Review of the Belkin Power Strip w/ Remote Switch

So we are setting up our desk in the office and I have a ton of things that need to be plugged in.  Many of them pull a phantom load (use power even when turned off) so I need some convenient way of totally disconnecting them from the power outlet when not in use.


Sure, I could climb under the desk each time and unplug items, but I want something more user friendly as this will be something that is done multiple time per day.  My initial thought was a simple power strip with an on/off switch, so I went down to Home Depot. While browsing their selection of power strips I happened upon what appeared to be an ingenious device--the Belkin Conserve Switch, a surge protector with a wireless remote on/off switch designed to conserve power by making it easy to disconnect devices with a phantom load.

Perfect, I thought!  I'll plug all the computer equipment, hard drives, speakers, etc into the power strip which will be buried under the desk.  All I have to do is mount the wireless switch in a convenient location and I'm good to go.  Well, it was a good idea while it lasted.

And the Disadvantages...

The problem came when I hooked it up, turned the remote switch off and checked the inverter...which wouldn't go into "search" mode.  When no loads are detected, inverters will go into a hibernation mode called "search" where they use much less power and are continually searching for someone to turn a switch on so it can power up again.  So the inverter wasn't going to sleep.  I knew something must still be using power.

It didn't take long to discover that it was the power strip!  I plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt meter and sure enough, it uses power even when off.  After I unplugged the unit from the wall, our inverter went into search mode.

So while this device is a good idea and may be of slight benefit to folks who are on the grid, it is of virtually no benefit to off grid homesteads.

Nick Meissner

Nick Meissner’s adventure with homesteading and off-grid living began in the late '90s with a less-than-bare-bones budget. Over the past 12 years, Nick has taught thousands of people about renewable energy, homesteading, water systems, and independence in general. He's deeply in love with his beautiful wife Lisa and thoroughly enjoys their two children.