SUN REAL Renewable Energy Systems

Phantom Loads: When is OFF still ON?

We recently saw a media release from Energy Victoria about the "phantom load" that uses power even when you think it is turned off. In a house powered from the grid these phantom loads can add up to $150 a year to the energy costs and in a house powered by renewable sources they can add up to a considerable drain on the batteries.

Across Victoria the energy used by these phantom loads is equivalent to the power generated each year by the Newport Power Station and contribute as much as 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere each year. In the USA a study revealed that the electricity used by the stand-by feature of all TV's in the US drained as much energy as the output of a Chernobyl sized nuclear power plant. Good one guys!

Common phantom loads include answering machines, battery chargers, cordless phones and clock radios as well as remote controlled appliances such as televisions, VCR's and stereos. Watch out as well for the clock on the microwave, mains powered smoke detectors, electronic doorbells and security systems.

In home power systems phantom loads can keep inverters switched on and running at very low efficiency. The best idea is to switch such appliances off at the wall when they are not in use or set your inverters standby threshold high enough so it will not be turned on by the phantom loads.