This UPS will scare off phantom power loads

This is the second in a series of green IT product reviews.

Making sure the computers and devices under your purview are as energy-efficient as possible has quickly become one of the core duties of the average network administrator. Of course, one area that can readily be overlooked is the device handling the power output, that is, the uninterruptable power supply (UPS) or surge-suppressing power strip.

Just because a device such as a printer or scanner is turned off does not mean that it is drawing zero power. Often these devices go idle and continue to use a tiny bit of electricity, sometimes called phantom or vampire power. Over time, and when multiplied by several hundred users, this unnecessary expense can really add up.

Many “smart” power strips are on the market now that cut power to certain sockets to help eliminate these “phantom loads.” However, they accomplish this by monitoring the power level of a master socket that the computer is typicaly plugged into, and that usually takes some guesswork on the part of the power strip. Besides, not one includes a UPS battery system, most UPS systems don’t have this power-saving feature, and generally you don’t want to cut power to the devices you need uninterruptable power for in the first place.

Tripp Lite Energy-Saving UPS SystemTripp Lite Energy-Saving UPS System

Pros: Regular and predictable shut-offs for Eco outlets.
Cons: A bit heavier than some users will want.
Performance: A-
Ease of Use: A
Features: A-
Value: A
Price: $111

Reviewer’s Choice

PREVIOUS: ColorQube proves you can't judge green by power use alone

The Tripp Lite ECO750UPSTAA Energy-Saving UPS System combines a smart power strip and UPS into one device, providing the best of both worlds. It measures 12 inches long by 6.75 inches wide by 3 inches high, which is the size of four to six regular power strips bundled together. Of course it weighs significantly more than several power strips, mostly because of the 750 volt-amp battery. However, at 8 pounds, 12 ounces it’s still manageable enough to carry with one hand.

The eco UPS has six sockets along one side that are connected to the battery, and six on the other that are not, having only surge-and noise-protection. Four of the latter have “Eco” capability, which means they will cut power to anything that is plugged into them when told to by the UPS. There is also a pair of telephone jacks that provide surge-suppression to a phone line (used for either a dial-up modem or DSL)

The Tripp Lite unit differs from other power supplies that manage the output of their sockets in the means it uses to figure out when it should cut power. Included is a special cable with an RJ-45 connector (typically on network cables) on one end and a USB plug on the other. The RJ-45 end is plugged into the communication port of the UPS and the other is connected to a computer. Whenever the computer shuts down, the Tripp Lite unit waits three minutes (in case it is just rebooting or momentarily loses connection) and cuts power to the Eco sockets. It will also do this if the computer goes into sleep mode. It did this without fail in our tests.

Dual-use power device

A typical configuration of powered devices might be as follows: The battery side would have your computer and things that you never want to turn off, like a cable modem or router. The Eco outlets would have devices that are never used when the computer is off, such as a printer or scanner. The last two outlets would be for items that tend to operate independently of the computer, such as a desk lamp. Using this or a similar configuration will allow devices the power they need when they need it, and save on electricity overall.

If for some reason you don’t want those four sockets to save you money, you can turn off the Eco mode by holding down a recessed button for a second. Once the LED goes off, the four outlets work just like the other two on that side, with only basic surge and noise-suppression.

With everything plugged in where it should be and Eco mode in full swing, Tripp Lite claims that this device could save up to $50 per year in electricity costs. These savings can really add up when multiplied by all of an organization’s users.

Trip Lite is selling the ECO750UPSTAA retail for $111. This is a very good price for a 750 volt-amp UPS system, let alone one with additional non-battery outlets. At this price it will pay for itself in fewer than three years. And that helps to make it a green IT star, earning it a Reviewer’s Choice designation to boot.

Tripp Lite, www.tripplite.com

TOMORROW: Big desktop performance in a, literally, Tiny package.

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