Power Strip & Timer Recommendations

pvoffgridpvoffgrid Solar Expert Posts: 48 ✭✭
Hi,
Are there any specific power strips to consider for turning off phantom loads? After doing a review of my home power use I can see a need for more than one power strip. This actually could almost require one power strip per outlet since outlets are placed apart from each other. Our wall oven in the kitchen is plugged into one outlet while the coffee pot is plugged into another and the microwave is plugged into a 3rd and they cannot be moved closer to each other. The TV is plugged into a different outlet than the PC, and so on, just like in most houses. So, 1 power strip might be a small one and another might be a larger one.

Perhaps I just need to get a switched outlet but if an outlet has two devices plugged in it that eliminates the ability to use a switched outlet, doesn't it, since I believe the switch takes the place of one outlet?

And, timers...what are good timers to use? As an example, I would like to consider putting my refrigerator and freezer on a timer so they do not run during the evening but only from say 7 am - 7 pm at night. I could also see putting the radiant floor / domestic H2O combo boiler on a timer. I can also see putting our 10 gall aquarium on a timer once I change to an undergravel filter system as the one we have now loses it's prime whenever I shut it off.

So, what are the recommendations on power strips and timers? And, what devices have you all put on these two items?

Thanks.

48v Off-Grid

Modules: 5.395 kW:

(16) Kyocera KC130TM

(12) Kyocera KD-210GX-LPU

(3) Kyocera KU265-6MCA 

Batteries:

(24) Trojan Solar SPRE 02 1255 

Racks:

(2) Zomework trackers (KC130TM modules, 8 per tracker, landscape position) - facing due south

(1) Unirac ground mounted fixed rack (all KD210 modules, landscape position) - facing slightly southwest

(1) Unirac roof mounted fixed rack (all KU265 modules, landscape postion) - facing due south

Inverters:

(2) Trace SW5548

Charge Controllers:

(1) Outback MX60 - for (16) KC130 modules 

(1) Flexmax60 - for (12) KD210 modules

(1) Flexmax60 - for (3) KU265 modules

Generator:

(1) Kohler 14RESA propane

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,006 admin
    Re: Power Strip & Timer Recommendations

    Unfortinatualy, it is not that simple.

    Many devices you can save power by turning them off with a power strip switch when not in use... But with new Energy Star appliances, many of the newer appliances don't really use much power when in "standby" / "off" anyway. Using a Kill-a-Watt type meter is always a great start here. It gives a good sense of proportion.

    Don't tick off the spouse/family to switch off a cell phone charger which may use 1 watt when not charging, but have an old stereo that uses 20-40 watts when "off".

    Look at your entire power bill... The average is around 1,000 kWH per month. Look at the "average load":

    1,000,000 Watt*Hours per month * 1/24 hours per day * 1/30 days per month = 1,389 Watt load * 24 hour per day

    When compared to one summer month when I got down to ~175 kWH per month (trying real hard to conserve in my suburban home):

    175,000 WH per month * 1/24 * 1/30 = 152 Watts * 24*7

    All of a sudden, that old stereo that used 20 watts on standby, that washer/drier that used 9 watts when "off", leaving lights on in the house--That was 1/3rd of my bill.

    Next, looking at what to reduce power usage/time shift... My summer electric rate is around $0.27 per kWH noon to 6pm summer week days and ~$0.09 per kWH off peak. I put a "lamp timer" on my freezer to switch it off between noon and 6 pm. Ended up just getting iced up faster and freezer burning the food more because of the thermal cycling (this was non-frost free fridge). It was better to just leave the freezer plugged in and the food preserved better.

    Similar issue with "what is the ideal freezer temperature" -- Which was answered Zero degrees F in this thread (from a food point of view):

    Question - Best Freezer Temperature


    Another issue with powering down the modern refrigerator and/or freezers is that "frost free" units have a ~500 watt heater in them to quickly defrost the evaporator (cooling) coils. Most of the units today appear to be electronic timers that reset to "defrost" when you turn the power back on--So, if you cycle power more than once or twice per day, you will be excessively defrosting them. Plus the complaints from others in the home about how dark it is inside when the power is turned off just when people are going into the fridge/freezers most often (afternoons/evening).

    So--Look at overall power usage vs the hassles of turning stuff on and off. Use the Kill-a-Watt meter to figure out your loads that are running up the electric bills, use LED/CFL lighting--especially in lights that are used a lot or left on all the time. Replace older appliances that are less efficient when you can justify it (many times, the newer appliances will use less power when on and off).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,382 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Power Strip & Timer Recommendations

    If I was total off grid I would be concerned with Phantoms. But being grid tie and having excess solar for 10 months out of the year I don't even bother. There are bigger fish to fry, like using a TOU plan and load shifting to off peak. Adding insulation to reduce AC/Heating run times, changing out lighting to CFL or LED, using computers/displays that have low standby wattage. You mentioned Aquarium, that has to be a largish load with it being on 24/7, I would look to find alternatives on that device to reduce the load, perhaps your break prime issue can be solved with a inline check valve.

    Get a really good survey of your consumption and hit the big consumers first.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Power Strip & Timer Recommendations

    Avoid using power strips or timers for high Wattage devices (coffee maker, for example). Many of those strips/timers have pretty small wiring/conductors/contacts. Even though they may be rated for 15 Amps the internal components can be flimsy and won't stand up to continued high current use.

    "Unplug when not in use" is the best for big things, if they need to be unplugged. That's what I do with the microwave (the clock time has to be set to something every time it is used, but that's not even daily so it doesn't matter).

    All of the "office" equipment is on one strip, but it doesn't draw 200 Watts. Likewise the satellite & phone system is on another strip (flip the switch and the whole set-up powers up/down nicely) and uses <50 Watts. The cordless phone has to be kept plugged in all the time as the battery dies easily if it doesn't get an overnight charge (this is another reason I don't use "standby" on the inverter).

    I haven't got anything on a timer. Mostly it's a matter of how often you use something and what affect having it "really off" would be.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: Power Strip & Timer Recommendations

    I've read everywhere that idle items consume a lot of power.

    I started measuring mine, and I found out that my things (all relatively new, the oldest - cofeemaker - from 90-s) do not really consume anything.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Power Strip & Timer Recommendations
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    I've read everywhere that idle items consume a lot of power.

    I started measuring mine, and I found out that my things (all relatively new, the oldest - cofeemaker - from 90-s) do not really consume anything.

    It all depends on what item.
    The coffee maker probably has a clock in it that pulls less than a Watt.
    A PVR on the other hand ...

    In fact we've tested a few such stand-by loads and the results are in this section somewhere. The mA's can add up.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Power Strip & Timer Recommendations

    One of the relevant threads about satellite equipment and power use:
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?17872-Satellite-receiver-power-usage
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: Power Strip & Timer Recommendations
    The coffee maker probably has a clock in it that pulls less than a Watt.
    A PVR on the other hand ...

    Yes, the cofeemaker's clock pulls less than a watt. So did everything else.

    I don't have PVR.

    GFCI outlets were way below a watt, so I decided to leave them on. Tried to install arc fault protection breaker, but pulled it off because of 2W consumption.
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