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The path to zero standby power

Posted: 02 Sep 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:standby power  power management  power minimisation 

An important trend in power management, often overlooked, is standby power minimisation in consumer products, appliances, portable electronics and computer systems. It may be thought that the standby power consumption of electronic equipment is trivial compared with active power consumption. However, this is far from the truth. Several studies have shown the total energy consumed by electronic equipment and their power adapters while in standby or under no-load is very significant.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the total amount of electricity that flows through internal power supplies and external power adapters is nearly 470 billion kWh per year. In the typical household, electricity consumption derives from a large number of appliances, each with its own power supply (e.g. TVs, computers, video players, cell phones etc.). Most appliances are left permanently plugged into the mains and spend a large proportion of the day on standby or, in the case of cell phone chargers, left plugged into the mains while the phone is elsewhere.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab estimates that the waste in electricity resulting from standby and no-load consumption costs U.S. households over $5 billion each year; 5 per cent to 15 per cent of household electricity consumption worldwide is wasted in standby mode (International Energy Agency).

There are clearly enormous benefits to be gained by reducing this waste to as close to zero as possible. Regulatory authorities around the world have not been idle in this respect, and standards have been and continue to be progressively tightened. As an example, for TV receivers many programs including Energy Star and EU Eco-Label now mandate a maximum standby consumption of 1W.

View the PDF document for more information.

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