In late, breaking news here in the Northwest, interest and support of advanced power strips is beginning to ramp up due largely to the RTF’s (Regional Technical Forum) decision in August to review and approve provisional savings for Tier 1 and Tier 2 usb power strip in residential applications through August 2015. Based on data provided by the BPA (Bonneville Power Administration), the RTF agreed to a reduction in savings for Tier 1 products, but more importantly, approved a significant savings level of 300 kWh for Tier 2 products installed on audio visual (home entertainment centers), by either owner or direct installation. This presents a substantial energy savings opportunity at a time when consumer electronics savings opportunities continue to wane as these products become more efficient (e.g. ENERGY STAR? qualified).

So before we get too far ahead of ourselves with the excitement of this new savings figure, some may be wondering – what is the difference between Tier 1 and 2 power strips? Good question.


Tier 1 products generally consist of one of several technologies to eliminate standby power draw (a.k.a. vampire or phantom load) of peripheral devices, such as DVD players, game consoles, stereos, receivers or speakers) while continuing to power devices in “hot” outlets, such as digital video recorders. While IR (Infrared), motion sensing and timer power strips have been available to the market for some time, the most commonly used technology is a master/control set up, which relies on a “master device” (typically the television). When the master device is turned off, it shuts off power to any peripheral device plugged into the controlled outlets.


Tier 2 products take this concept an important step further. Instead of relying on the television to be turned off to capture standby savings, Tier 2 IR based technologies will turn off all equipment (including the television) after a preset period of inactivity from the remote control, usually defaulted at one or two hours. This design leads to greater savings potential, as it not only reduces standby power but also active power waste. Think of all those times when we fall asleep in front of the television at night, or leave the room for an extended period of time with the television and assortment of audio visual devices running at full power. Those instances, even if infrequent, can add up to a significant savings opportunity, for which Tier 2 power strips are specifically manufactured to address automatically.


Several utilities in the Northwest are already showing strong interest in supporting the deployment of Tier 2 products to take advantage of this new and unique energy savings opportunity. And the time seems to be ripe from a manufacturing perspective as well. There are currently two major power strip manufacturers producing these products in volume to ensure that supply can meet expected demand.