CES 2011: Freescale Watt Saver

AC adapters left plugged in but not charging a device? That’s just pure, unmitigated waste, the most evil form of vampire power in existence. And that’s what Freescale Semiconductor said it’s ready to vanquish.

The company announced a new system, called Watt Saver, that automatically eliminates no-load power consumption for AC adaptors. The company is targeting Watt Saver for the usual suspects – chargers for battery-powered consumer devices like cell phones, tablets, eReaders and MP3 players – as well as for higher-powered battery-operated devices like laptop computers and netbooks.

Freescale Watt Saver

image via Freescale

According to Freescale, they accomplished this neat energy-saving feat using “patent-pending hardware and software implementations.” The announcement of the system, timed to the Consumer Electronics Show, didn’t include an estimate of how much integrating Watt Saver into chargers might increase the cost of the devices. Presumably the amount would have to be minimal to draw interest, since vampire power, while a huge draw in the aggregate, hardly represents a big financial burden for individuals.

“With approximately four billion users of rechargeable cell phones, the annual amount of vampire energy lost by AC adaptor chargers totals more than $1 billion of wasted electricity,” said Jeff Bock, director of product marketing for Freescale’s Industrial and Multi-market segment. By our calculation, that works out to 25 cents apiece. But as Bock said, that wasted electricity adds up to “1,200 megawatts of power, which is about the size of a modern nuclear plant.”

And, by the way: Freescale said it will donate 1 percent of all Watt Saver revenue to a “global green ecology nonprofit organization.”

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Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.