Digital / Analog Converter Box: Do the Math

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by hill, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Lets guess how much the 'cost' will be for the latest upcoming event ... when analog TV goes away. All those converter boxes ... just sitting there in the 'OFF' position ... but still drawing what ... maybe 5 watts? Somewhere between 15 & 50 million boxes (one or more per every other household, or every 10th household ... you guess) sucking power. I duno, but I'm thinking it can easily be in the megawatts of extra draw, easily. Where is THAT new power plant being built?
     
  2. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    We just realized the other day that we only get 1 channel on the telly now. I guess we'll buy a converter just so we can stay informed in case of some sort of emergency, but we never watch regular programmes. We don't have cable, we just use ours as a NetFlix display unit.
     
  3. dwdean

    dwdean Member

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    I don't know about you, but that's why I keep the TV, cable box, DVD player, PS2, etc. on an easy to reach power strip. The TV etc. gets turned off with the remote and then as I leave the room I hit the switch on the power strip; that cuts any draw that the devices might have when they're not running as the strip is no longer energized.

    Yeah, there have been a few times where I've forgotten to turn the power strip on before I got the remote in my hand, and yeah that resulted in some creative cussing, but all in all it works out pretty well.
     
  4. rpatterman

    rpatterman Thinking Progressive

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    If I had not seen this thread, I probably would not have noticed until football season. Down to just one station here in Colorado. Check the news evertime I turn on the computer. way more convenient than waiting until 10pm and then sitting thru commercials.
     
  5. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Has anyone actually tested one of the converter boxes in the off position? Wouldn't surprise me if it pulled 5 -15 watts. Seems that for stuff like this we need to be setting such energy consumption specs from the outset (garage door openers, cable boxes, etc.)
     
  6. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    the box will have a status light and some power to remember settings when plugged in, so ya, it will most likely be using something. the cable box i had (no more tv, got rid of it) had a red light when off, green when on
     
  7. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    We do that too. Same for the computer/printer/speakers.

    The powerstrip for the telly/dvd/vcr draws 19 W when it's "off".
     
  8. dwdean

    dwdean Member

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    Yeah, it's really amazing what some of this stuff draws when it's "off".
     
  9. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Unfortunately, for nearly all cable boxes the difference in power consumption from on to off is about nil. There was even a nice report about this that I linked to in another thread.

    I'm powerstripping selectively: all the PC peripherals including cable modem, router, printer, scanner & speaker, but the PC's and monitors are going through the UPS's. One of my monitors draws 0.5W in standby so I don't bother with it. The other draws about 2.5W but I'll probably replace it this year.

    The main waste on the TV is our Motorola cable box at 15W. I've got it powerstripped and the kids have gotten very good about shutting it down. Since that seems to be working I'm going to put the old CRT TV on it as well (left it off my vampire spreadsheet...forgot it was 2.5W). My other smaller TV only pulls 0.5W when off and it's DVD only player pulls 1W.

    The old combo DVD/VCR's are power hogs. Mine runs 7W in standby. Unfortunately, it is a bad candidate for powerstripping since it does a lengthy autoprogram each time and the kids use it frequently. I want to replace it but the candidates I've found so far have an extremely short lifespan in all reviews.

    I might powerstrip my 6 CD changer player separately. I rarely use that particular one and it pulls 4W. I can't powerstrip it with the TV as the silly thing (CD player) starts running whenever it is plugged back in...it is one of the ways to tell if there has been any sort of power dip/outage.
     
  10. donee

    donee New Member

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    Hmm,

    I wonder if all the electricity wasted sending duplicate programing on the Analog stations is overiding the converter box levels? Maybe we should have a DOE rulling that all the analog stations go off on EARTH DAY instead of June 12.

    Also, the Digital stations can send up to 5 SDTV signals. That is 1/5 the broadcast power per channel.

    Think of HDTV as the HOV lanes of the airwaves.

    Lets see, 50/5 is 10 KW per station. Instead of 50 KW broadcast power. That means 40KW broadcast power is saved. But transmitters are only about 50 % efficient. SO, that is 80 KW saved instead. But, not all stations transmit 5 stations, and some add new stations that were not there before. So, lets say its 40 KW saved due to usage levels per station. In Chicagoland there are about 15 analog stations. That is 600 KW saved in transmitter power.

    My converter box is stone cold off or on. So, its no way its 5 watts when off, it would be toasty. Probably more like 1 watt. 2 Converter boxes per family, average family is 4, that means 1 converter box for two people, or .5 watt per person.

    600KW / .5 w/person is 1.2 million people, but in Chicagoland its closer to 8 million people. Not as bad as you guys were talking about, but still more power. CFL's and LCD TV's will help it out. I am going to avoid my tube TV and watch on a LCD monitor come summer. Remember, in the winter in the midwest, the wasted heat does not get wasted. It saves gas.
     
  11. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    I take it you didn't get a model with an Energy Star rating?
     
  12. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    True to some extent, especially in midwinter. The limitation I see is that if you have extra heat production (via electrical loss/use) in rooms that really don't need it then only a fraction is useful. Lighting is often the worst as a lot of heat is dissipated at the ceiling where it does less good and produces more stratification. Utility rooms with HVAC equipment are likely to be subcooled/superheated relative to the rest of the house and often they are along 1, 2, or 3 exterior surfaces. So as far as comfort control goes heating in the cases I listed above probably isn't anywhere near 1:1 reduction. However, other rooms may be, especially if they are ones that often determine whether the thermostat should be bumped up/down.

    When calculating heating reduction you might choose a factor like 0.5 (no precision that, I just pulled it out of thin air) as a conservative estimate to handicap benefits. On the other hand when calculating the hit in summer, it is more conservative to apply 1.0. Of course, one must use an effective AC coefficient of performance to adjust AC electrical use vs. the electrical heat duty added.
     
  13. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Just because appliances get an Energy Star rating doesn't mean they still can't pull an easy 5-ish watts while in the 'off' position.
     
  14. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Check the Energy Star page for these DTA boxes:

    "DTA converter boxes that have earned the ENERGY STAR consume no more than 8 watts in On Mode and 1 watt in Sleep Mode and automatically power down after 4 hours or less of user inactivity."
     
  15. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Untrue from what I've gathered. Is there a particular appliance you are thinking of? Because the ones I've seen/own with Energy Star ratings pull 1W or less when off. The sleep mode has been the major driver in many Energy Star ratings.

    In fact, with TV's the Energy Star rating has been ridiculous (only concerned about off mode from what I can tell) until this new iteration where they are finally going to have some meaningful operating performance criteria. It's one of the main reasons I'm holding off on converting to a flatscreen.
     
  16. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Wow, I stand corrected! Thanks for the link to energy star models. Man, there's a ton of converter boxes (maybe 3 out of 4) that are not energy star rated (or at least don't advertise it) ... so much so, that I presumed all of 'em were. Evidently not, according to the link:

    If all DTA converter boxes sold in the U.S. met the ENERGY STAR specification, over the lifetime of the products Americans could save approximately 13 billion kWh and $1 billion in energy costs — reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking more than 1 million cars off the road.

    You'd think the Fed's would require energy star compliance. The energy star listed models are power misers, but the reviews run from ok, to "meh".

    GE 22730 digital converter box TV/HDTV Tuners & Receiver reviews - CNET Reviews

    Apex DT250 TV/HDTV Tuners & Receiver reviews - CNET Reviews

    Consumer Reports doesn't seem to factor in how much power that converter boxes even use ... as though it's a non-issue:

    Digital TV converter boxes: First Look

    Digital TV converter boxes, recommendations and notes

    Some DTV boxes rate their power consumption in amps (ie; .6 amp for the 12v box & .3 amp for the 120v to 12v power adapter) making a power usage determination more complex ... that's what ... 43 watts in some cases? not sure. My head is spinning.
     
  17. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    There are some international (?) and Energy Star standards for appliances in general that require 1W or less standby consumption in order for them to be rated as energy efficient as best I can recall. I can't tell you where I read this, but I came across it a few times as secondary comments in articles.

    We (in the U.S. at least) are way behind in taking the little load wasters seriously. And this really must be done at a regulatory level. There is simply no reason to allow systematic waste in most cases. Where there is, there should be exceptions...but a manufacturer should have to apply for the exception.

    One of the best things we could do is to require all electronic devices to list the sleep/off energy usage and the cost/year of that, whether or not they are Energy Star. It's like pulling teeth finding this information at present. I've had to contact manufacturers to get it. By the same token, normal operating power should also be listed...TV's are the first things that come to mind in this regard. And again, some annual factor for operating hours should be applied, and the cost reported.

    I suspect that there are a number of customers like us who would read such labels and that it would have an impact on many of our purchases, whether or not actual reductions were mandated. An ideal efficient free market is a transparent one--something that many U.S. manufacturers and citizens have forgotten if the last two recessions are any indication. Give the customer better information about their choices and they on average will make better decisions.
     
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