Green is in these days, and so is saving money. The EcoStrip 2.0 looks like a common power strip with built-in surge protection but it actually works to save you money while reducing your carbon footprint. The EcoStrip 2.0 comes with a USB connector that you plug into your PC to activate its magic ability. Once connected it knows when you shut down your PC [or Mac], then it cuts all power to the remaining ports on the power strip. Everything else you plug into the EcoStrip stops drawing power the moment your computer is off.
According to the International Energy Agency , the U.S. wastes billions of dollars each year on energy lost to standby power (also known as "Vampire Power") . This means that all those devices we leave plugged in when we’re not using them are actually drawing a lot more power than we think. Many of these devices, such as printers, monitors, speakers and cell-phone chargers, are kept around the computer desk. Together these devices can add 7%-12% to your electric bill, wasting power and costing you an extra $20-$150 per year. The EcoStrip 2.0 aims to reduce that waste by cutting power to all those devices, all you have to do is remember to shut down your PC. Did you know that leaving your PC on draws an average of 50-300 Watts, about as much as a common refrigerator?
The bottom line is we need to change our habits a little bit and we can start saving money [and perhaps a baby arctic seal]. Turning off and/or unplugging devices when we are not using them is a good place to start. To help with the minor things [that are easily forgotten] like shutting off your speakers, cable box or unplugging your cell phone charger, you can use an EcoStrip 2.0.
Features & Specifications The UL approved EcoStrip comes with six feet of power and USB cables, six 120 VAC power outlets, a standard 15 Amp resettable breaker, can handle a 13,500 Amp current spike and dissipate 2350 joules of energy. There is virtually no setup required, just plug it into a USB port. When testing the EcoStrip I discovered that it can basically be used with most computers (PC, Mac, Laptops, Netbooks) but for some reason it does not work with certain computers. Some computer motherboards leave USB ports powered on even when the system is off. It is hit or miss as far as I can tell. It works well with my laptop and one of the desktops I tested but does not work with another [relatively standard] desktop PC. I had to reach around to the back of the PC to turn off the master switch on the PC’s power supply. In my opinion they should have designed it to work with any device that has a USB port, for example video game consoles and cable/satellite boxes that have a free USB port. It is worth mentioning that the “master” port [that your PC plugs into] stays on, allowing for features such as Wake-On-LAN to work.
The price is listed at $45 on the manufacturer's site but I've seen it for less elsewhere online. At that price you can pick up brand-name surge protectors with more outlets, longer-than-standard power cable and other features, but then again this one is designed to do two specific things, save power and pay for itself. Still, if EcoStrip, Inc. is listening, at that price here is what I feel needs improvement: It currently is not compatible with all PCs, namely those that continue to feed power to USB ports after shut down.
Needs a more generous cable length [than six feet].
Needs at least one more outlet, perhaps for the one additional device that needs to stay on.
Could use a low profile plug. It would make it easier to plug it behind a desk that is close to a wall.
Could use optional software for monitoring usage of each connected device.
Could use a built-in USB hub. It would make up for the port it takes up and add value.
Since it does take up a USB port I wish it would have a built-in two to four port USB hub. I think this would be a good product to double as a powered USB hub that would cut power to USB devices as well [once the PC is off]. It is a good candidate for educating the user about power usage. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could install optional software that would tell us how much power each connected device is drawing when it’s on? Sure these features would cost more to include so why not have a basic model and a higher-priced model? I’d pay an extra $15-$20 for that.
If someone told you that you can save around $100 per year, per computer, wouldn’t you spend around $40 on that? I would. I’m not saying that I would replace every power strip in my house with an EcoStrip but I would at least use it at my PC desk (the one that it works with). For the same price I feel they could offer a longer power cable and perhaps a pass-through port for the USB, but hey, it’s still worth it.