Un-Charge Your Charger

Reach under your desk and touch your cell phone charger’s wall wart. Is it warm? That warmth correlates to wasted electricity. Treehugger: 95% of all energy consumed by cell phones is used by the charger when the phone is not plugged in. Some interesting follow-ups in the discussions there — two readers extrapolate the rather small amount of waste to the entire population of Canada (32 million) and come up with 32.3 million kilowatt hours, or 196,977.08 barrels of oil per year. And that’s just cell phone chargers. In Canada. Extrapolate to the whole world, and to all devices with wall chargers, and the numbers get scary.

Other articles I’ve seen on this say the figure is closer to 2/3 of cell phone electricity, rather than 95%. But:

If 10 percent of the world’s cell phone owners did this … it would reduce energy consumption by an amount equivalent to that used by 60,000 European homes per year.

Nokia’s new phones will be visually suggesting that users unplug their chargers when not in use. Nice move on Nokia’s part, but makes you wonder why chargers aren’t made with sensors and switches, capable of turning themselves off when not in use. Apparently there is no technical barrier to building chargers this way – the absence of such switches now is purely economic.

I’m thinking of creating a home charging station, so all of our gizmos’ chargers can be plugged in to a single power strip with an on/off switch.

Music: Mission of Burma :: The Mute Speaks Out

6 Replies to “Un-Charge Your Charger”

  1. i made one out of an old small suitcase by drilling a hole in the back. this way you can close the lid and not see the millions of chargers inside.

    i didn’t know that about the power still going though, i’m going to start shutting them all via power strip. thanks!

  2. It also makes a huge difference what type of wallwart is used. The bulkier/blockier “classic” style of wallwart uses up a substantial amount of power when plugged in, even when not charging. These are often also notably heavier than the other type (though not always).

    More modern wallwarts (usually quite slim in comparison) use a switching-regulator design that vastly decreases the amount of power used when not charging. Most recent devices that I have purchased (ie Nokia cellphone, iPod) use these types. It’s a good idea to unplug them, they’re just “not as bad”.

    A lot of my music gear has the old style of adapter, and I keep them on separate powerbars that I can switch on when necessary.

  3. I think this is a huge failing on the part of the power adapter manufacturers. You know it would cost them something on the order of 10 cents to add a switch that turns off power consumption when the thing isn’t actually plugged in to the cell phone. But the consumer electronics business is so cutthroat they probably have to squeeze every drop of cost out of the things. So, no switches. Probably the only way to fix this is with a law mandating that chargers turn themselves off.

  4. > I’m thinking of creating a home charging station, so all of our gizmos’ chargers can be plugged in to a single power strip with an on/off switch.

    If you do, consider adding a timer switch to it.

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