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Oct 9, 2010
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Idle Power Usage

I recently re-installed a whole home energy monitor, and have become obsessed with getting idle usage as low as possible (without giving up creature comforts like Google Minis, and Hue lights). Anyone else as insane as me? My general power usage at this home isn't too bad, but this idle draw thing just feels so much like pissing money away, and getting nothing back.

I found out my idle usage was 250w; this seemed really high, so I started on a fact finding mission (i'd already tested a lot of stuff with my Kill-A-Watt, but apparently nowhere near enough). Heavy hitters being Internet stuff (smart home hubs, modem, router, wifi, etc), and PC (running Plex, FTP, WWW, etc). Since starting this project, I've gotten down to about 175w easily; pretty substantial savings were gained from doing virtually nothing (replacing wall-warts with better ones, removing useless crap from the home (Z-wave repeaters, unused wall-warts), messing with the computer power profile, etc). A huge accidental fix was buying a "kitchen PC" that draws like 3w idle, and amazingly has virtualization, so my home PC doesn't "need" to run all the time anymore (70w saved, this PC is my work PC, and serves up FTP/WWW saving me more in hosting that it costs in electricity).

Idle is now tantalizingly close to 100w (about 112w generally), which will have saved me about $150/year. In 2 years, will break even for what I've put in, and I've lost no creature comforts (other than having to press "power" on the main PC when we want to watch Plex). My GF thinks I'm insane, but she loves the SmartHome toys, so she abides.
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I've been wondering about idle draw. No monitor but looks like 0.17-0.19KWh. No smart devices but have:

whole-house surge protector
3 cordless phones with transformers
1 phone-clock radio-alarm.
1 battery charger (Ryobi) is constantly plugged in as it is hard to get to the socket
2 cordless vacuums
cell phone charger
weather center

Oven
Dishwasher
fridge (only)
freezer
1 bath fan timer switch that draw power
4-way light switch
garage opener

Laser printer on standby (could save on this)
FO modems
WAN-to-coaxial adapters
1 or 2 Coaxial-WAN/Wi-fi router
1 PVR
1 wi-fi router acting as hub (use it for the PVR, HTPC, BD player, AVR)

Try to turn off power/disconnect when not in use
TV, AVR + 2 subwoofers
BD player is switched off (rocker switch easy as the LED is irritatingly bright)
adapters for 2 laptops

Seasonal:
~4 motion-sensor lights turned off in summer
Heat pump with electric air cleaner turned off when outside of heating season (very rarely use it for cooling, might use the fan a very few times a month)
Powered timer switch hooked to towel bar heater (turned off in summer)

I can put some devices on mechanical timers (if they can handle the load) that I have sitting around but wonder about the cost effectiveness of operating the mechanism vs allowing the devices to stay on idle.

How does one find a more-efficient wall wart? The lighter ones rather than the heavy transformers?
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[OP]
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My "wall wart" reduction has largely been consolidation. I have an Internet / A/V cabinet full of random crap. All of my Chromecast Audios were moved to an Aukey USB hub, and I saved 1.5w there (6 Chromecast Audios, and 1 VOIP device). My "old" wallwarts were very old ... generally, 5+ years. I just plugged in the existing wall-wart, got the power draw, plugged in another I harvested from a newer device, and tested again. Lower power draw wins.

I also combined devices (so instead of 3 wall-warts providing 0.25A .. I combined them to be one wall wart providing power to all three; efficiencies happened.

I can guess the technology that exists in newer wall-warts, but that doesn't really help. Fact is, newer stuff/higher quality stuff seems to have better performance than older stuff.
Last edited by ChubChub on Oct 10th, 2019 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Which Whole house monitor did you get?
[OP]
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tebore wrote: Which Whole house monitor did you get?
It's the Aeotec Home Energy Monitor v1 : https://aeotec.com/z-wave-home-energy-measure/ (this is a link to the v2, I believe they're basically identical).

I got mine a few years ago when they were clearing out the old ones (I paid like $15 for it).
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My always on phantom load hovers around 200w +/- 20w. It auto calculates each 24 hours.

These are some of the devices that never fully power off.
1 Cable box, 1 internet modem, 1 smart TV, 3 google homes, 2 google home minis, 1 mini pc, 1 raspberry pi(3w), 1 mini Unix server (3w), 1 router, 2 wireless access points(8w), 1 network switch, 1 phone handset

Image
[OP]
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Feels good there are others that at least care about this; makes me feel a slight-bit less insane.

I got my house to 110w idle now, but I'm going to try to get to 100w idle, but I am not sure if it's possible without giving up on some stuff. Probably attainable if I am not home, as I can have the smart-home system turn off stuff like whole home amplifiers when me and the GF are not home.
bubuski wrote: ... 2 wireless access points(8w) ...
This was a funny one for me; I turned off the LED on my Unifi AP and it saved 0.5w :). Turned down the power as well, and gained another 0.5w. This is an example of the insane part of my project.
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How much does a mechanical timer consume in comparison to a powered device, especially during a time when one doesn't need it on?
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thriftshopper wrote: How much does a mechanical timer consume in comparison to a powered device, especially during a time when one doesn't need it on?
I have a reasonably new "Intermatic" mechanical timer (maybe 10-15 years old), and it draws 2.3w continuously, but 2.4w as it gets close to clicking over the timer. I can easily hear it humming along, so it's probably a relatively inefficient device.
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ChubChub wrote: I have a reasonably new "Intermatic" mechanical timer (maybe 10-15 years old), and it draws 2.3w continuously, but 2.4w as it gets close to clicking over the timer. I can easily hear it humming along, so it's probably a relatively inefficient device.
How does that compare to average idle consumption of magnetic and non-magnetic transformers?
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thriftshopper wrote: How does that compare to average idle consumption of magnetic and non-magnetic transformers?
How does it compare? It doesn't compare directly: a mechanical timer clicks over a relay, and is thus effectively an automatic light-switch. A better comparison for a mechanical timer would be a smart plug. My Wemo wifi plug draws about 1.6w idle, and my Iris zwave/zigbee plugs draw 0.3w idle. FWIW, many newer power bricks effectively draw 0w when they're under no load. Note: I am almost always testing with a Kill-A-Watt, so anything below 0.1w is considered 0w.

To answer your question about magnetic vs solid state transformers: Their efficiency will vary based on power consumption, but IN GENERAL a magnetic transformer is in the 80% area, and the electronic ones are over 90%. You CAN see the efficiency of your power source, theoretically, by looking at the brick's label and looking for "Efficiency" and/or some roman numerals in a circle; you can find the standards the device had to meet to get that rating, but it COULD be that the brick meets the higher standard, but the standard simply hadn't been established yet.

All of my bricks are VI (or unlabelled), and is as far as the standards have gotten so far. By ensuring you have all bricks as efficiency VI, you're at least ensuring you have a reasonably modern brick.

You can Google power brick efficiency standards, but here is information about V and VI: https://www.megaelectronics.com/the-dif ... -vi-and-v/
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Today I decided to turn off the LEDs on my two Unifi AP. Figured I can save the 1w since I've never have to use the status lights.

Has anyone calculated power consumption of smart switches? I have about a dozen TP link wifi ones around the house
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bubuski wrote: Today I decided to turn off the LEDs on my two Unifi AP. Figured I can save the 1w since I've never have to use the status lights.

Has anyone calculated power consumption of smart switches? I have about a dozen TP link wifi ones around the house
TP-Link HS110 V2 1,2 W 1,8 W
TP-Link HS110 V3 1,0 W 1,8 W

Source (scroll down to the last comment)
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Interesting discussion here. I have whole-house energy monitoring as well -- in my case, I "rolled my own" (built myself) rather than a commercial unit. I am measuring current consumption rather than real power per se, as I am not reading voltage or phase info (and doubt that other cheap systems do either).

In my case, the equivalent of about 2 A "idle" current draw (200-250 W of apparent power) seems normal -- this is the modem and router, fridge, freezer, furnace on standby, etc. No smart switches in my case.

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