EU policy on stand by power consumption for electrical equipment

My exploration of European Union (EU) policy on computer energy consumption got off to a disappointing start last week. This week, I have discovered the EU Ecodesign concept, and have delved into the regulations relating to stand by power consumption for electrical items.

Building detail, Strasbourg

Last week, I set out to learn what EU policies were in place on computer energy consumption. I was disappointed when all I found was the EU Energy Star programme.

This week, I decided to escape the confines of the Europa pages, and see what Google could turn up for me. I ultimately ended up back on the Europa web site, but with far more interesting results.

I discovered the EU Ecodesign concept. Ecodesign seems to be a name the EU has applied to a collection of initiatives and legislation that aim to reduce the energy consumption and environmental impact of a range of products.

The overall framework for the Ecodesign principles was established by EU Directive 2005/32/EC. While the directive provides a foundation for Ecodesign, the details of how Ecodesign applies to specific products are contained in separate regulations.

I decided to look at Regulation 1275/2008 which sets out the requirements for stand by mode and off mode of household electrical and electronic equipment. The list of equipment it applies to covers most of the things you have plugged in to power sockets in your home, including computers.

The regulation sets limits for the energy consumed by equipment when it is in stand by mode and off mode. As far as I can tell, the limits apply to equipment that is sold in the EU. The requirements will be phased in over 4 years, starting in December 2008.

Here is a summary of the requirements.

1 year after the regulation is in force (December 2009):

  • Power consumption in off mode must be 1 Watt or less;
  • Power consumption in stand by mode which allows reactivation must be 1 Watt or less;
  • Power consumption in stand by mode which allows reactivation and displays information (such as a clock) must be 2 Watts or less.

4 years after the regulation is in force (December 2012):

  • Power consumption in off mode must be 0.5 Watts or less;
  • Power consumption in stand by mode which allows reactivation must be 0.5 Watts or less;
  • Power consumption in stand by mode which allows reactivation and displays information (such as a clock) must be 1 Watt or less.

The regulation also provides that equipment that is connected to mains power must have a stand by or off mode, and must also have a power management function which automatically switches the device into stand by mode or off mode when it is not being actively used.

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Published by Graham Miln on