Ecosave Stops Standby Energy Leakage

Calling all electrical engineers: the challenge for the day is to explain in lay-man's terms how the Vigor Ecosave® works. This clever device was brought to the market in Germany by then 20 and 18 year old Fabienne Fischer and Marcel Fischer, after development at the Technical University of Dresden. It relies on a patented circuit which is claimed to reduce the energy needed to maintain standby to near zero. It does this by storing the small amount of energy needed to maintain the condition "on" or "off" in a bistable multivibrator before the electrical device is turned off. The Ecosave® then completely disconnects the power supply from the electrical device, putting an end to the seeping energy loss attributed by the International Energy Agency for consuming an average of 10% of household energy use in IEA member countries (range 3 - 13%). Of course, one question comes immediately to mind

when will the electrical device manufacturers buy the rights to use the patented circuit in every stand-by apparatus? This would overcome the fact that the Ecosave is not going to receive the approval of your Sheng Fui advisor, with its bulky power unit, wires and plastic disk receiver which must be installed using the supplied adhesive tape to a location in the line of sight of the remote signal.

Until that time, however, addicts of remote control convenience can turn to Ecosave®. It is easy to install and use. In fact, the hardest part of making this device work was wrestling under and behind the television stand to access the outlet, where the television must be plugged into the Ecosave® power unit which is then plugged into the outlet directly. If you have more prudently kept your outlets free from being blocked by heavy furniture, then you are more than halfway to successful installation of the device already.

The second functional part of the Ecosave is a small disk-shaped receiver, which must be programmed to communicate with your remote control. This is achieved by using a sharp instrument (in our case a mechanical pencil) to press the recessed programming button, waiting for the disk to blink and pressing the button on the remote which will in future turn the equipment on or back to standby. One disadvantage of the Ecosave® is that the disk will respond only to the one button which has been programmed, so if you are accustomed (for example) to turning the television on by pressing a channel button, you will have to change your habits. In practice, we found we had to press the on/off button twice in succession to actually get the screen to respond, but this may have been a programming error on our part.

The good news is that the device does appear to work. Shortly after beaming the device into standby, the standby light on the television winks out, indicating that the standby function integrated into the TV is no longer stealing power. Of course, since the device is not actively using grid power, it will run through the stored energy in about 14 days. If the device is completely discharged, it can only be recovered by using a special charging device, presumably also available from the Ecosave® supplier, Vigor GmbH. Better to remember to turn it off before you go on vacation. [By © C. Lepisto, 2005]