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Save Computer and Power with Surge Protector

As the summer approaches, more and more of us lucky folks with air conditioning will be sitting cool in the heat. For me, that means a lot of stress on my apartment’s very old electrical system and potential brownouts. To protect my computer equipment, I use an uninterruptible power supply for my desktop and surge suppressors on all my outlets. A surge protector plugs into your electrical outlet and protects any plugged in device from voltage spikes or fluctuations. It works by sending the interference or uneven power into the ground, instead of into your valuable equipment. It’s always good to update surge suppressors every few years, and I found this useful and environmentally friendly device in my own OWC backyard. It not only provides voltage protection and filters line noise, but also helps with unnecessary power consumption.

BITS Limited Smart Strip 10-outlet Power Strip

The intelligent BITS Limited Smart Strip 10-outlet Power Strip offers 2225 joules of protection with its 10 outlets. It is compatible with your computer and home entertainment equipment, and offers much more than simple surge and spike protection. It also powers down peripherals when you turn off your computer, depending on which of the ten outlets you use. If you think that’s just fluff, think again! According to some sources, your plugged in (and off) devices still use standby power; as much as 40% of the power that they use when on. According to Smart Home Systems, Inc., “Just a printer and a monitor can draw as much in idle current as a 60-watt light that is on 24/7.”

The Smart Strip Power Strip includes a Control Outlet, and three red-colored sockets that are always on. This means that your wireless router or telephone stay on, while your desktop Mac or printer are turned off. Another set of six outlets automatically turn off when you turn off the device plugged into the Control Outlet. This prevents the drawing of phantom power and consequently saves you money in your electric bill. Other features includes a six-foot heavy-duty power cord, lighted power switch, 45 degree angled plug, a 15 amp circuit breaker, and up to 60 decibel (dB) line noise reduction.

To satisfy your inner Geek, Smart Home Systems, Inc. displays an annotated photo of the Smart Strip circuit board on their site and another annotated graphic of the Smart Strip’s features.

While I can’t guess how much money the Smart Strip might save you, an equipment loaded-household may easily save the purchase price in power usage in only a few months. I can say that it is environmentally friendly, and with all its power saving features, it’s a good buy at only $34.99.

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  • I have the same issue with my mac g5 tower as the control input, even just got rid of my usb hub, but still experience the same problem: the comp goes to sleep, outlets shut off, but then , it wakes right back up instantly, turning all the outlets back on. I have adjusted the sensitivity to no avail

    • RE: USB hub causing computer to rewake.

      I have the same issues as others. Later generation (post 2007) Macintoshes have an issue where the USB powerdown is “seen” as an event which wakes the computer up again. This was apparently fixed with the 3G strips. You are supposed to contact Bits Ltd. (the manufacturer) for a replacement strip.

      Hope this helps.

  • Update:
    OWC Grant suggested removing the USB Hub (built into my monitor) from the equation to see if that helped. And it did! Without the powered USB Hub in the way, the Mac Pro’s sleep mode was enough to power down all the controlled devices.

    I had to move all my devices from the USB Hub to plugging in directly to the Mac Pro (which may not be a good long term solution).

    Thanks OWC Grant!

  • OWC Grant – Thanks for responding (too bad I can’t subscribe to responses). I understand the concept; this is the third Smart Strip I’ve set up. I asked a specific question without confusion.

    With my Home Theater configurations, I can turn “off” my control device (i.e. amplifier) and all other devices lose power. However, the control device isn’t really off, it’s in a standby state, waiting for the remote to tell it to turn back on. The Smart Strip knows the difference between the standby and “on” states and accordingly allows power to flow (or not) to the controlled devices.

    With my Mac Pro, I want to use sleep (or powered down) as the mode to stop powering controlled devices. Sleep is a low power usage state, and the Smart Strip is able to recognize it and cuts power to all the controlled devices. However, within a few seconds of taking the power away, power returns to all the devices and the Mac Pro powers back on.

    Are you using the Smart Strip on a Mac Pro? Do you use sleep to shut off all controlled devices?

    • Hi Roopesh…have only used such in an A/V set-up. Not sure why your Mac Pro is powering back up when plugged into Control Outlet…will investigate and post here. Thanks!

  • Neat idea, nice people, but it really didn’t work with my iMac. I read the manual, understand the plug designations and calibration. Did everything right. After several attempts to calibrate it, it locked up my iMac during start up. Could not reboot it by pressing the power button for ten seconds. Had to shut off the power at the Smart Strip. Also seems to have a power dip a couple of seconds after it turns on. Fine for A/V, risky for computer equipment.

  • I’m trying to use the Smart Strip with my Mac Pro (Nehalem) and everytime I put my Mac Pro to sleep it immediately powers back on. I can hear and see the attached peripherals power down and power right back on. I had two external HDDs attached, but unplugged them. I have my monitor and speakers still being controlled. Any thoughts? Does this smart strip work with the Mac Pro?

    • Hi Roopesh:

      You may be confusing “sleep” mode with turning off/powering off your Mac Pro. Try this…plug your Mac Pro into the Control Outlet. THEN, plug all your devices into the Switched Outlets.
      IF you want something to have a constant power flow (like a DVD player with clock), then plug those devices into the Constant Hot Outlets.