Electrical Catastrophe and Waste

Last fall, and all within a span of a month, I had two computers and a gaming console die on me. I figure it was either coincidence or it was due to a series of brownouts/blackouts we recently had. Either way, I used it as an excuse to get some nice surge protectors and UPS systems for my electrical equipment. Before purchasing a UPS it is a good idea to measure your power usage to ensure you get a properly rated backup system. For my equipment, I took the peak values of both the watt and volt-amp (VA) readings while stressing the hardware. I then doubled those values when picking out a UPS backup to allow for growth, which will give me some additional run-time with my current setup.


The side benefit of getting a watt meter is that it allows you to monitor (over a period of time) how much energy is being wasted by your equipment. I found it pretty interesting how much power is being drawn by various components even while “off”.  Based on my measurements I’ve made more proficient use of the switches on the previously mentioned surge protectors, which will also help to drop my energy bill.


To give you an example, here are some of my recorded wattage readings while the various equipment pieces were in an unused or off state:


Xbox 360






Fiber optic box



As you can see, having these 4 components plugged into the wall they will consume about the same amount of energy as a 30 watt light bulb which burns 24x7.