back to article Power gadget set to cut electricity bills

A company based in the UK has launched an innovative way to quickly and easily turn off all that household electronic equipment more often than not left on power-consuming 'standby' mode: a radio-controlled power plug. Ivy Energy Saving's Standby Buster Ivy's Standby Buster: power cutter Dubbed the Standby Buster, it's a …


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  1. Chris Phillips

    let's reinvent the wheel!!!

    No one ever heard of a switch??? they're often standard features on todays modern Bakelite electircal aparatus...

    money for old rope.. what a waste of time. now there was another gadget i saw which monitored the power consumption on a master socket and turned it's slave sockets off automatically when it dropped, much better, but still... just get up and walk the 5 steps to the wall!!!

  2. Lloyd

    Yes, but

    Will it work through bookcases or is it line of sight? My plug socket for the TV, DVD, Sky, DVD Recorder, Amplifier, etc is behind my bookcases (the hardback section to be precise) will it switch it off?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the point of this is?

    I've got a far cheaper solution - it's this funny little thing on the wall socket called the 'off switch'. For those sockets in my house which don't have one of these, I use a technique called 'pulling the plug' - quick, simple and cheap (granted, the socket for my PS2/hifi combo is difficult to reach, but not insurmountably so)

    Oh yeah, my method also means that I don't have yet another remote control unit to lose behind the sofa ;-)

  4. Lee Staniforth

    Dragon's Den?

    Is this the same as, or related to, one of the products they showed on BBC2's Dragon's Den?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why would I want a remote control? One Click seems far superior! I turn off my {TV, computer, ...} and it turns off everything else connected to the same plug {monitor(s), printer, ....., DVD player, digi box, video player, ....}

    I am in no way affiliated with One Click.

    One Click:

  6. FP

    Novel? No. News? Really not. Advert? Hell yeah.

    How is this news? These things (from other manufacturers) have been available for quite some time - just off the top of my head I know that B&Q and Maplins sell them (the ones I bought are from a brand called Byron), and a whole bunch of other places if you do a quick Google search.

    What next - a Reg story on a wonderful new version of the telephone that - wait for it - has NO WIRES! This novel new way of communicating will also be available from Argos, no doubt.

    For those who don't want to wait for Argos to catch up, or want something with a slightly less tacky remote, head off to



    ...or just wander in to B&Q.

    I just hope the amount of beer this firm supplied El Reg to hock their wares was worth it!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Errmm... is it REALLY difficult to reach that socket switch? (for US readers, we have switches on our sockets)

  8. Rob

    Not to rain on the parade...

    But i've seen these for a few years in B&Q's. Never been tempted to buy them though.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a whole watt?

    So instead of leaving your telly on standby you are leaving the wall socket on standby, get off yer arse and do it properly.

  10. Neil Dawson

    ...or you could just....

    ...turn it off at the wall ... for free.

  11. Stephen

    wow 40 squid

    I think I'll just leave my equipment on standby so settings aren't lost thanks.

  12. jolly

    Standby - where do I start?

    So let me get this right, this newfangled contraption switches stuff off but keeps itself on standby. And on standby it uses 1W. So it's still not as good as switching everything off at the wall or via an inline switch. It also uses batteries for the remote and is YET ANOTHER REMOTE CONTROL to clutter up my living room.

    The manufacturers are selling this as green but it's just another way of leaving stuff switched on 24x7.

    Any while I'm ranting I'd also like to point out that my TV and DVD player, when on standby, use 0.3 watts total (according to a fine digital usage meter I bought from maplin). So if I use this remote standby contraption it will increase my "standby" power usage by over 200% ; great! :(

  13. jules

    How radical ?

    Not really anything to get excited about !

    Lidl were selling these three years ago with four slave units and a remote control for £19.99 and one of the slaves even had a dimmer function.

    Suffice to say I bought several at the time ......

    Ebay anyone :)

  14. Andrew Wood

    Old News

    I bought one of these devices from everyones favorite continental grocers Lidl some years ago. Thankfully it not a horrible garish green colour and is absolutely perfect for enforcing the end of TV time in the kids bedroom.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new

    I bought a remote controlled socket adaptor at Maplin over 2 years ago. They also do the packs of 4 and IIRC they're cheaper.

    I even bought a 3 pack of these things from a garden centre last Christmas where they were being sold as the easy way to turn on/off tree lights when the plug was hidden behind the tree. Luckily for me the two remotes I now have were compatible and can be configured to work with the sockets from the other set using dip switches.

    I will admit, these ones look nicer though........

  16. Darren Gallagher

    WTF is the world coming to?

    Have we really became a lifeform that cannot cope without a bollocksing remote control?

    To all those thinking of buying one.

    Stop being so B*stard lazy.

    Stand up, Walk to said plug socket, switch it off.

    Heavens forbid you may have to bend down or move furniture.


  17. Andrew Moore


    But how does it know when to power back up so that your Tivo or other recorder can record your programs???

    Also, is this the crowd that appeared on Dragons Den or did someone else nick their idea and beat them to market???

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not save even more?

    Well if you buy this for the first year you will only save £10, why not save the full £40 by just getting up and switing your devices off at the plug?

  19. Stephen Gazard

    person -> plug/device -> push button

    Whew! that was hard. I realise that's a (relatively) UK only thing to have wall sockets with switches, but you can buy extension leads that have rocker switches in most other countries.

    In some respects it makes things easy, but it's going a little over the top. As soon as I heard using a remote to turn items off at the socket, I was really trying to wonder how lazy people have become. Besides in most houseeholds, 3-4 remotes are not uncommon...

  20. Edwin

    new spin on old tech

    Hats off to them for using the environment (rather than the more common 'convenience') ploy as a selling point. I think that's the only novel thing here - similar consumer gadgetry has been around since the 1990s, if not the 1980s.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swiss Version

    Read of a swiss version recently which is much smaller. In fact a minaturised ASIC which will sit in the power line and do the same thing... just cant find the link.

  22. Richard Thomas

    Why not run levels for the home?

    Why not develop sockets where you can set a run level. Fridges and freezers would have a low run level, and TVs would have a high run level.

    When you go out, you change the run level for the house accordingly - just like UNIX :o) Your TV is powered off completely, but the freezer remains on...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But why...

    ...does it have to be so fugly???

  24. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    7%? Bo!!*^&$!

    Figures like this are made up by taking the worst performing gadget on the market and multiplying by 60 million.

    Back in the 1980s there were, briefly, televisions that had a stand-by mode which kept the tubes hot (so that you got a picture within seconds of switching on). This consumed almost as much power as having the set on. It also led to the urban myth that any gadget on stand-by uses as much power as it does when it is on. Well, that hasn't been true for twenty years and a TV from a competent manufacturer needn't draw more than a watt in stand-by mode.

    Yes, there's room for improvement, but we'll only get that improvement when folks start diggin around for the true numbers. A switch-your-brain-off-and-believe-this marketing campaign from someone selling an "off switch" is a step in the wrong direction.

    Lastly, if you are dumb enough to buy this product, you will soon discover that your video no longer records programs whilst you are out because, er, it is switched off.

  25. Colin Jackson

    Yeah but...

    "The Standby Buster consumes less than 1W - much less than a stack of AV equipment. It'll result in less carbon production too."

    Manually switching the systems off at the mains consumes, on average, 0W and is cheaper to implement. Get off your fat arses people.

  26. Bryce Prewitt

    Unfortunately, standby exists for a reason.

    Start-up times are vastly reduced coming out of standby as opposed to a hard boot. Not to mention that some of these devices lose configured settings if they are disconnected from the mains.

    I can't wait to see how angry someone gets that has to reset the date on their Xbox or 360 every time they use one of these retarded tools and can't figure out why.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The power of hype

    Interesting. Take an old product that's been on the market for years, paint it green, and sell it as the latest environmentally friendly gadget, even though it draws power itself, and of course requires disposable batteries for the handset.

    The whole standby argument is nonsense anyway. Most British houses have central heating, and anyone who is environmentally conscious will have it on a thermostat. Those few watts that leak out from equipment on standby will end up warming the room and will be compensated for by the fact that the thermostat will shut off the central heating a few minutes earlier. If your room stays at the same temperature, then obviously the net input of energy is the same, whether from standby electrical items (which might come from renewable sources) or central heating (likely to be non-renewable gas).

    Maybe if the UK had a climate where airconditioning was the norm there might be some reason for this, but otherwise it's just more ill-informed scaremongering from people that either don't know what they're talking about themselves, or who want to make money out of the gullible.

  28. Ryan


    Another remote to lose down the back of the sofa ;o)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They sold variants these about 5 years ago in Lidl. Got four sockets gathering dust in my garage now as I prefer letting my computers sleep for a quick wakeup and my settop box updates overnight.

    What people forget in the whole let's not waste energy debate is that the nuclear power stations don't turn off at night - they provide base demand so someone somewhere has to use the energy. Hence the prevalence of night-time rates for leccy.


    RE: Dragon's Den?

    The device shown at the end of the last series of dragons den (the Standby Saver) contained a rechargeable battery and learned the 'off' signal from your remote.

    therefore it has 2 distinct advantages over this product.

    1 - when in standby, the device uses NO electricity

    2 - no extra remote to loose

  31. Mal Franks

    Only 4 zones

    I hope the range of the remote isn't too large as if it becomes a popular purchase item from Argos I could see neighbour rage occurring especially in terraced housing.

  32. Neil Hoskins

    Ooo... now let's see...

    Computer, monitor, printer, scanner, powered usb hub, sound system, usb DAB radio, phone charger, TomTom charger, AA battery charger (for digital camera)... somehow I don't think four per remote is going to be enough.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not turn off at wall?

    Well in the case of my computer the plug is near inaccessible unless i move the bloody heavy desk that its on.

    In the case of my A/V system wall socket it's behind my A/V system and likewise inaccessible without rolling out the A/V table out of the alcove that it barely fits in and rolling it back in every time I wanted to switch and then spend a few minutes reconnecting the cables that have been yanked out!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: OneClick

    It isn't much use for my PC as there are times when I want to leave it running but not waste electricity on the monitor and speakers while I'm not requiring them

    Also it isn't much use for my a/v system as there's no one main device to choose from. I can't pick the TV as I listen to music through the a/v amplifier from my xbox 360 or sky hd box or sacd/dvd-a capable dvd player and I can't pick the a/v amplifier as I don't necessarily have it on to watch the TV.

  35. Grant Mitchell

    Wear and Tear of the on/off cycle...

    I'm not by any means an electrical guru, but there are those here that are, so I'll ask the question: I know that during turn on/off the likelyhood of failure is greater... is this true of on/off from standby? I've often wondered if the environmental impact of producing replacement devices for devices broken during on/off was greater than the cost of just keeping things running...

    Anyone know the answer to this one?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't use on inductive loads

    I've used the ones B&Q have sold for 6 years, tried the Maplin ones and a couple of others. They ALL, without exception fail on an inductive load of 2A (0.85 PF - anything lower than 0.8 causes the contacts to weld shut instantly) which is quite obviously less than the 3A inductive they are supposedly rated for. What's interesting is that they all have the same failure mode - the faulty unit will initially appear to have a control fault as it will turn on and off regardless of which "channel" button is pressed. A day or so later the contacts will weld shut. Totally repeatable across all the "different" models various places sell - despite the units claiming to be made by different companies. They're fine on resistive/PFC loads and are actually a very good idea for turning off TV/hifi kit where the socket is invariably out of reach at the back.

  37. Danny Roberts


    Are these things X10 compatible? Just wanted to know if the server I run 24x7 can control them! :-)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Power savings

    Thinking you're helping the energy crisis or the environment by unplugging your TV when you're out is like thinking you're going to stop a war by running across a battlefield holding a peace sign.

    If you want to help the world instead of giving yourselves masturbatory, holier-than-though pleasure rubs via pointless self-sacrifice, encourage investment in materials science research that can help the development of breeder reactors and deep-drilled geothermal power.

    In the meantime, I'll be using a 500 watt overhead projector as a wall clock just to piss you all off and negate the 'impact' of one or two thousand of you bloody mindless sheep.

  39. James Pickett


    I echo the thoughts above about the little heat from standby units offsetting the central heating. Also, electronic equipment likes being left on, so the 'standby police' are ensuring that it wears out more quickly through repeated power cycling, which is a lot less environmentally friendly than consuming a few extra watt-hours.

    About time the Law of Unintended Consequences was on the National Curriculum...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another (none)standard..

    X-10 whole-house remote control gear has been about for many years, with either similar plug-in switch modules or wire-in devices for neat installation.

    There are also newer, faster standards like UPB and Z-Wave

    With any of these you can have automated or timed controls as well as manual remote operation.

    As others have said, why do people keep re-inventing the wheel...

  41. Dave

    @Richard Thomas

    root@house~> Init 0

    Oh S*** there goes all my frozen food!

  42. JeffyPooh

    Stupid window-dressing

    Assuming that Global Warming is a major problem that needs to be addressed, let's get real and stop farting around with a watt here and a watt there. It is nothing but window dressing. It is the same as a kid with a $1k car with a six-inch diameter tail pipe - a 'False Finishing Touch'.

    "Look at me. I've done everything that I possibly can and now there's nothing left for me to do except address the trivial-by-any-standard standby losses on my home theatre kit."

    What's the footprint for manufacturing and shipping this useless crap?

  43. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    A battery

    I agree with the comment here - I'd just like to add, that devices could cut stand-by power to a total minimum if the standby circuitry was powered by a small battery, inside the device, that was kept charged by the unit when powered on. That would mean that the transformer could be powered off whilst in standby mode.

    Of course, there are a few details to work out, like, allowing a cold start if the battery happens to be dead etc. but these are easily doable.

    What would a rechargeable 9v battery use to power a tiny circuit and a led ? I'm sure we're talking microwatts!

  44. peter

    Other Devices

    What happened to that fridge energy saving device.

    When you open the door the thermostat detects the air temperature rising, and powers up to cool it. But items in the fridge take a lot longer to warm up, so you put this rubber block over the thermostat and only if that warms up does the fridge start cooling. It would save loads of energy caused by opening the door just to get something out.

  45. Jim

    But people are THAT lazy...

    So many people here are pointing out that you can save more power by actually turning the socket off/unplugging but they fail to realise that the vast majority can't even be arsed to do that.

    @Ken Hagan

    My understanding was that the tube was kept hot because the manufacturers were too cheap to spring for a second transformer to run the electronics. They just tapped off the fly-back converter that produced the multi kV for the accelerator circuit.

  46. simon

    Internet controlled

    This is an out of date and old fashioned method - pointing the bleeding thing at the wall sockets only gonna waste valuable bum scratching energy. What they need to do , seeing as they can get IP signals down the electricity cabling - is to assign an IPV6 address to each socket so's I can write some cron scripts to shut them down every night. This system could then be merged with a TIVO web-based front end for scheduling any nightly recordings.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Me bad back...

    Saves bending down, there's lovely isn't it?

  48. Mark Rosher

    Not exactly new...

    I've had a similar unit in my home for some time now. While the best way to economise is clearly to use the flippin' power switch (duh!) it does come in handy for holiday absences; I can turn off the entire network, monitors, storage units, printers, ADSL router and all the wall wort chargers that are normally needful - all at the push of a button rather than crawling in the dust. Yeah, I know, but it is easier....

  49. Jean Loup

    Ha Ha Ha

    They sold something similar in Lidl for a tenner. Is that a another case of rip-off Britain?

    By the by, I am using the one I bought in Lidl every day. I have alot of appliances on remote control. One more thing: it's not that I am lazy, you see, I am somewhat disabled.


    PS I am lazy too.

  50. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Of course...

    It can be handy for disabled people or the very lazy to 'standby-ize' something that can't normally be switched off remotely - like a lamp, or radio or cooling fan etc. -- it's the "this saves the environment" slant that is the bogus one!

  51. Mike

    Could help

    As an aging radio amateur, I applaud anything that will pique the adolescent's interest in things RF. The time spent figuring out how to bedevil the old coot who wouldn't return your ball will be amply repaid when the rest of us who know which end of the electron is up saunter off this mortal (scramble-wound) coil.

  52. matt

    newtons 4th law

    so, if i bought 4 of these and plugged them all into each other, would i save even more of my electricity, including that being used by the device itself ? or am i just crap at science ?

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