Take Charge of your Power Usage

Wall-mount charger specifications

A couple of weeks ago (in fact, just a few days before Christmas), I got an email from a company called Take Charge, who produce a couple of handy energy saving devices related to power consumption. They were offering me a couple of devices in exchange for a review.

Now, as somebody who is concerned about the environment and a user of perhaps more power than I would really prefer to be, this was a very appealing offer. The promise of the devices was to help control "vampire" power usage -- that nasty, sucking sound as power is wasted away by devices that you aren't even using.

However conscientious you may try to be about turning off devices and unplugging adapters when you're finished using them, any thing that you need to remember is going to occasionally be missed. It would be rather nice to have a more sensitive power source, don't you think?

I've been using the two devices that Take Charge sent me for about two weeks now -- which seems like a fair amount of time to determine that yes, they do work as advertised.

The specific devices are the Smartstrip Surge Protector and the Wallmount Timed Charger Docking Bay. Each device serves a specific service which I've found handy.

The Smartstrip Surge Protector's fancy feature is to use one "control" socket to dictate whether or not an additional five sockets are receiving power. As a heavy computer user, I've got my laptop dock plugged into the control socket and my extra two monitors, speakers, and adjustable desk plugged into the controlled outlets. When my laptop is powered down nothing else receives power - the speakers are silent, the desk is immobile, the monitors are dark. At the press of a button, everything charges back to life. It's very convenient -- reminiscent of using a switched powerstrip, but without the need to crawl underneath my desk...

The Timed Charger Docking Bay is a different type of device - targeted particularly towards items you need to charge, such as an iPad or tablet computer or a cellphone. My normal habit is to charge these things before I go to bed. This is certainly ideal from convenience, since I rarely use my phone while sleeping. However, it does mean that - at a minimum - my chargeable devices will be plugged in overnight. None of these devices require a full night's charging to be fully charged, so this is definitely wasting some energy.

The Timed Charger is a very simple concept: you press a button, and it starts a timer, turning the outlets on for three hours. In three hours, my cellphone is fully charged, and my iPad regains about 70% of a charge -- I may need to do some extra charging if I've totally drained the battery...but usually this is plenty. After three hours, the outlets turn off. Energy waste ended.

On the whole, these are simple devices which can have a long-term benefit to your energy usage. They're unlikely to save you a massive amount of energy immediately -- but they will definitely make sure that you're actually taking some of the simplest steps towards saving energy in the home.

Definitely a nice Christmas present.

Post-script: Obviously, I received something for this review. Be assured that while I probably would not have thought to write this review without receiving the devices for free, this in no way influenced my perception of the devices.

Updated by Joe Dolson on 08 January, 2012

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