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EU mandates standby modes for networked devices
Thursday 01 January 2015 11:06:30 by Andrew Ferguson

New regulations from the EU have sneaked into effect on the first day of 2015, with automatic standby modes mandated for networked devices and the promise of saving £32 per year due to this measure.

  • Energy labels for online sales:Retailers will be required to show energy labels when selling products online. Up until now, retailers only displayed the energy efficiency class of a product online, such as 'energy class A', but not the other classes on the label (e.g. A+, A++, B or C) making it difficult for consumers to compare products. This will now become clearer.
  • Automatic standby for networked devices: New networked equipment (such as modems, receivers/decoders, connected televisions, printers, etc.) will have to offer a function that switches the equipment into a low power standby mode if no main task is performed.

The projected savings look very high when you consider that the average modem/router uses just 12 Watts when running flat out, but if the cost savings from low power modes for printers and connected televisions are factored in then the savings will be larger. Of course the old fashioned surprisingly digital method of switching a device off rather than leaving it on gives the biggest savings.

Most xDSL connection methods include a power saving mode already, but other options like power reduction when idle for Wi-Fi chips has been a main suspect for the odd behaviour of some Wi-Fi devices in the last few years.

Saving a watt here or there does seem like overkill, but with the increasing number of devices we all leave switched on 24/7 this does add up. While many people do shop for the more efficient dishwashers and washing machines we doubt many people will be using an energy label to pick their broadband router.

Comments

Posted by keith969 about 1 year ago
Having extensively measured my energy usage using a wireless monitor (Owl)I can say that an average modem/router (a BT Home Hub4) uses less power than my TV/DVD on standby. So it's not worth turning it off if I go away for a week. Far more power is used by the fridge/freezer. And then if you live in the average family home that runs a dishwasher, washing machine, tumble drier, electric oven etc once or more times a day then everything is just noise compared to them.

Just changing all your GU10 50W spotlights to modern 5W LED spotlights will make far more difference.
Posted by otester about 1 year ago
So I'll still be able to disable it?
Posted by joe_pineapples about 1 year ago
Being saying this for years. No its not much for each individual household, but times that by over 21 million, and that's a lot of juice.
Posted by Michael_Chare about 1 year ago
I was quite impressed with my Dell colour laser printer which physically turns itself off if left unused for several hours. I have to press the rocker switch to get it to work again. My NAS goes to sleep at night, but I can't see that I would ever want to power my ADSL modem/router off, or even stop the Wifi.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
For DSL modems and wifi I think they should drop into a minimal activity mode rather than disconnecting.

http://www.google.com/patents/US20050213405
Posted by nbkay about 1 year ago
I was just reading about this on BBC news and it seems to be the most utterly ridiculous thing...It'd be nice having a TV switch off in the middle of a 3 hour long movie since it's not being used.
Also with regards to modems/routers, if you come and go to it multiple times in a day...and it disconnects when it's not in use and then reconnects, that'd firstly annoy the users who just want to look at a device and be online and secondly potentially trigger DLM on DSL connections?
Posted by jrawle about 1 year ago
"...multiple times in a day... annoy the users who just want to ... be online"

A bit like the lights in your home, then. How annoying that they are not all on all of the time, and you have to press a switch when you need them.

We all have to take some responsibility for saving energy, and not just expect everything to be set up for our absolute convenience whatever the cost. It's unacceptable for the likes of BT to tell us to leave hubs on 24/7. If it's an issue, they need to change their systems to accommodate hubs that are switched off regularly.
Posted by adslmax about 1 year ago
Sleeping mode on VDSL2 modem will cause DLM
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@adslmax Not if the VDSL2 is switched to a low power mode the DSLAM understands.
Posted by brusuth about 1 year ago
A low power mode is likely all ports off, usb power off and wifi off as they are the big drains. It may not drop the connection, if there had been an issue companies like BT / OR would have kicked up a stink.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
"A bit like the lights in your home, then. How annoying that they are not all on all of the time, and you have to press a switch when you need them."

My lights don't take 20 seconds to come on. Even CFLs don't take more than a couple of seconds to come good.
Posted by alexatkinuk about 1 year ago
I really do not see how this can EVER work on modems/routers. Traffic from the WAN will keep it awake.

Now perhaps it can drop in and out of power saving mode in nanoseconds, but that would cause latency fluctations, an absolute nightmare for onling gaming.

As for WiFi, power saving mode is the biggest cause of issues in my experience and almost always has to be disabled on something for stability, especially phones.

Newer routers already come with power saving ethernet and again this has caused huge compatibility problems for some people.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Of course it can work for modems/routers ... if it is designed into the standards properly.

And it *is* being designed into the working of FTTdp - where the node needs to be reverse powered from the homes ... yet needs to be able to cope when each home's modem (and power source) could be interrupted at any time. Low power modes and discontinuous transmission are being built into the standard.
Posted by michaels_perry about 1 year ago
As usual this is all based on a false premis. They have been trying to tell us that TV sets in Standby used 27 Watts, they never have! The old CRT sets with ultrasonic remotes (1970's era) that I used to repair used under 8 watts in standby. A modern LCD/LED st uses about 0.3 Watts in standby.
Disconnecting a modem will cause renegotiation of the connection when it starts up and the way BT Internet is set it will eventually assume there is a fault and slow everything to the minimum.
The saving per household will be pence, not pounds.
Posted by dragon1945 about 1 year ago
Try switching your Sky Box off at the plug like I did whilst away at Xmas. It took 15 minutes to sort itself out . Very helpful when you want to catch the news.
Posted by bsg017 about 1 year ago
How will this affect BT customers like myself to use BTFon with the co-operation of other BT customers?
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
Sky boxes are nasty things though (I have one so I'm not knocking the service). Very little difference between 'on' and 'standby' - I think it drops from 25 to 20 watts.

Meanwhile my Humax Freesat box (which has a better EPG) drops down to fractions of a watt in standby and yet supports Accurate Record (stop/stop by broadcast signal) which Sky doesn't.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
Newer Sky boxes do have a 'deep sleep' mode. It can be activated by holding down the power button for several seconds. Trouble is this actually switches the box off and it won't even respond to the remote let alone wake up to make a recording.

The Humax is far better in that respect. Quite capable of waking up from deep sleep to make a recording.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
Anyway if you read the EU document it doesn't say that routers have to switch off. It only says:

"will have to offer a function that switches the equipment into a low power standby mode if no main task is performed."

That's later defined as 6w this year, 3w by 2017.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
If they really meant that they were to switch off and do nothing at all they'd have set the bar lower than that. There's a lot you can do with 3w of power so I think they expecting reduced throughput and lower latency rather than a disconnect.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
Ah. A bit more info. There's an old document (http://www.topten.eu/uploads/File/STANDBY%20Topten%20EU%20policy%20recommendations%20Feb%2013.pdf) that calls out routers as a special case.

"(i.e. router,
network switch, hub, modem, wiKfi access points, VoIP phones and video phones), this standby mode
shall be limited to 12W by January 2015 and 8W by January 2017"
Posted by joe_pineapples about 1 year ago
Posted by dragon1945 about 3 hours ago
Try switching your Sky Box off at the plug like I did whilst away at Xmas. It took 15 minutes to sort itself out . Very helpful when you want to catch the news."

We have and do every night unless there's something to record through the night. Takes a few minutes to be usable again from cold. Never had any problems (Sky+ HD 890).

Posted by madreddog about 1 year ago
I remember, not so long back, some realist in the climate change/energy conservation world stating that if the UK were to adopt all the possible economy measures available, we would still only reduce global warming/carbon-footprints etc. by around 2%. Makes you wonder whether we're all just p***ing into the wind doesn't it?
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
My Sky box is on a timer. It has the power to it cut at 3:10am and during the week doesn't get it back until 3pm. I think it runs all the way through Saturday night/sunday morning in case I need to record an F1 race. The rest of my AV equipment is on a different timer and gets its power cut for longer.

The only thing not on a timer is the Humax. It's all transparent to me as everything is powered up ready when I need it.

I don't do it to 'protect' the environment though. I just hate wastage on general principals.
Posted by JohnEdwards about 1 year ago
And bear in mind that Humax (at least) requires the box to be left in standby overnight in order to receive on-air updates.
Posted by ramseyjoseph about 1 year ago
I also monitored my energy consumption over 6 years and plotted charts. As I improved my home insulation and changed to low energy bulbs and consciously "turned off the lights", I have achieved a saving of 40% on gas consumption and 41% on electricity.
In the process I developed a state of mind to save on energy in whatever I do and I believe this is more effective than replacing existing devices by new ones that might save a few watts a day.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
<i>And bear in mind that Humax (at least) requires the box to be left in standby overnight in order to receive on-air updates.</i>

Yeah but my model can do all that from its super sleep mode. I think it uses a simple timer that brings it up to standby as when/needed. A very sensible design.
Posted by ianeiloart about 1 year ago
"wMakes you wonder whether we're all just p***ing into the wind doesn't it?"

No. The 2% figure is, our maximum impact on global emissions, rather than the maximum impact on UK emissions. In fact, the figure is more like 0.5%, or one third of UK emissions.

In this instance, it's an EU regulation. The EU is responsible for about 10% of global emissions: a figure that's reducing in absolute and relative terms. Energy savings in the EU could contribute to a 3% reduction in global emissions.

But this regulation will have wider implications: by changing devices marketed worldwide.
Posted by Hubz about 1 year ago
"we doubt many people will be using an energy label to pick their broadband router"

Not sure that is the point of it. I think the real savings will come from the big boys who post out thousands of routers (Sky, TT,BT,VM etc.) every year.
Posted by chrysalis about 1 year ago
Tech already exists for what is effectively an idle mode on xDSL, but BT are so slow to adapt to new technologies.
Posted by michaels_perry about 1 year ago
The Sky HD+ box drops to 0.8W in standby mode. Not the 20W mentioned by AndrueC. My brother was a electronics engineering team leader for the company that designed those boxes for Sky and he tells me the requirements was for less than 1W in the standby mode and less than 0.3W in the 'Off' mode while still plugged in at the mains with that switched on. Operation mode take around 24.6W when not recording.
There is far too much misinformation being given out, listen to electronics engineers for a change and get it right.
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