All the different types of advanced power strip (APS) on the market operate on the same basic principle of shutting off power to devices you’re not using—but they vary according to the control strategy they offer.
Which APS is best for your customers depends on your context, and what types of control incorporate best into your customers’ daily routines?
Let’s take a look at the different types of APS.
Master-controlled power strip
The master-controlled APS is the classic configuration—including a ‘control’ outlet, ‘switched’ outlets and ‘always on’ outlets. When users turn off a primary device plugged into the control outlet (like a computer or TV), the power strip automatically disconnects the switched outlets where peripheral devices (like a printer or game console) are plugged in.
Master-controlled power strips aren’t the cheapest APSs available, but they’re not the most expensive either. Their only downside is that in some contexts it may not be obvious which appliance to select as the ‘control’ device.
Controlled Outlet power strip
When users turn off all the devices plugged into a controlled outlet power strip, the APS disconnects power to those outlets completely, eliminating all phantom loads.
Controlled outlet APSs are more expensive than many other types, and also have the slight downside that—if the power-switching threshold is not set correctly—turning off one high-powered appliance could turn off the entire power strip. However, for a controlled outlet power strip to be considered an APS, it must be possible to manually adjust or automatically set the power-switching threshold to accommodate multiple devices, so this problem can always be solved with a little tweaking.
Timer power strip
Timer power strips have a digital or dial timer that can be programmed to automatically energize (turn on) and de-energize (disconnect) outlets according to a pre-set daily or weekly schedule.
They’re generally mid-cost and save most energy in settings where devices are used on a regular schedule. These power strips are recommended to someone who intends to use the APS for regular, predicable usage patterns, like a 9-5 worker.
Remote switch power strip
This type of power strip can be completely turned off by using a remote switch. These are the least expensive APSs—but to save any energy, users have to remember to actively turn off the power strip when they finish using the plugged-in devices. Some might find this feature inconvenient while others might appreciate having full control of when their APS is energized.
Activity monitor power strip
An activity monitor power strip typically has a load-sensing control outlet, like a master-controlled APS, but also has a motion sensor or an infrared ‘eye’ that detects movement or remote control use in the room. If there are no signs of activity, the APS disconnects power to the control outlet. This turns off the primary device, and then the rest of the outlets are also de-energized, as in the master-controlled product.
These are more expensive than most APSs, and the motion sensors aren’t yet 100 percent effective, but they’re a great option in settings where equipment is used unpredictably throughout the day, or where equipment is routinely left on when not in use (like when a user falls asleep in front of the TV at night!).
Tier 1 versus Tier 2
If your customers have already begun looking into APS options, they may have come across the terms ‘Tier 1’ and ‘Tier 2.’ So, what’s the difference between a Tier 1 APS and a Tier 2 device?
In simple terms, Tier 1 APSs are the master-controlled type. They delegate one control outlet to a primary device and automatically switch off peripheral devices when the primary device is powered down. They also have ‘always on’ outlets for equipment like landline phones or fridges that need to stay on all the time.
Tier 1 APSs currently retail at between $30 and $60, and according to the General Services Administration (GSA) they’ve achieved plug load savings of 26 percent at office building workstations (even with advanced computer management already in place), and 48 percent savings in kitchens and printer rooms.
Tier 2 products, on the other hand, are the activity monitoring type. They save the energy that isn’t meant to be used. For example, a Tier 2 APS can turn off entertainment equipment like gaming consoles and speakers when it senses that everyone has left the room (or fallen asleep). Users can then re-energize the power strip by pressing a button on the sensor. (A remote control can’t be used to turn the console back on, because it has effectively been disconnected.)
Tier 2 APSs come with software that alerts the user before a shutdown, so they can override the shutdown if wanted.
Because of these additional features, Tier 2 technology probably provides greater energy savings than Tier 1 products. Right now, Tier 2s cost about $70–80, so they’re a little more pricey, but they’ve been shown to achieve average plug load energy savings of 65 percent at office workstations.
Choosing the right APS for your customer
To help your customer choose the best of these APS types for their situation, here’s a quick recap on each APS:
Pick a control style that suits their context:
1. Master-controlled APS: just turn your primary device off when ready, and the APS does the rest
2. Timer APS: great for regular, predicable usage patterns
3. Activity-monitoring APS: perfect for areas where devices are used intermittently and unpredictably
4. Remote switch: when users want to de-energize whole strips at once
5. Controlled Outlet APS: de-energizes the whole strip to eliminate all phantom loads once the user has switched off the separate devices plugged in
Discover AM Conservation Group’s wide variety of APSs that you can start offering to your customers or members today!