Smart Power… bars

Smart Power… bars

When you’re looking to expand the number of sockets in an area, a power bar can be the first thing that comes to mind. A power bar, or power strip, can expand the number of devices you can have plugged in, extend your range to the outlet, or provide surge suppression, a very important feature when connecting computers or monitors. 


Did you know that smart power bars can actually save you money? When electronics are plugged in, they are using energy even when asleep and when you think they are off. This effect is called standby power (link to phantom power blog) or phantom power, and can add up to 5-10% of your energy bill according to National Resources Canada.  


How are Smart Power bars different?

  • Energy monitoring Cuts power to outlets when it detects that devices have entered sleep modes
  • Dedicated plugs Maintains typically 1 or 2 plugs for 'always on' settings
  • Grouped outlets Sets a control outlet and controlled outlets. Good for entertainment units
  • Energy control features  Provides options to schedule or maintain power to the power bar

The life expectancy of a typical power bar is very good, often lasting 5 or 10+ years, but the technology in them has greatly improved over the same amount of time. When was the last time you replaced the ones in your house? Odds are, if you fall into the category of the 10+ years there are some much desired upgrades available to you. 

There are several different options for smart power bars out there. Checkout the list below before buying one to make a more informed decision:

Figure out your power needs:

  • Outlet control

Smart power bars use grouped outlets to control devices that are on at the same time. For example, a TV in the control outlet, with an audio receiver and game console on the controlled outlets. When the power bar detects the TV is turned on, the controlled outlets are enabled for use automatically. 

  • Surge protection

Protect your sensitive electronics from unexpected energy surges, overvoltage spikes, and overcurrent events. Valuable when used for entertainment stations including game consoles, computers, laptops and TVs.

  • Number/style of outlets

Think about what is being plugged in, is there a large adapter or oddly shaped plug that needs more room than usual? Wider spaces between outlets may be ideal. Have a lot of devices to plug in? Make sure you’ve got power available for them with a large number of outlets.

  • Connection ports

Running USB cables or ethernet? Look into options that provide direct connections into your power bar. Eliminate an adapter or 2 by plugging a USB cable directly into a 5V outlet. 

  • Power control

Power scheduling and remote-control options are available on certain models. These features help you to take energy efficiency to the next level, by determining times for the power bar to be on or allow you to turn it on and off from the comfort of your couch.

  • Wireless connection

If smart home installations are what you are after then there are options to keep in mind such as Google and Amazon for voice control. Power bars with these features work with voice control and typically have a Wi-Fi connection and don’t require an additional access hub.

 Of course CircuitIQ can help you understand what circuits are running what things in your home or building. Before you think about installing a power monitoring solution, have your building mapped to save time and know your power. 

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