Published on January 6th, 2012 | by Ravinder Casley Gera1
Banish Vampire Drain with These Mushroom-Shaped Chargers
January 6th, 2012 by Ravinder Casley Gera
Tread carefully. You may not realise it, but your house is full of vampires.
Vampire appliances, that is. That’s any appliance that sucks up power from your socket whenever it’s plugged in, even if it’s not in use. Common culprits include laptop power supplies, battery chargers and, in particular, chargers for gadgets and mobile phones.
And we all have a lot more of those these days, don’t we? If you’re rocking a smartphone, tablet PC, and an e-reader, for example, you may have three chargers plugged in by your bed 24/7. For a few hours every couple of days they’re useful, but the rest of the time they’re just draining your power. That’s bad for your bill, and bad for emissions.
Of course, you could make a point of unplugging chargers and devices when you’re not using them. But be honest — can you really imagine doing that every day? Remote devices to switch certain appliances off at the mains, like the Bye Bye Standby range, can make it easier for you, by letting you cut the power to unused gadgets with a remote control. But you could still forget, and besides, for every eco-minded somebody who does do it, there’ll always be 1000 who don’t.
No, the real answer is to eliminate vampire drain by designing gadgets and chargers that don’t use power when it’s not needed. And the last few years have seen some progress on that. In 2010, for example, Apple brought out a AA battery charger in order to allow users to charge the batteries in its wireless keyboard, mouse, and trackpad products, and made its low vampire drain a key selling point. But that’s just one type of charging. What about Kindles, phones, iPads, mp3 players…?
Well, these GreenZero chargers might just be the solution. Designed by Bracketron, a company better known for designing holders to mount a phone on a car dashboard, these chargers can power anything that can charge via USB — which includes most modern hand-held widgets, including the iPhone and iPad. So far, so standard. But here’s the clever bit: when you want to start charging a device, you press the big green button on the charger. When your widget is full to the brim with juice, the big green button pops out, and — the company says — the charger stops drawing power from the socket.
In reality, the big green button is a bit of a gimmick (although less of a gimmick than chargers which physically detach from the wall when they’re done, like the Leech Plug). Any button will do — the crucial thing is that this device stops drawing power when it’s done, and won’t start again until you press the button.
Of course, there’s a downside to that — if your device is something like a phone that uses power constantly, by the time you get back to it, it may have stopped charging and used up 20% of its power again. In the long run, the future to this problem isn’t buttons, but smarter electronics which stop drawing power when there’s no need, but know when it’s time to start again. In the meantime, though, these GreenZero chargers — set to launch next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — should help you keep your personal carbon footprint a little lower. And it looks like it might be fun putting your own footprint on them in order to turn them on, too.
For more on how to love both gadgets and our planet, see Energy Efficiency Apps for Your Smartphone – Top Five.