Earth Notes: On the LIME Energy Saving Plug: Review
VERDICT: it works, so get something similar to help turn stuff off!
On a "hot deals" Web site in December 2010 we found a description of this free energy-saving gadget and signed up; it arrived early January 2011.
Before getting or deploying one of these energy-saving plugs, consider measuring what all your plug-in gadgets and appliances use with some kind of power meter, since although a common application for such a plug is the TV/stereo, etc, you may find that some of your kitchen appliances (eg microwave, toaster) can be handily zapped when not in use, eg those with displays and unused clocks.
Also, there is not much point in using this where either your appliance uses much less than one Watt (1W) on standby or you already turn it off at the wall. (The instruction leaflet says: "standby power input < 0.5watts".)
Note the basic rule of thumb in 2011 in the UK is that for every unnecessary 1 Watt of consumption left on for a year you will pay an extra £1 on your bill. For us, even if we turned our TV off, the rest of the DVD/cable/etc stuff would probably rack up £20 or so per year (and thus about 100kg of CO2). (More than the net emissions of each of us in this house circa 2010: ~60kgCO22.)
The instructions are slightly confusing, but simply enough, after switching this on at the wall (or after a power cut), or after pressing the reset button on the front, all the appliances plugged into it will be off and the plug will be ready to learn the remote control command to operate it.
The plug has what looks like an alien eye on a wire to watch for your remote; put this somewhere where you can easily activate it.
Then pick one of your infrared (IR) remote controls (ie tried those for our cable-TV box and our DVD player) and pick a button to switch the plug on and off with. Because we don't want our DVD and cable TV box out of standby at the same time it's best not to use the power button of either of them, but another unused button (most controls have lots), eg I picked the 'subtitles' button on the DVD remote control.
When the LIME plug is waiting to be reprogrammed (with its indicator light slowly flashing) point your control at it and press your selected button. The indicator will then flash quickly and go off.
You can then turn on the appliances/gadgets plugged into with with another press and after at least a 60-second wait, once more to turn them off.
The 60s delay before turning everything off probably helps avoid damage, and allows a graceful shutdown for any gadget whose 'off' command you use!
The plug starts up with the socket off when powered up, ie when just plugged in or after a power cut. I had wondered if this was a good idea, eg would it make it hard to get at to reprogram after such a cut, but because it comes on immediately waiting to be reprogrammed, it's potentially only one extra button push to turn everything on. (It's also kind to the grid and appliances not to come on until power is stable, for example, or if there were a glitch while you were out.)
I had a little more difficulty setting the LIME plug up with one of the controls than the other, but that might simply be operator error!
Setting this up for our TV/DVD/etc already on one trailing 4-way trailing socket took all of about 5 minutes (having previously practised with the controls), with the sensor 'eye' temporaily lashed up (not using the sticky pad) hopefully out of the way of the youngest pair of hands in the house. The sensor still works tucked away beside the TV, not in immediate sight.
It seemed reliable after just a few days' use, even when our daughter turned everything off at the wall in confusion, and it only needed in effect the one extra push of the button to reprogram as suggested above.
After a month or so we felt that it worked reliably, and is good in situations such as ours where the wall switch is not easily accessible. A simple well-designed product, bravo!
Update 2017/08/26: still going strong after seven years!
PRODUCT RECALL NOTICE - LIME energy saving plug (Model ES1017)
We have found a potential safety problem with a batch of the LIME Energy Saving Plugs, Model Number ES1017, which can be identified via the label on the back of the plug.
The problem was identified following feedback from a very small number of customers who had experienced some problems with the individual pins of the plug that either fell out or remained in the socket when unplugged.
The batch of affected plugs relate to the 'FLUSH' campaign that ran from mid November to 6th December. You will not have received a letter from us if your plug was ordered through a different promotion because this plug was supplied from a different batch and is not being recalled.
If you have a plug from the above batch, then we recommend that you stop using the plug immediately and turn off the wall socket power switch before removing it.
All customers who registered to receive one of the plugs via the above promotion recently received a letter from us and will shortly be receiving a replacement plug of a different model. If you had a plug passed onto you by someone else, then we have advised the registered recipient of the plug to pass on the recall notice.
If you require further clarification, please contact our customer service team on 0844 879 5160, or email us on email@example.com
(Our plug was from a different batch.)