Permanently plugged in mobile chargers - discussion


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We had several conversations at the VIP day abot the load created by plugged in mobile chargers with no mobiles connected, @Transparent if I remember was very vocal on this issue.

Anyway, I plugged my enegy monitor into a 13A socket and plugged in an Apple iPhone charger; I left it for ten days. Result 0.00kWh usage PF=1, I have to say I was surprised

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Userlevel 7
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Well 10/10 for bothering to set up the experiment, @PeterR1947. 🙂

However, my point wasn't specifically about chargers for mobile phones, but the increasing usage of portable power supply units.

It's obviously far easier to market a low-power product if it doesn't have a 240v AC input to it. The manufacturer can buy in an off-the-shelf switch-mode power-supply (SMPS) with the appropriate ratings and safety certification.



Looking around the room I'm in at the moment I can see these "electronic transformers" connected to my
  • WiFi router
  • LCD monitor
  • rechargeable torch
  • mini audio centre
  • cordless (DECT) landline phone
These units are cheap because they're produced in the millions by Far-East manufacturers in a competitive market. It doesn't matter to them whether the product is 95% efficient or just 85%. Moreover, many of them continue to stay warm when the device they are intended to power is switched off... thus indicating a residual energy loss merely by remaining plugged in to the mains power socket.

Because I have in-house off-grid battery banks, I've decided to wire my home with a 24v DC "bus".

In most cases, this is hard-wired into a local distribution board on each floor, from which I run LED lighting.

However, recently I've also been installing DC output sockets alongside other mains-connected electrical outlets.



This arrangement will enable me to replace mains-driven electronic transformers with high-efficiency DC-DC Converters to provide the required voltage for whatever device I wish to plug in.



Although my own system is using "free" power derived from renewable energy sources, the same strategy could be used once we have Time-Of-Use Tariffs available.

Instead of using cheap electricity at off-peak times to charge up a Home Battery which later converts this back to 240v AC, it would be more efficient to run devices directly from a DC output from the battery.

I couldn't then earn income from feeding power back to the Grid, but such a battery would be significantly cheaper because it can omit the expensive inverter output stage, and its associated safety lock-outs.
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As am I @PeterR1947, I took many an ear bashing growing up about leaving things on "Blackpool Illuminations" was my Mum's firm favorite if we dared to leave the light on when leaving a room.

I've had a quick browse and found this article, I guess it's all the small things that add up. I must admit the Microwave was a surprise to me.

Has anyone else ever done tests on appliances?

Great topic by the way! 😊
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Very interesting @transparent, I must admit I had thought at one time about adding a DC circuit to power LED lighting but since having the Leaf, my surplus generation either charges the Leaf or heats hot water so there is very little export.

However, you have started me off, I'm going to experiment with some of my plugged in items and I'll add the results as I get them; I suspect some of them may then become non-plugged in items!

My "left plugged in items have now got me slightly concerned:
Home Office: Virgin modem, ASUS Modem, SAM Knows box, 8-Port switch, NAS Drive, Printer (turns off at night, back on in morning by schedule), DECT phone

Rest of House: 4 x DECT phones and answering machine, Clock Radio x 2, Virgin V6 box, 5-Port switch by TV, DVD Player, TV, myenergi hub (controls the zappi charger), zappi charger, Microwave, Oven, several time switches controlling security lights and radiator fans.

Several of the above are only plugged in to save having to reset a clock every time and others in case there's a software update which happens once in a blue moon!

@Amy_OVO My Dad's favourite saying on coming home was "House is lit up like a Christmas Tree"
Userlevel 7
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I'll be interested to hear of your results @PeterR1947

I think we should also take note of the social/ethical aspect of this subject, and not just the raw power consumption figures.

In the past three months there has been a really significant change in public opinion, sparked by the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, Hugh Fernley Wittingstall and Extinction Rebellion.

People are looking for ways in which they can take decisive action to protect Planet Earth and make energy-use more equitable.

Rejecting electronic transformers wasting quiescent power is the sort of project which may fire their imagination, whether or not their individual cost savings appear significant.

Moreover, such a move does not require the "authorities" to first change legislation or regulations. It's action which could be taken immediately.

OVO also have a part to play here. There needs to be a trial for a new Time-of-use-Tariff announced asap. That will enable us (the customer base) to start evaluating how we might change our energy-usage, and whether there is sufficient granularity in the flexible tariff structure.

It would be wrong to simply concoct such a tariff in the boardroom with the advice of marketing gurus. Until a trial is in place, you simply can't predict how customers will respond... and that in turn affects the price-points.
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Hello All

For many new devices like modern TV's the power usage is much lower than it used to be . The EU brought in new rules about this. As an example TV's have to consume less than 1w in standby now:-

See this

So assuming a maximum of 1w and left in standby for 1 year

1w x 8760 hours = 8.76kWh. Assuming 17p per kWh = approx £1.50 per year.

So yes, you will save some money but it will not be detectable in your overall energy usage.

You would probably save much more changing 1 old fashioned light bulb to its LED equivalent.
Userlevel 7
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Thanks @Phil_H. I've had a quick look at the documents on the page you linked to.

These EU Regulations appear to target the actual end-user devices themselves and not the external power supply which feeds them.

And also, any device fed from an electronic transformer running at less than 6v 550mA (ie including USB power) is totally exempted.
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Hi @Transparent

I hope you dont mind me posting another link, I dont know if you have seen this before but there is something more to read here

Let me know what you think.
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Well once again, that's an interesting article @Phil_H.

But I still think the analysis is being done from a very one-sided view: "How much money could I save if...?"

What if I considered the same figures in kWh but from the perspective of a family living in a rural area of Burundi, or Oyo State, or Balochistan or a thousand other remote regions of the Developing World where there will never be mains electricity?

How would they feel about our profligate attitude to energy?

"So... you Westerners are prepared to fritter away so much power in your household transformer-blocks that it would be enough for us to have an LED light in our hut and a small radio! And all you assess it by is the pennies it costs you!

"How equitable is that? How can our children advance educationally if their ability to do homework is limited by the sun each day?

"The trouble with you rich people is that your electricity is too cheap!"


Can you feel the tension in that message?

Through our culture we expect to enjoy the benefits of electricity without regard to the consequences of that assumption.

And yet - that's why Greta Thunberg has proven to be so inspiring. Like the tale of old, she stood up and dared to comment on the King's New Clothes. And only in that moment did others begin to realise that she was right!


Energy wasted in electronic transformers is not a monochromatic issue.

Why not view it from a different perspective... that of my community -

How much energy is no longer wasted if my town or city became aware of this?

How can I help my neighbours to decide if a mains power transformer-plug is inefficient?
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First results from testing as follows:
Panasonic Microwave, negligable power on standby, after 15hrs hadn't even used 0.01kWh

Virgin V6 box draws 0.08A, i.e. 20W whether on or off so that's joining the devices that get switched off at night.

Sony TV, supposed to be 0.5W on standby but actually using 15W I think due to the power mode, it says it uses more if you have software or EPG updates set - I'm still trying to find out how to turn these off, Sony online help isn't brilliant.

More to follow soon
Userlevel 7
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Useful information @PeterR1947.

What you say about the Virgin box and the TV emphasises the point I'm making. If you, as an engineer, find that these two devices take more power than you anticipated, then it suggest that the majority of the population will even less aware of the situation.

My colleagues working on the OpenLV substation project in this area have been surveying householders on one estate locally. As you might expect, their appreciation of energy matters is generally low. There is a clear need for greater education, but that isn't helped by a low level of trust in Energy Suppliers.
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A bit of irony here I think!

My Current Cost EnviR electricity monitor screens (I have two in the house) use 1.086 Watts per hour or 26 Watts per day!

Although the transmitters were battery driven, I have connected them up to a Maplin psu, guess I'll measure that one next.

Peter
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Thanks for sharing that article @Amy_OVO! We are pretty good it not leaving too many things on standby, but are definitely guilty of leaving some of these on!!



We always switch off the TV and digital box fully every night before bed and when we go out. Also we never leave the microwave on at all, only when we use it. Guilty however, of leaving the modem on all the time....! And the multi-room speaker......eek! Will definitely be trying to get better at turning these off the save more energy!!

Some great conversation here, thanks to @PeterR1947 for kicking it off!

Darran
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Also, this was a topic started in the Super user lounge, but I really think this would be interesting to the wider population! Any objections to me moving this into a public area?

I think drawing attention to the little things we can all do to make a difference to our energy use, is so relevant and helpful to others! Let me know, if I don't hear anything by this afternoon, I'll assume we are happy and move it.

Thanks!

Darran
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Yes, I think it should be opened up.

And we should add links from other relevant discussion Topics which the Moderators have started recently, such as this one about Climate Change and this Scoop from @Amy_OVO .

Could @Darran_OVO say how he obtained his readings?

Did you get your kids to do it using your IHD?

If we're going to open up this Topic, we ought to offering some guidance of how to check mains-connected devices, for Forum Members who don't have all the engineering skills and equipment available to the likes of @PeterR1947 and myself!
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My readings? @Transparent ?? Not sure what you mean?

And yes for general public, if there are easy ways to check this type of thing then please share, will be useful to many I'm sure.

Darran
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Ah... mea culpa.

I thought the graphic you attached was from readings you'd taken in your own home. Now I realise it was snipped from the article that @Amy_OVO referred us to.

If we're going to motivate the wider public to be involved, then we should be suggesting methods that a 10-year-old could implement. That way we'll be including those who will most have to cope with Climate Change. (I'm sure Greta Thunberg would approve!).

A Chameleon IHD can provide a readout in watts. So you can take it around the house and switch devices on/off standby to see how much power they take.

Obviously you have to ensure that nothing else switches on or off between you taking the two readings. My gas boiler switching on consumes 90w for the pump and control-valve, for example.

@Darran_OVO... I don't know how old your children are, but you might like to see what they understand of this and let us know here! (Would that count as "taking your work home"?)
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Haha, yes I try not to do that at all costs, have too many other things to think about!!

But yes agree, it's something we should be encouraging more people to do and if we can all do our bit to reduce energy use, it will have a bigger impact on the whole world in regards to climate change.

Darran
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Is there a way to get similar advice/discussion appearing over on the Boost Forum @Ed_OVO?

I suspect that those on PAYG meters are more likely than us here to benefit from having assistance to know when devices on standby are still consuming lots of power.
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@Transparent - rest assured we've got plenty of resources like this on the Boost forum 🤓
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Latest test, my new BEKO "Alcohol" Fridge located in the garage is an A+, used 4.38kWh in 571 hours; that works our at 184W per day, well pleased with that compared to my 30+yr old "Alcohol" Fridge which used an average of just under 700W per day
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A bit of irony here I think!

My Current Cost EnviR electricity monitor screens (I have two in the house) use 1.086 Watts per hour or 26 Watts per day!

Although the transmitters were battery driven, I have connected them up to a Maplin psu, guess I'll measure that one next.

Peter


Fortunately, the Maplin psu powering both transmitters takes much less than I thought it would at 7.25W per day so happy with that

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