Smart Power Strip Definition

A smart power strip (also called a smart power bar) looks similar to a traditional power bar, however circuitry is designed to monitor and control power to each electrical outlet in the strip to improve energy efficiency and prevent household electronics from wasting power.

The outlets on the smart power strip are a standard size with several spaced to accommodate extra wide plugs. The area around each outlet is often color-coded to help users configure the strip for maximum power savings. For example, some outlets have an automatic shut-off after a set period of inactivity while others work together so devices are powered on and off as a group like a computer and the connected monitor, speakers and printer.

Always On, Main and Secondary Sockets

Most smart power bars work on a system of three types of controlled outlets for always on, main and secondary electronic devices:

  1. Always on outlets: Always on is good for things like a modem or satellite (the devices you always leave on).
  2. Main outlets: The main outlets are designed for the primary electronics, such as the television or computer tower.
  3. Secondary outlets: A third group of outlet is for electronics that are considered secondary to the main device, like a game console or printer.

Smart Power Strip Diagram

Image Description: Examples of electronics plugged into Always on, main and secondary power outlets on a smart power strip.

Electronics plugged into the secondary power outlets require the electronic device that is connected to the main outlet to also be powered on. To help save energy, the smart power strip will automatically turn off power to electronics connected to the secondary outlets when the main device is powered down.

Other Smart Power Bar Features

Depending on the exact model of smart power strip and manufacturer, some may offer additional features such as surge protection, a ground and surge status display or even USB charging outlets. When purchasing a smart power strip, consider any additional requirements you have to fit your home or small office needs such as right angle plugs, telephone/modem/Ethernet surge protection, motion-sensing remote to control specific outlets, the length of the power cord and any warranty being offered.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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