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IDC has developed a Zigbee-based printed circuit board (PCB) that slots into Eco2 power blocks manufactured by CMD to provide energy savings in general offices.

With this system, savings of up to 60 per cent per year (equating to GBP80 per year per desk) are achievable, simply by automatically powering down PCs and non-essential equipment when not in use.

The Eco2 power block is said to be the ideal product to reduce the carbon footprint of energy-intensive offices such as call centres, stock dealing floors, foreign exchanges, banking centres and government facilities.

It is simple to use, integrating a single primary power-sensitive socket and either five or three secondary sockets (depending upon the socket unit chosen).

The primary (red) socket is designed to accommodate the user’s PC, with secondary sockets for other functions such as printers, monitors and scanners.

The primary one is programmed to switch off the power to the secondary sockets when its own power value drops below the normal (in-use) PC power level.

This value can be set remotely over IDC’s Zigbee wireless network, which also includes a wireless gateway and a hosted server, in addition to the bespoke OEM PCB.

The PCB itself comprises a relay (for switching off mains power), two shunts and a metering chip, which measure the power consumed by the primary red socket and the total power taken by all sockets.

The PCB also measures amps, volts and power-factor readings, all of which can be logged in the company’s hosted server by the wireless gateway.

This facility enables central analysis of the power that is being consumed by large numbers of power blocks, enabling efficiency comparisons and power savings to be calculated.

Kevin Buckley, managing director of IDC, said: ‘With all the focus on energy saving in industry, people have forgotten about the vast amounts of energy that are being wasted in offices by leaving equipment on when it is not being used.

‘Zigbee wireless technology is the ideal tool to rectify this situation.

‘One of the technology’s first uses was in home automation, providing two-way communications that enabled building operators to monitor and keep track of their utilities usage and then feed this data to a computer system for data analysis.

‘In addition, Zigbee offers the additional advantage that it can be incorporated into small, inexpensive chips that consume little power – making it easy to integrate into the Eco2 power blocks,’ he added.

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