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Ultimate Low Power Module

Replaces every wall wart in the area, all at once
  [vote for,

They currently make multi-voltage wall warts, which let you select the output voltage, so that one of these things can be used to replace any old broken wall wart you might happen to have. These replacement wall warts also tend to come with "generic" jacks, so that you can adapt its end-fitting to correctly plug into the gadget that had the dead wart.

Let's take this a step further, and make a multi-voltage power box that provides ALL of those voltages at the same time! This comparatively large box will sit on the floor under an ordinary power outlet, and has an ordinary power cord that plugs into the outlet.

The box has no other built-in/attached wires, but it is covered with holes for other wires to be plugged into it, of all the appropriate sizes/shapes. Some of those holes are labelled "3v" and some are labelled "6v" and so on. It may be OK if each/every hole had a maximum current rating of 2 amperes, which would at least be one sort of simplicity. A few of the higher-voltage holes may deserve a higher current rating. I suppose it depends on what the extremes are, of ordinary wall warts. Anyway, a 2-amp limit is also a safety thing, for little kids plugging coat-hangers into the holes. Miniature circuit-breaker protection perhaps could be included, too.

Any gadget that would normally come with a wall wart now only needs to come with an appropriate cord, with identical jacks on each end. One jack is plugged into the gadget, and the other is plugged into this Ultimate Low Power Module. Accidently plugging into a wrong-voltage hole is prevented by the different sizes of holes. So, wherever you happen to have a concentration of electronic equipment, including a tangle of multi-outlet strips full of wall warts, all you need is one of these.

Vernon, Nov 11 2003

Wall wart http://encyclobeami...s/_pix/wallwart.gif
[Worldgineer, Oct 04 2004]

Standard DC powerports http://www.halfbake...d_20DC_20powerports
[krelnik, Oct 04 2004]


       As long as you're going to pay for one of these, you might as well make it electronic. They waste much less energy and are quite a bit smaller vs. the magnetic converters.
Worldgineer, Nov 11 2003

       Mr Burns, no objection.   

       Worlgineer, I think it remains true that magnetic power transforming would be most efficient at converting 120 or 240 volts down to 12 or so. Certainly they still have transformers inside those switching power supplies in computers. But after that, you may be correct about using electronic converters to get all the other voltages. But I described a largish box not so much because of the power demands, but because of all the power connectors. You can't FIT 50 low-voltage power outlets in an ordinary-sized wall wart!
Vernon, Nov 11 2003

       I think you'll find that computer power supplies use magnetic transformers because they are cheap, not because they are efficient. Laptops use the electronic version because they are light and don't require a fan to blow away all the wasted heat.   

       I don't think it's a necessary part of your idea, but just mentioned it because the amount of energy wasted by wall warts is huge (small amount of power, but uses it the entire time it's plugged in) and this centrallized wall wart would be a great application for electronic transformers.   

       Speaking of computers, might it be useful to directly build this device into one?
Worldgineer, Nov 11 2003

       Yes, I know that transformers are always "on" when plugged in. Their self-inductive property chokes what otherwise looks like an electric short, down to a trickle. Only when a load is attached to the other side of the transformer do relatively larger amounts of current flow. This is also when a transformer starts to get hot, instead of merely being warmed from the trickle.   

       Anyway, I never really thought much about laptop power supplies, but am sure an even more important reason why they use electronic power conversion is because silicon weighs a lot less than iron....
Vernon, Nov 11 2003

       What's a wall wart? Sorry, I'm not very technical
Mistress Bling, Nov 11 2003

       [Vern] Right, but my point was only that electronic is more efficient. I had an old laptop with a magnetic transformer - the thing could nearly burn you after being on for a few hours.   

       Anyway, back to your idea. +
Worldgineer, Nov 11 2003

       Mistress Bling, many portable electronic gadgets, CD players for example, come with an accessory that lets you plug it into the wall, instead of using batteries. Those accessories are generally palm-sized and cubical, and when plugged in look like bumps on a wall -- warts, in other words. -- And that's a perfect link, Worldgineer! Thanks!
Vernon, Nov 11 2003

       Ah, I getcha. Have read through it properly now. +
Mistress Bling, Nov 11 2003

       //Speaking of computers, might it be useful to directly build this device into one?//
Yes, we've discussed that before, see the linked idea as well as the links within it.
krelnik, Nov 11 2003

       krelnik, I think I should disagree about using computer power supplies for lots of other peripherals. I've seen too many of those power supplies fail, just trying to keep up with the stuff inside the computer! So, consider the box suggested here: if each wall wart it replaces is, on the average, rated at 10watts, and you plug 10 things into this box, then it has to handle only 100watts, which is a pretty hot light bulb. Perhaps the Ultimate Low Power Module will require a fan (a 120volt fan!!!) -- but try adding an extra 100 watts of load to your computer power supply, and it will die in short order.
Vernon, Nov 12 2003

       "silicon weighs a lot less than iron" - more to the point, silicon is cheaper than iron.   

       The one thing that's wrong with those replacement wall warts (and hence this idea, sadly) is that there are two opposing standards for the polarity of low voltage power jacks. Positive on the hole in the middle, or positive on the outside sleeve. Replacement warts get around this by allowing you to switch the polarity to match your appliance; thus giving you a 50% chance of destroying it if you don't understand electricity and just guess. A 2 Amp current rating would just make a bigger bang, I guess.   

       Wall wart roulette, anybody?
English Bob, Nov 12 2003

       //try adding an extra 100 watts of load to your computer power supply//
True enough for average power supplies, but there are 'heavy duty' versions available that could handle the load.
krelnik, Nov 12 2003

       True enough Krelnik, but remember that most machines are not built for power users today. If you go with the LCD idea of production, most computers would never be able to handle this built in.
Actually, outside of computers I can see applications for something like this for sound reinforcement systems. Seems like today half the new gear has internal power supply and IEC cords and the other half has wall warts. Runnig a rack with 15 or twenty items in it and you half to use a lot of power strips to cover all those warts.
soundman, Nov 12 2003

       English Bob, thanks, I did not think about the polarity thing. Well, the holes for plugging stuff in could perhaps simply be grouped, first by voltage, then by polarity. Or there could be a switch next to each hole, that lets the user select the polarity. Naturally, a big warning label is also needed, to encourage people to see what their gadget has to say about what polarity it needs.   

       For those still arguing about silicon vs. iron, you might note that NEITHER is mentioned in the main Idea. The important thing was to consolidate wall warts, and not worry too much about the method of consolidation.
Vernon, Nov 12 2003

       I like this. Bun. And particularly if we can make a 1u rackmount version (1.75" x 17" + ears). In almost every small office there's a need to put a couple of servers, a router, switch etc... Normally these can be rackmounted, but there's inevitably 2 or 3 smaller bits of kit which sit on shelves. Inevitably these have warts, and finding outlets on the UPS or on a power strip to fit these is a real pain. Not to mention having to physically tie the wart to the power strip with some cable ties to stop them falling out when the ground shakes (California).   

       This would go for some of the more advanced home entertainment systems too.
phlogiston, Nov 26 2003

       My dad just told me about one of these he saw in a store a few days ago. Onliest thing is, he said that one only had one or two 'holes'. It had, however, some sort of dial with which one could adjust the output from about 3 volts continuously up to 12 or 24 (not sure which).
galukalock, Nov 26 2003

       galukalock, you are merely describing the currently existing multi-voltage wall wart, that this Idea uses as a starting point.
Vernon, Nov 26 2003


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