By Michael Gray, Tecca
You probably have a handful of devices around the house that need to be charged up. Smartphones, tablets, and mobile video game systems all have internal batteries that can last a while, but they inevitably still need to get plugged in. The problem is that even when these devices finish recharging, their cords can still drain a trickle of power from the outlet, even if you don’t have the gadget plugged into the other end. The wasted electricity isn’t huge, but when you consider how that adds up across a half-dozen gadgets, the leak becomes a much bigger deal.
The Belkin Conserve Valet stems that trickle of lost power and even helps you keep all those wires organized. The Valet is essentially a USB charging station. Plug the Valet into the wall, then plug up to four devices into the Valet and press a button to start charging. After four hours, the Valet shuts off the flow of power from the wall. It’s a fairly simple idea that will slowly save you money on your electricity bill each month.
The Valet is easy to use. The center of the station is open and hollow to let you wrap your power cord around the interior pillar, vastly reducing the amount of clutter on your countertop. Having a single, centralized location to recharge your devices is a huge benefit all on its own, since one outlet can be used to recharge four different gadgets.
The Valet works as advertised, shutting off the slow power waste that happens when you leave charging cords plugging into the wall. Four hours is sufficient for most mobile devices to recharge, so you’ll only rarely need to extend the recharging timer. Since the Valet knows when you plug in a new device, it automatically extend the timer for each new gadget. As long as you can remember to press the button to start the charging process, most devices will have plenty of time during a charging cycle to get fully juiced up. After the charging cycle is finished, the Valet severs the slow electricity draw from your outlet.
The first challenge with the Valet revolves around the mobile nature of devices you use with it. If you’re going to be out of the house for a while and want to bring only one power cord along for the ride, you better hope it’s not tangled inside the station. The Valet keeps all those cords from getting in a jumple at your desk, but you still have to untangle each cord from the others inside it. The best way to mitigate this problem is to have an extra power cord on hand for your mobile devices.
The second and bigger issue with the Valet is the way the black surface of the Valet gathers dust and pet hair. The top of the Valet is a tactile, almost suede-like surface. This tacky surface helps ensure your smartphone won’t slide off while it’s charging — however, it also seems to pick up every speck of dust and passing pet hair like a magnet. Ours had to be wiped down with a microfiber cloth nearly daily. For folks who don’t like to dust or deal with pet hair congregating near electronics, the Valet will prove to be a pain in the neck.
Should you get it?
The Valet costs about $40, a significant factor when deciding whether or not you should buy one. In order to see money savings, you need to be the type of electronics owner who leaves your mobile devices plugged in a lot even when they’re not in use, or you need to leave your charging cords plugged into the wall a lot. If you don’t do either of those things, you might never see any real savings from the Valet. Even with the most wasteful charging habits, it’s a long time before the Valet pays for itself. Don’t buy the Valet if you’re just trying to save money.
If you want a USB charging station, though, the Valet is a great bet. In this case, the Valet is a handy, convenient charging station, and the power savings is an added value. Since the Valet can handle four different devices at one time, it’s really a great tool for reducing clutter and organizing your cables — and it just happens to save electricity on the side.