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APC Power-Saving Surge Arrest Power Strip

Green Your Home with Tech: Part 1
By

$30 at Buy.com

Most computer users should already be using a protective power strip to keep their equipment safe in the event of a lightning storm or other unexpected power surges. With so many on the market, it was reassuring to see a few dedicated to saving electricity, as well. The APC Power-Saving SurgeArrest seemed to include all the features we would want in such a strip and it was very basic to set up and use.

The unit has a basic On/Off control that could be used as a Master control to all appliances plugged into it. We knew that it was working right away, as it had a green light indicating Protection Working. It also featured a red light to alert users of potential building wiring faults, which we fortunately didn't encounter in our test.

The SurgeArrest functions like many protectors, tripping the circuit breaker when overloaded, and forcing the black Reset button to pop out. As a remedy, remove devices one at a time until a safe load is reached, then reset the circuit by pressing the black button again.

Perhaps the best feature of the SurgeArrest is the Master/Controlled Outlets that let your computer control up to three peripheral devices, which can significantly reduce usage of unused appliances (or phantom loads). To see it in action, I set up my desktop tower as the Master Outlet (which was clearly marked on the power strip). I then plugged in my personal printer, speakers, and monitor into the three Controlled Outlets. Every time my computer would go into Hibernation or Power-Save mode, the three peripherals would lose power and shut down. (Note: to be sure that your computer is set up for the Power Saving feature, access Power Options and the Power Schemes under the Control Panel of Windows-based systems. Mac users can do the same thing with Energy Saver in the System Preferences.

This configuration made it easy to cut down on power used by the peripherals that I tend to leave on most of the time, with zero effort on my part. The remaining outlets were perfect for items such as my router and shared Wi-Fi printer that I didn’t want to power down whenever my desktop went into hibernation mode. 

Home network users will need to be aware of what peripherals will be used exclusively by the Master machine. In our home, it wouldn’t include anything that my laptop or other wireless devices need to access. These items should not be plugged into the Controlled Outlets.

The SurgeArrest is nothing fancy to look at, but it covers about everything you would need in a unit. With the added modem, fax, and phone protection (which allows you to plug in a standard phone cable into its jack), you can keep your phone wiring safe from surges, as well. We also liked the wall mounting feature, which lets you keep your cords up off the floor and in a safer, cleaner area of your office.

The SurgeArrest from APC has a total of seven outlets.

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  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , February 11, 2009 3:35 PM
    Does the LED bulb loose lighting in some fixtures since half of the bulb is covered?

    I have seen so many color temperatures of CFL bulbs that you "should" find something to match your tastes.

    Outdoor in the cold does remain a real issue for CFL bulbs that are not left on for extended time(Motion lights) since there is a warm-up time.
  • 0 Hide
    Fadamor , February 11, 2009 4:31 PM
    I'm amazed at the math some people like to use. $39.95 @ Amazon.com translates into "it might very well be worth the $30 to start switching out bulbs on a conservative schedule."

    Of course, in an article on a Green Earth-dedicated site a year ago reviewing the Pharox bulb, the price was quoted as $60.00. So maybe our intrepid columnist was thinking about costs in the future.
  • 1 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , February 11, 2009 5:54 PM
    Fadamor, the Amazon.com link is not to the cheapest place to buy a Pharox bulb on the Web. It is simply to a reputable place. We are confident you can find it for cheaper elsewhere.

    Thanks,

    Rachel Rosmarin
    Editor of Tom's Guide
  • -1 Hide
    A Stoner , February 11, 2009 6:30 PM
    How much of the cost of these things are actually in energy consumption to manufacture. I can guess that the material cost for these is more than for a typical incandescent, but probably not by a factor, more likely double. The rest of the cost then has to be in energy used in production. I can buy (4) 75 watt light bulbs for about $1.29 if I do not care what brand I get, or I can buy (4) 100 watt light bulbs for as much as $6.95 if I want a high quality name brand. I can also buy some that are simply $5.95 each if I want 6500k 100 watt name brand. If you say the reason for the cost is simply more expensive materials to make them, why is the material so expensive? Is it because there is very limited available anywhere, or is it because it takes alot of energy to get it out of the environment and turned into a production ready substance? In the end, you can almost always trace the cost of an item back to the total energy required to produce it. While 50,000 hours is a long time, many times these things will be replaced long before they give out. From the time I was a child until I left for military my family probably turned in 5 TVs to salvation army in still working order. People upgrade, and at the rate that things change in todays society it is much more frequently. In the future it will probably be even more so. So while this light is nice today, and if you keep it for your lifetime it makes sense, but I say it is more likely it is like a computer, while you could probably spend $10,000 and have the fastest thing in crysis around, next year you will likely be dumping your old machine and upgrading to the next $10,000 machine that has new features. For lightbulbs the features could be light output, light color, dimmable, new fixtures specifically made for LED lighting, a higher efficiency solar panel or what ever. The likely hood of someone keeping these particular lights installed for decades is probably very minimal.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , February 11, 2009 9:34 PM
    Stoner,

    I can see that you are trying to make a good point. But the truth is, you have no more information than we do. Of course, we don't know how much more energy a Pharox Bulb costs to manufacture than a standard or a CFL. Over a period of 10 years, I would guess that you'd be saving both energy AND money AND natural resources to use the Pharox instead. I'd wager the same is true for every product on this list (and the item they would replace). If anyone has evidence to the contrary, we are very eager for it!

    Thanks,
    Rachel Rosmarin
    Editor of Tom's Guide
  • 2 Hide
    Dekasav , February 12, 2009 2:21 AM
    With new technology, though, it's not always about making money on the product, but returning on the investment of developing the technology. Think of the Pharox bulbs like a prescription drug, it costs little to manufacture but lots to make the first one. After research and development costs are recouped, the price will likely settle closer to the materials and energy used to make it (the physical bulb).
  • 1 Hide
    Area51 , February 12, 2009 2:56 AM
    Rachel,
    It is one of the best postings I have seen in a long time from Toms... Great job, and I hope to see further postings like this.
    Thanks again
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , February 12, 2009 5:27 AM
    Thanks Area, You will see more stories like this--we're going to be running a 3 part series on making homes greener through technology. Stay tuned!
  • 0 Hide
    tank , February 12, 2009 11:23 AM
    Great technology article. From a homer owner's standpoint I must ask why should I switch? Can you maybe show some stats of how this technology saved you money? Give some conclusive evidence showing the benefits to switch and use some of these gadgets. Again great article.
  • 0 Hide
    A Stoner , February 12, 2009 12:29 PM
    I am not trying to say that over ten years you would not save money. The thing I am noticing about many of the items is that they last 25, 30, 50 years. The question then must become whether a person will keep them in use for those 30 years to get the advantages offered. It could be two years down the road better items come out and these things get replaced with those new items and these items end up in storage or the dump. I just want to make sure that people look at the upgrade from every perspective available. While the light bulb is state of the art today, there is no reason to beleive that they will be state of the art in two years. Light quality and intensity would be the two factors I would think would be most likely to cause a person to change these bulbs. Some people care about the color and brightness of their lights, I know other people who are just as happy with a 40 watt yellow tint bulb as a 60 watt soft white. If a person is in this group, chances are slim they would change out these bulbs in a lifetime. Other people, like me look for specific brightness, color and would be very likely to toss these in the storage closet as soon as closer to my ideal light came out. I would replace those as soon as the next better light came out and so forth.
  • 0 Hide
    lordfisch , February 12, 2009 1:30 PM
    I've been reading Tom's for nearly 7 years, and this article prompted me to finally register and respond. Wonderful article, and I hope this marks an upswing from some of the unfortunate events that have happened around the various Tom's sites recently. Thanks and keep up the good work.
  • 0 Hide
    A Stoner , February 12, 2009 2:24 PM
    lordfischand I hope this marks an upswing from some of the unfortunate events that have happened around the various Tom's sites recently.


    Did I miss something around here?
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , February 12, 2009 2:59 PM
    tankGreat technology article. From a homer owner's standpoint I must ask why should I switch? Can you maybe show some stats of how this technology saved you money? Give some conclusive evidence showing the benefits to switch and use some of these gadgets. Again great article.

    We might update at some point when we've collected enough "data" from the utility companies. Hard to gauge exactly how much you've saved without a series of electric bills, know what I mean?
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , February 12, 2009 3:03 PM
    A StonerI am not trying to say that over ten years you would not save money. The thing I am noticing about many of the items is that they last 25, 30, 50 years. The question then must become whether a person will keep them in use for those 30 years to get the advantages offered. It could be two years down the road better items come out and these things get replaced with those new items and these items end up in storage or the dump. I just want to make sure that people look at the upgrade from every perspective available. While the light bulb is state of the art today, there is no reason to beleive that they will be state of the art in two years. Light quality and intensity would be the two factors I would think would be most likely to cause a person to change these bulbs. Some people care about the color and brightness of their lights, I know other people who are just as happy with a 40 watt yellow tint bulb as a 60 watt soft white. If a person is in this group, chances are slim they would change out these bulbs in a lifetime. Other people, like me look for specific brightness, color and would be very likely to toss these in the storage closet as soon as closer to my ideal light came out. I would replace those as soon as the next better light came out and so forth.

    For a certain subset of consumers, this is definitely true--but I can't imagine it is true for the whole. I imagine that when it comes to lightbulb consumption, most people have been sticking to the same brand/brightness if they've lived in their residence for a certain about of time. Most people haven't even considered switching to CFL yet, and that technology has been around for a long time. I think we're actually a real "tipping point" right now with bulb technology in that we're looking for a mainstream bulb that everyone will stick to for a while (just like we did with incandescents).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 12, 2009 3:43 PM
    Great article. Looking forward to reading the next one. Am planning to buy a new house, and coming up a with an overall investment plan to reduce costs over time. Would love to see maybe an article focusing on high tech usage for water use (solar water heater, monitoring), latest power generation for a house (small windmills, solar panels), etc.. As well, my tip for reducing electricity in the house - just like in office building, washroom mainly - is to put motion censors instead of light switched in as many rooms as you can depending on usage. No only you don't have to worry about forgetting to turn off the lights, it's actually easier when you walk into a room and lights turn on automatically! Cheers.
  • 1 Hide
    knutjb , February 12, 2009 9:58 PM
    Good article, I look forward to future installment on this subject. My Dad had fluorescents in the house since the late 60’s. Didn’t like the color but understood the rationale, saving money. I’m not a ecofreak but I like saving money (a significant flaw with the environmental movement they should promote saving money in lieu of the guilt trip). I have been using CFLs for 14-15 years. The color problem has improved tremendously but varies by manufacturer. LEDs have a way to go before colors are consistent and reliable for a reasonable price. Long life natural white light LEDs are expensive and vary in color output over time. They are getting better but are way too spendy for the output.
    I would like to see how much power is lost converting solar panel dc-ac, I have heard it’s around 35% and that is substantial loss of electrons.
    I hope TG can show products that provide real savings, could be extra money for new computer parts or other toys.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 13, 2009 11:31 AM
    Regarding the cost of the bulbs:

    I belive its the manufacturing process that's partly to blame for the cost. With standard bulbs we've been making them for 100 years. The process is now 100% automated. The standard bulb you buy in a store has not been touched by a human since it was a raw material and the box placed on the shelf.

    With LED lights there isn't the market sharet yet to justify large scale investment in automation. With that said, I think we are turning that corner now. Just last week I bought a three pack of LED bulbs from my local Costco. When warehouse stores start to sell these things in bulk I think we'll see the price fall quick as it opens up this alternative for all the folks still not convinced to shop online.
  • 1 Hide
    waffle911 , February 13, 2009 2:43 PM
    Maybe, if people only end up using these for a few years before better ones come out, there will be a market for used bulbs. That would be interesting, and it would help bring energy efficiency to households that otherwise could not afford to upgrade.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 13, 2009 8:24 PM
    Awesome article! keep these green / energy efficient stories coming. I just bought a new house and would like to remodel it while also making it much more energy efficient.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , February 17, 2009 1:08 AM
    I still think LED lighting is for 24 hour use and minimum maintenance. it is not a good investment if you plan using it only for night time.
    for dimming and using the light for less than 1 hour a night, incandescent still is, while fluorescent is for more hours than that and desire for white/bluish light.

    so, it is the knowing well the purpose and performance to achieve efficiency.
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