Picture of Eliminate Standby Power with a Desktop Power Switch!
We all know it's happening. Even when your appliances (TV, computer, speakers, external hard drives, monitors, etc.) are turned "OFF," they are still actually on, in standby mode, wasting power. Some plasma TVs actually use more power in standby mode than they do when in use! About 13% of household energy use is from appliances in standby mode. It has been estimated that Americans spend around $4 billion on standby power every year. Generating the electricity for appliances in standby releases 27 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere (every year).
Seriously, standby mode sucks (power). So I decided to help out. By re-wiring the switch from the power strip under my desk up to a box on top of the desk, it is now easily accessible. Every morning I turn the key to deliver electricity to my computer, hard drives, speakers, and monitor, and every night, I turn the key the other way, cutting power to my appliances, thereby foiling their attempts to raise the energy bill. It works great! Please comment, rate, and VOTE!

Step 1: Supplies

Many of the parts I used are interchangeable with other similar parts. These include the type of switch, LED, project box, etc. If you want to be boring, you could just re-use the switch and LED from the power strip.

- Power Strip with LED indicator (that you don't mind hacking up a little)
- Key switch (Jameco #106650)
- 3 mm LED
- Small project box (Radioshack catalog #270-1801)
- Cable wrap (Jameco #1585531)*
- 115VAC-capable wire*
- Relatively thin wire for LED*
- Small heat-shrink tubing
- 2 small zip-ties
- Thin metal plate (fits where switch and LED were on power strip)
- Velcro strip
- Gorilla Glue and/or superglue
- Electrical tape
*needs to be long enough to go in between power strip and box location

- X-acto knife
- Soldering iron w/ solder
- Heat gun
- Wire cutter/stripper
- Desoldering pump
- Dremel
- Tin snips
- Large-ish clamps
- Drill with various drill bits

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I know there is a "be nice" comment policy but I happened across this project and it really should be pulled. It is a complete liability risk for instructables and there are several safety problems and design defects. As a Professional Electrical Engineer I have a responsiblity to comment and warn.

Just off the cuff:

-Hacking into a line voltage, CSA/UL certified device like a power bar violates that certification. Should your house burn down and the cause be traced back to this hack your insurance coverage would be in doubt. I know there are probably alot of other alterations on instructables that fall into this category but with the deceptive simplicity of this project and the defects below I think it is a higher risk than most.

-You are pulling a cable out of a 15A rated device to ta 3A rated key switch in series. If you look closely you will notice the powerbar switch being replaced is rated 15A.

-The hole cut in the power bar has an ungrounded metal filler panel, no gromment/strain relief.

-Cable may be a suitable current rated line cord but that is not emphasized and it is guarded by simple wireloom in an exposed area.

-Run to switch and metal switch is *UNGROUNDED*.

-Current limiting and wiring protection/strain relief of LED wiring is questionable.

In summary this is a cute idea but the implementation has several design defects and risks to the unwary.

not LOL.... This guy forgot to connect the MOST important wire. The earth wire should connect to the exterior of the switch he is using. This will provide infinitely greater insurance against electric shocks.
DIYByKev2 years ago
Nice! But isnt it dangerous to play with that much of voltage?
Gaark4 years ago
To be totally honest, every time I see an instructable messing about with mains voltage I feel real fear.

Whether it's 115V or 240V please please be bloody careful. A shock does NOT feel good, and I say that from experience unfortunately.
that when the smart child goes and grabs a new cord lol
i agree! shocks are well shocking lol australia and its 240 volts lol

still gunna try this though bahahaha
Makes for a great hairstyle though!
XboxModz3 years ago
This is actually NOT a good idea to use with a PC. Reason being is when you cut off the mains to a PC, the CMOS battery on the motherboard has to kick in to keep your PC clock set correctly.

Under normal circumstances, a CMOS battery lasts for years because it is only used when there is no power to the tower, like during a power outage, but with this setup, you will drain it much faster as it is being drained for 8 or so hours every night. You will almost negate your savings on the electric bill with the cost of replacement CMOS batteries. They aren't cheap.
Surely it's just as bad as flicking the switch at the wall? And A LOT of people do that...
jj.inc XboxModz3 years ago
Tinworm5 years ago
I don't get it. What's wrong with just turning everything off at the wall?
doing that's less convenient for us lazy people.
are you serious! No disrespect, but is it really worth all the effort of making your control box to save yourself the hassle of walking to the wall and switching off at the mains!
Thats fine if you're outlet is easily accessible. My power board is screwed to a block wall behind the desk the PC is on. No way am I crawling on hands and knees under the desk twice a day to switch my computer on and off.
That's fair enough. I guess you are in the US, where I think domestic wiring is different?

It is a very tidy bit of design. I like it.

I just didn't understand it, and I do now. Here the mains switch is next to the plug, so you stick an appliance (or and extension if the appliance is inaccessible) in the socket on the wall and flip a switch.

That said, I have power running to mine all the time, even when the PC itself is off (which I know is wasteful).

In the case of a PC which won't boot down because of some crash or sometjing freezing, my PC comes with a kill switch on the back (and I have my tower mounted on the wall sideways, so that I can reach everything on the back and on the front.

Best Wishes, omnivaal
Actually, in most cases we choose to have our power blocks in that location. It makes for a much less cluttered workspace. Replacing the manual switch with a key switch is actually a better idea than leaving it; if you don't, you might accidentally cut power to your appliances, in my case a computer.
I just put everything on a few remote controlled sockets in my bedroom and when I go to bed, I just press one button and my whole room is pretty much turned off! :)
That's a really good idea (4 us lazy peoplz or people who like to have convenient electrical control). But isn't it bad to have more than a few things plugged into one outlet? A fire hazard? Hmmmm... well, I guess I DO have 10 things plugged into one socket... (2 computers, a fan, a monitor, a printer, 2 pairs of speakers, 2 wireless routers, a backup battery for the USP this is all plugged into, and I guess 11 because sometimes my iPod is plugged in...) Meh, nevermind... But still, its a good idea...
And... You just necro'd a thread that was left to die over a year ago.
danielemur5 years ago
Not to be rude or anything but what is the difference between turning the devices off with a key or switch? Or am I just missing the point of the project?
Radioactive_Legos (author)  danielemur5 years ago
I chose to use a key switch because normal toggle or rocker switches could be bumped on accident. the key still is a switch, but it is a "safer" type.
Maybe you could have 5 toggle switches all going to the power strip facing opposite directions for every other one so that you have to turn all of them off the opposite direction of the on position so it is more confusing and more expensive to make and use.

Like this:

\/ /\ \/ /\ \/

The arrow-type things are the direction of the toggle switches.
That makes sense. Thanks for clearing it up!
Revanchist3 years ago
Oh I love it! You sir have given me a great Child lock idea! If I want to block access to TV or a video game console or any electrical equipment all I have to do is turn the key off!! this is awesome! thanks!!!
is it just me or does that lock only have one pin
This is a lot of work. I just mount my power bar in a place where I can reach the Switch. The little Key switch used on the remote of the power bar should be rated at 15 Amp, with wire to hold the same Current.
I find my modem to take the most power when not in use, it has no standby mode and takes many minutes to reconect if it gets powered down.
Some Computers use the standby power to offset the battery power, so the few cents you save on AC power may cause a bigger cost in battery replacement.
The one computer desk I have has a split power bar built in, 1/2 is switched at the front, and 1/2 is live all the times. This is handy to turn off speakers and printers that do not need to be on all day.
Your Idea is good, and saving energy is good. The use of splitloom for 110 volt wire protector, not so much as far as UL and CSA. Keep it safe.....
DarkStarPDX6 years ago
I would just make a short note about the keyswitch only being used on a maximum of 3 amps (or 360 watts in N.A. --- volts x amps = watts). A lot of computer power supplies are now exceeding this wattage alone, without the monitor connected...
I totally agree. This is a great little project, but the switch you're using is going to melt one of these days, and could possibly cause a fire.
I would use a relay rated at least 10A (2300W where I live) and the relay would have a mains coil so it uses no standby current :)
Yikes! I just checked the specifications on the Mac Pro and it pulls 12 amps. That is a lot more than 3 :-)
12 amps at 12 volts - you need the amps at 110v (likely around 2 or 3) volts times amps are watts - so the mac is 150 watts... divide by your voltage of choice to get the amperage.
I just double-checked the Mac Pro Tech Specs (http://www.apple.com/macpro/specs.html) and a little down the page it actually states that the current is a maximum of 12 amps in the low-voltage range (100-120 volts).

So, the Mac Pro utilizes a maximum of 1,440 watts given the nominal voltage where I am (Oregon) is 120 volts.
low voltage range is not 110 :P 12 amps is what a space heater pulls. 15 amps on a 110 volt line is indeed ~1500 watts. Computers usually ship with a 200-300 watt power supply (peak). High end gaming systems push 700 watts...rarely 1000. 1400 watts would frankly catch fire :) That must be a typo. It is true that you will pull half the amps at a given wattage by doubling the voltage...but that is just way too much power for a computer, even a mac pro.
dark sponge6 years ago
Project boxes are evil.
YOUR EVIL! project boxes are my LIFE!
Then good job at killing the planet! Plus, no true geek uses them. We use altoids tins, cases from broken stuff, or don't even use a case at all.
Radioactive_Legos (author)  dark sponge6 years ago
Several things: 1. It's spelled g-3-3-k. 2. An altoids tin wouldn't work because they are metal, and besides, they're too small anyway. 3. I don't have any cases from broken stuff because I take good care of my stuff. 4. Not using a case would kinda expose you to 120VAC and several amps.
1. I spelled it that was so he could read it. 2. It's easy to cover it with something (like tape) to insulate it. 3. So does that mean your computer from 1994 is in perfect condition and you still use it? 4. There are projects that don't use 120v. Microcontroller projects (<5VDC) look cool without cases.
Ummmm... Is not Electrical tape just made from Plastic and dead horses? (melted down into glue) ....
Radioactive_Legos (author)  dark sponge6 years ago
1. Fair enough ;) 2. I wouldn't feel comfortable trusting my computer to some tape. 3. I don't have a computer from 1994. Partly because I'm 14, also because I'd rather have an Apple II. 4. I thought we were talking about enclosures for the switch. 5. Talking like this is kind of fun.
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