Feedback loop: Wasteful 'soft' switches, invest in 'green' energy
Below is a sampling of reader reactions to our report from the Applied Power Electronics Conference on soaring demand for energy efficient electronics:
To the editor:
Why did we ever move away from having a positve removal of power (i.e., a hardware on-off switch) from our electrical devices at the the power supply? Most, if not all, devices today have power being consumed by "soft" turn-on electronics, even when the device is supposedly "off". Who's great idea was that, and what purpose does it serve?
Yes, I know the old mechanical switches make some noise and feel clunky to some people, but they are extremely reliable. If some hardware engineers had taken on the challenge to design a more elegant switch, maybe the "soft" switches wouldn't have taken over.
This is one of two of my pet peeves about the digital age; even my tiny mp3 player has a "soft" power "on" switch, and that device is draining the battery, even when when it appears to be "off".
While I admit this happens very slowly, the fact is the device will drain the battery dry if I don't use it for several weeks, a waste of energy and an annoyance to the user.
So, how about a new challenge to the engineering community: Design a more elegant hardware switch and move away from "soft" power-on architectures? It doesn't take much thought to realize we could save one heck of a lot of energy just by having our appliances consume no power (zero watts) when we turn them off.
From the EE Times Reader Forum:
There could be no better investment in America than to invest in America becoming energy independent. We need to utilize everything in our power to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, including using our own natural resources.
Create cheap clean energy, new, badly needed green jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The high cost of fuel this past year seriously damaged our economy and society. The cost of fuel effects every facet of consumer goods from production to shipping costs.
After a brief reprieve, gas prices are inching back up. OPEC will continue to cut production until they achieve their desired $80- to $100-per-barrel goal. If all cars, trucks, and SUV's instead had plug-in, electric drive trains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.
For more, see a new book by Jeff Wilson called "The Manhattan Project of 2009: Energy Independence Now".