TV TrickleSaver by TrickleStar: A cost analysis

phantom load eliminator energy efficiency


Engadget recently posted an article on the TV TrickleSaver by TrickleStar. The purpose of the device is to cut off the standby power (a.k.a. vampire load) to your gaming systems attached to your TV. So when you turn off the TV, the TrickleSaver cuts off any standby power to your PS3 or XBox 360. While the device looks pretty slick, I'm not really buying the author's statement of "each of which should (in regards to PS3/Xbox) consume more than enough power to eventually cover the $34.95 price tag for the TrickleSaver."

My biggest problem with journalists/bloggers when they write about energy savings is that they don't bother to actually crunch numbers themselves! They just make statements and hope they are correct.

Luckily, I have a Kill-A-Watt so I can see how much my very own PS3 is consuming in standby mode. I just did this and I can tell you that my Kill-A-Watt is telling me that my PS3 consumes 1 Watt in Standby mode. So, to do a cost analysis on how much a TV TrickleSaver will save you by cutting off the standby power to your PS3 (or XBox or other gaming system) you do the following:

  • Estimate how often your PS3 is plugged in and not being used. For worst case scenario, I'll assume I never turn on my PS3 and it is always in standby mode. In my case, 8,760 (24 hrs/day * 365 days/yr) hours in a year
  • Multiply the standby load of the PS3 - 1 Watt - by the number of hours it is in standby mode. In my case, this comes out to be 8,760 Watt-hours.
  • Divide this value by 1,000 in order to get the amount in kiloWatt- hours. In my case, 8.76 kWh
  • Multiply this amount by your electricity rate.

I pay around 10 cents/kWh. Therefore, the TrickleSaver would save me at most about $0.87 per year! Wait....87 cents? How much does this thing cost again? Engadget says $34.95. That's a 40 year payback! So yes, the TrickleStar eventually covers the cost of purchase, as long as your PS3 works for 40 years!

To truly make a difference in your energy consumption, you have to go after the big loads first! Once you have those under control, worry about standby load. But you don't need to get expensive gadgets. Just get a power strip, plug the devices into it, and turn it off when not in use!

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Eli, Youre absolutely right. I am operating under the assumption that nobody would leave the power hungry PS3 on all the time, but I guess there are a lot of people who do that! I was just assuming the TrickleSaver is for limiting standby power to PS3, not operating power. It's really not that hard to turn off the PS3 when you're done with it, you just hold down the middle PS3 putton on the controller and it asks you to turn off system. Only lazy people need the TrickleSaver, but as I've said many times, this blog is not for lazy environmentalists, but those dedicated to doing all they can to reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact! Thanks for your comments and discussion!
<a href="" title="wikipedia: mercury in a CFL vs. power production" rel="nofollow">Mercury vs power production for incandescent</a> The quantity of mercury vapor in a CFL versus the mercury spewed from power plants to produce the electricity for more demanding illumination. There are programs to recapture the mercury in CFLs and other toxic electronics. I think the real problem with the PS3 is leaving it on for folding@home. 165 watts x 24 hours x 365 days a year = 1,455 kWh/year. I know people say protein folding simulations are for a great cause, but is it worth the carbon of 1455 kWh of power generation?
I bought a PC Tricklesaver. Works fine, just plugged my strip into it. Switches off my stuff when I am done with my PC. Nice n simple.
I also had a problem with Engadget's "reporting" here. I also apparently went deeper than just reading a blog post of a blog post of a blog post of a PR Wire "article" and went to Trickle Star's site and found their PC version. I think that if you leave your PS3 on Life With Playstation when it is idle and you turn the TV off, then you're saving about 160 watts. But you also may have crashed the PS3 while it's writing to disk, and that system really doesn't like that. What I found about the PC version of the TS is that it only shuts off your computer peripherals when the computer is completely off! IT CANNOT DETECT SLEEP, which to me makes it entirely useless if not for the 'save you money' button that you have to pay extra for. When my computer is on or not in sleep, I have a 75 watt monitor, 18 watt light, 11 watt speakers and 12 watt DAC on. when it's not, those devices draw zero on my smartstrip. But their total wattage in standby is also 28 watts, so they are a bigger annual load than a 1 watt ps3.
This calculation is incorrect. I read the article on the TV TrickleSaver and the $250 number is based on a PS3 / games console being left in the ON state - not in a standby state - so you need to get the numbers correct first. You are mixing up standby, idle and ON states. There is plenty of research that shows that a number of people leave their game consoles on all the time or in a n idle state - with no power management configured. NRDC published an article last year, see: and this shows that the PS3 consumes 150 watts in active mode, X-Box 119 - the Wii was best at about 20W. Any calculation that you do needs to look at number of hours in standby + number of hours idle + hours left on. Have a look at at this artcile they did a detailed power measurement with an accurate power tester. Lastly you should also look at doing an analysis on carbon pay-back and not just a financial pay-back. That would be interesting to see and much more interesting to know.
Brandon, Good comments, but as Eli says below, do you really want your PS3 cutting off without proper shutdown? My interpretation is that the TrickleSaver is just to limit standby power, hence the name "Trickle". I might be wrong on this though. My goal is not to bash the TrickleSaver, but to highlight the fact that people do not need a $40 gadget just to limit standby power. Instead of spending that money, just get up and turn off the console. I would rather see that money spent on 15 or so CFLs, which have a much, much larger economic and environmental impact.
Chris, I have a friend who says he's helping out by folding, and he really can't afford to keep that stupid brick on. Also, standby on tv power-off? When I'm watching a movie, and I have to use the facilities, i turn the tv off. Oops, there goes the ps3/360. My right index finger is still my power saver. Flip from 1 to 0.
Hey Eli. If you want the PC peripherals to be switched Off when you PC is in Sleep/Standby Mode just use the TV TrickleSaver!!!? Just connect the PC instead of a TV - that's pretty simple. So the products are not that "useless" anyway. /Bob
Bob, I dont know if the product is worthless, just that it has an extremely long payback if all it is doing is limiting standby/vampire load. Individuals put way, way too much emphasis on standby load and not enough on the large loads that really matter. Think of it this way. My AC uses around 2.2 kw. My PS3 or computer standby load is around 2 watts. Therefore, my AC has a 1,000 times greater impact when running. While the AC is only on intermittently and the standby is constant, it still pales in comparison to the large load. I'm sure the TrickleSaver is a "neat" device, but the money spent on it could be spent on much worthier energy saving causes.
guys i think we are talking about 2 different products here. a product for PC's and a product for a home theatre. Re the TV / PS3 product - my understanding is a good deal of people don't use the on-line capability of their PS3 and play in an unconnected mode - so not sure about the writing to disk issue. when they are finished playing they just shut off their tv and leave the console running - which is drawing tons of juice. if the tricklestar tv product can reduce that and it gives a payback within 12-18 months then it is worthwhile. re the pc product - from reading their website, i understand it is quite a simple product and just detects the state of the pc from the usb port - no software to install. i think the idea is to have a very simple product that can work with an existing powerbar which you don't have to install any software for. i have loads of peripherals connected to my pc. I don't think it is a big deal to shut down my pc to switch everything off - in fact i think it may even be better - because i don't want all my gear turning on and off when i wake my pc up. don't think it is a big deal to just turn off my pc when i am finished with it. i think i will get one and try it out. from what i can see the main thing to work out is what you want to connect to the tricklestar savers. not so sure about cfl's - i am all for saving power but what about all those nasty chemicals when it needs to be disposed of : )


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