Do surge protectors save energy?

Most modern electronic gadgets are not meant to be switched off. Rather, they are placed in a state of suspended animation called standby. Gadgets in standby perform some basic background functions until their user recalls them for full functionality. The benefit to the user is an instant response from the unit against having to wait for it to resuscitate.

However, all this comes at a price. Units in standby mode need power, however small, to keep them ticking. For those powered from a battery, need to replace or re-charge their batteries more often. Those drawing power from the utilities’ outlet, consume a tiny amount of power in the standby mode, and if the design of the gadget is not proper, this may amount to energy up to one-tenth of their normal consumption when fully operating. Multiply this with the number of such gadgets all over the house or office, and you will notice the standby consumption forms a substantial chunk of the yearly electricity bill.

People use surge protectors to save their expensive electronic gadgets from going bust with high-voltage surges appearing on the power outlets in homes and offices. These are long strips of connectors allowing plug-in of multiple gadgets. Equipment connected to these strips are saved from the marauding surges because the strip has a device called an MOV inside it followed up with a fuse. The MOV shunts the high-voltage surges and prevents them from reaching the plugged-in equipment.

Apart from the connectors, MOV and fuse, the surge protector strip also has a master switch with which all the gadgets connected to the strip can be switched on or off. Irrespective of the individual gadgets being in full operation or in standby, flipping the master switch to the off position cuts off power to all equipment connected to that strip. This essentially means none of the equipment can draw any more power, not even for their standby operation.

Switching off all equipment from the wall outlet with their individual switches can be a daunting task, especially if there are a number of gadgets connected and the wall outlet switches are difficult to access. After a few days of diligence, people usually give the switching off routine a miss and the equipment remain in a standby mode, consuming their share of energy.

Since surge protectors have a master switch, it is simpler to switch off a number of gadgets at a time, and thereby, cut down on the consumption of standby power. For example, you may have a TV, a few computers, a printer and a few battery chargers hooked up to one surge protector strip. When leaving at the end of the day, switching off individually would be troublesome. However, flipping the master switch on the surge protector strip may not be a big deal.

Therefore, the proactive user is actually saving the energy by remembering to flip the switch on the surge protector strip. If the user forgets to flip the switch, the surge protector strip does not save any energy.