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The Smart Strip® Quick Help Guide

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Introduction

What Is The Smart Strip®?

The Smart Strip reduces electrical waste by disconnecting power completely to multiple devices when a single device is turned OFF. This stops all power supplied to the "Automatically Switched" devices so they cannot draw the current they would normally be consuming when they are in their OFF state.
The Smart Strip has a single blue "Control Outlet" that detects the change in power consumption of the device plugged into it so that when that device is turned ON or OFF, the Smart Strip senses this and switches the "Automatically Switched Outlets" ON or OFF with the 'Control' device. All of the Smart Strips have "Always On Outlets" that do not switch OFF unless you physically switch the Smart Strip OFF.
When a PC is plugged into the blue "Control Outlet" and goes into sleep or hibernate mode, the "Automatically Switched Outlets" are disconnected from power while the "Constantly Hot Outlets" stay ON. This is particularly useful with PCs since you can cut the power to monitors, printers, and other peripherals after a period of inactivity on the PC.  Even if you have to walk away for a bit, you're not wasting electricity to keep devices powered as they wait for your return. Also, this stops any waste and, prevents accidentally forgetting to turn monitors and such OFF when you shut down your computer.
The Smart Strip may be used with a number of devices in a number of scenarios. It is a first rate surge protector with extra auto-switching functionality. IMPORTANT: There are a number of low-energy devices that exhibit little or no change in the amount of current they draw when turned ON or OFF, and as such are incapable of triggering the "Automatically Switched Outlets".

How Can I Get More Help?

Continue reading, use the "Contact Us" link on the menu above, or click here.
You can find our Manuals here, and Images here.

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Energy Savings

Is It OK to Shut OFF My Computer Peripherals?

Yes, when any electronic device is left on 24/7, the heat inside the components is constant providing no chance to cool down. Heat build-up is the enemy of electronics and can eventually weaken the components and cause them to fail. Devices today are designed to be turned OFF and/or go into a low power sleep mode without shortening their life span.

How Does The Smart Strip® Save Energy?

The Smart Strip saves energy by electronically unplugging all of the devices that are plugged into the "Automatically Switched Outlets" when the device plugged into the "Control Outlet" is turned OFF. This stops them from drawing any current without the need for you to physically turn them OFF or unplug them. Some devices still draw an idle current even when turned OFF, therefore either using the Smart Strip or unplugging them is the only way to stop them from wasting power; and the Smart Strip does it automatically!

How Much Energy Does The Smart Strip® Save?

The short answer is that it saves about $2-3/month on the median average per US household (based on study data from the University of California, Berkeley and 8 other universities). Depending on your local utility rate and the type of connected devices, it can save less, or much more. We estimate the average savings to be about $30/year.  The earliest Smart Strips were sold in 2002, so they have paid for themselves and saved their owners a considerable amount of money.

Will I See a Difference on My Electric Bill?

A normal electric bill varies by at least $20 month to month. The average savings that the Smart Strip will generate varies based upon how many Smart Strips are in use and how many devices are connected to the Smart Strips. The actual savings can be measured using a Kill A Watt meter, available on-line.  Generally, the Smart Strip will pay for itself in about one year.

I Have Balanced Billing; Will The Smart Strip® Help Me Save Money?

Yes, every few months the utility company calculates your average usage and the energy saved by the Smart Strip will become part of that new calculation automatically.

Where Can I Use My Smart Strip® to Save Energy?

Devices that use a "soft power switch", or have no power switch, draw idle current. If the device has a small easy touch ON/touch OFF switch, it has a pilot power supply that draws power 24/7 to power the "Power" button. Devices that use a "hard power switch" do not draw idle current and therefore use zero energy when OFF. The following list has examples of "hard power switches":

  1. It has one button for ON and a separate button for OFF.
  2. If you push the power button to turn the device ON and it stays depressed until you push it again to turn the device OFF.
  3. The power switch has 2 positions (one for ON & one for OFF)
Product Saves Energy?
Air conditioner
No
Battery charger
Yes
Computer peripherals
Yes
Home Entertainment
Yes
Hair Dryer, curling iron
No
Kitchen Appliance
No
Lamps
No
Shop equipment
No
Space heater
No
Washer, Dryer
No

The Smart Strip can be used even in places that it does not save energy. For example, plug your shop tool, like a sander, into the control outlet and your shop-vac into the switched outlets. Every time you turn on your sander, the vacuum turns on and off with the sander.

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Installation

Installing The Smart Strip® on a Computer

A typical computer configuration is as follows:

  1. Plug your computer into the control outlet.
  2. Plug your Router, pencil sharpener, portable phone or lamp into the constant hot outlets. Note: If you rarely use your computer or you only have one computer in the house, you can plug the Router into the switched outlets to save more energy.
  3. Plug all of your remaining computer peripherals into the switched outlets.
  4. Turn on your computer and enable the sleep mode under the power options (Windows) or energy saver (Apple) control panel. Set it for a 1/2 hour or any time that you like (we recommend 5-15 minutes to achieve the greatest possible savings).

When the computer is turned ON, or awakened from Sleep mode, the Smart Strip should supply power to the 'Automatically Switched' devices and the opposite should happen when the computer is turned OFF or it goes into sleep mode. If the switched outlets do not turn ON or OFF properly check How To Adjust The Sensitivity Adjustment Dial for those models with sensitivity adjustment feature.  Note: Some Smart Strips® automatically adjust to various current loads and do not have this sensitivity feature.

Using The Smart Strip® with an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

There are 2 different ways to setup the Smart Strip to work with your UPS.

  1. If your UPS can power your entire computer system, plug the UPS into the wall and the Smart Strip into the UPS. Then follow the instructions above for Installing The Smart Strip On A Computer.
  2. If your UPS can only support your computer and monitor (RECOMMENDED), plug the Smart Strip into the wall and plug the UPS into the control outlet. Plug the computer and monitor into the UPS. Then follow step 2, 3 and 4 under Installing The Smart Strip On A Computer.

Installing The Smart Strip® on a TV

A typical configuration for a TV/home theatre system is as follows:

  1. Plug your TV into the "Control Outlet".
  2. Plug your Cable/Satellite Receiver or DVR into the "Always On Outlets".
  3. Plug all of your remaining home entertainment equipment such as your DVR, DVD, SOUND BAR, etc, into the "Automatically Switched Outlets".
  4. Turn ON your TV to test the Smart Strip. If the switched outlets do not turn ON or OFF properly check How To Adjust The Sensitivity Adjustment Dial?

Note: If you still use a VCR or DVD Recorder to record TV/Movies, then plug the VCR/DVD into the "Always On Outlets" (see below).

Using The Smart Strip® With A TiVo® Or DVR

If you have a TiVo® or DVR or you use your VCR to record TV broadcasts, then plug that device into the red "Always On Outlets". This will keep power available to the recording device at all times so it can record programs even if you are not using the TV. If you never program these devices to record programs, then leave it plugged into the "Automatically Switched Outlets" and save energy with that device.

Installing The Smart Strip® on Shop Equipment

The Smart Strip is an excellent device to automate a work-light and/or dust collection vac in your workshop. A simple example is shown below but there can be many configurations for tools and devices that you use together.

  1. Connect the vacuum hose of your shop-vac into your shop tool; like a table saw or sander.
  2. Plug your shop tool into the "Control Outlet".
  3. Plug your work light and/or shop-vac into the "Automatically Switched Outlets".
  4. Other tools or devices that do not need to be switched with the table saw can be plugged into the "Always On Outlets".
  5. The devices plugged into the "Control Outlet" will power on and off as the "Control" device is turned on and off.

Understanding the Indicators

Some Smart Strips have an illuminated Power Switch.  When the light is "On" this indicates that power switch is in the ON position and power is available at both the "Control Outlet" and "Always On Outlets". If this light is out, check that the power switch is in the ON position and the wall outlet that the Smart Strip is plugged into has power available (easily done by plugging a lamp into the wall outlet and turning it ON).  Newer models may not have an illuminated Power Switch.  In this case, simply check either the Grounded or Protected lights to determine if power is on and available to the outlets.

All Smart Strips have Grounded & Protected LEDs that indicate that 1) power to the Smart Strip is "ON", 2) the ground to the Smart Strip is connected to the ground line of the house power system, and 3) all of the surge protection components are functioning correctly. If the Grounded light is not illuminated, please check the ground by plugging the Smart Strip into a different wall outlet; preferably in another part of the building on a different circuit.  Electrical equipment and circuits should never be used if there is no path to ground.  If the ground light does not illuminate at different outlets, call a licensed electrician for help.

  • If, after plugging the Smart Strip into a different wall outlet, the Grounded & Protected LEDs are lit, then that means the ground to the first wall outlet is not functioning correctly.  Call an electrician for assistance and discontinue using the faulty outlet.
  • If, after plugging the Smart Strip into a different wall outlet, the Ground & Protected LEDs do not light up, the Smart Strip may have suffered a surge and is no longer protecting your connected equipment. Contact our Customer Support and we will be happy to assist you with this.
  • Please discontinue use of a Smart Strip if either or both the Grounded and/or Protected LED lights are not functioning as it may allow a surge to pass through and damage your equipment. All Surge Protective devices such as Smart Strips have a finite life.  At some point, they will absorb the limit of their designed capacity of current surges and voltage spikes and will no longer be capable of protecting connected equipment.  At that point, they are no longer functional and should be replaced.  Think of surge protectors as "insurance policies" that need to be periodically renewed and replaced.  If Smart Strips are used after the lights are no longer functioning, BITS Smart Strip, LLC is not liable for any damage to connected equipment.  See more on this subject by referring to the BITS Limited Warranty.

Older models of the Smart Strip had a "Switched Outlets ON" LED to indicate that the device plugged into the "Control Outlet" is ON and has turned ON the "Automatically Switched Outlets". This light will turn ON and OFF with the device plugged into the "Control Outlet" and when the light is ON it means there is power going to the "Automatically Switched Outlets".

Under normal operation, the Power Switch lamp and/or the Grounded & Protected LED are always ON when the power switch is in the ON position. If so equipped, models with the Switched Outlets lamp turn ON and OFF in concert with the device in the "Control Outlet".

Do I Need to Turn The Smart Strip® ON/OFF?

No, The Smart Strip was designed so you could set it up and forget it.  The Smart Strip will work in the background while it saves you energy and money. What the Smart Strip does when configured properly is what most people are trying to achieve by manually turning OFF a regular power strip. The Smart Strip takes care of this for you automatically. The only reason you should turn the Smart Strip OFF manually is if you are taking a vacation and the system will not be used for a while or if there is an issue with the way it is operating. Beyond having to move the setup from one location to another, and the previously mentioned reasons, there should be no reason for a consumer to ever turn the Smart Strip ON or OFF manually after installation.

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Troubleshooting

Setting Up Sleep Mode on Windows®  Computers

*NOTE* This is a default method. If some preference or administrative settings have been changed this may not be accurate.

  1. Click on the "Start" button on the bottom left of your screen
  2. Click on "Control Panel" under the settings section of the menu
  3. Click on the "Power Options" icon
  4. Change the sleep mode to the desired setting. When your operating system is installed most of the time deep sleep is disabled.
  5. Close the "Control Panel" windows
  6. Test the Smart Strip by placing your computer into the sleep mode, if the Smart Strip does not turn ON/OFF properly then follow the instructions for How To Adjust The Sensitivity Adjustment Dial if your model is so equipped.  Newer models of the Smart Strip have auto-sensing capabilities and do not require the adjustment screw.

Setting Up Sleep Mode on OS® Computers

*NOTE* This is a default method. If some preference or administrative settings have been changed this may not be accurate.

  1. Open "System Preferences" by clicking the apple in the upper left corner
  2. Look for the "Energy Saver" light bulb icon on the second row
  3. Change the sleep mode to the desired settings
  4. You also have the option of clicking on the "Schedule" button to setup schedules for automatically turning everything ON/OFF.
  5. Close the "System Preferences"
  6. Test the Smart Strip by placing your computer into the sleep mode, if the smart strip does not turn ON/OFF properly then follow the instructions for How to Adjust the Sensitivity Adjustment Dial if your model is so equipped. Newer models of the Smart Strip have auto-sensing capabilities and do not require the adjustment screw.

My Computer Wakes Up after I Put It to Sleep.

Some computer peripherals may need updated drivers in order to work properly with the Smart Strip. Try the following solutions in order:

  1. Move all of your computer peripherals to the "Constant Hot Outlets" or unplug them from the computer or unplug them from the outlets.
  2. Try the sleep mode, it should work properly.
  3. Plug one peripheral at a time back into the "Automatically Switched Outlets" and connect it to the computer. Test the sleep mode after connecting each device up (one at a time). Most of the time the offending device is a USB hub or a device with a built-in USB hub.
  4. If applicable; Look for and install any updated driver for the device that is causing the issue.
  5. If you are still having problems and you are running OSX, try Apple's Deep Sleep Program.
  6. If you are still having problems with a device, feel free to contact us or move it to the "Constant Hot Outlets". It is better to have sleep mode work correctly so you can maximize your energy savings than to save a small portion of energy of one device. Future patches/driver updates may resolve the problem, at which point you can move it back to the "Automatically Switched Outlets".

How to Adjust the Sensitivity Adjustment Dial

If your Smart Strip is equipped with a Sensitivity Screw:  Although the factory preset for the Smart Strip works with most devices, some devices have a different method of energy usage. You may need to "fine tune" your Smart Strip to work properly. The adjustment is either on the bottom or the long side of the Smart Strip near the power cord and labeled as +/- or "Adjust". To properly adjust the sensitivity please follow the instructions below. When adjusting the screw, it is best to think of the dial as if it were the face of a clock. During the procedure you will need to make small adjustments and then wait. The size of the adjustment should be about a one minute increment, or a very small adjustment. Also the dial is a one turn dial which means that it will stop turning at some point. Please do NOT force it past this point because it will break the dial and the only solution is to send it in for a repair.

If the "Automatically Switched Outlets" never turn ON:

  1. Turn ON the device that is plugged into the "Control Outlet".
  2. Turn the "Adjust" dial clockwise a small amount and wait for 3-5 seconds to see if the Smart Strip activates.
  3. If the Smart Strip does not come ON after the first adjustment then repeat step 2 until the Smart Strip does activate or you reach the end of the dials ability to turn.
  4. If the Smart Strip does activate during the above then turn OFF the device in the "Control Outlet". If the "Automatically Switched Outlets" turn OFF, you are done. If not follow the procedure below.

If the "Automatically Switched Outlets" never turn OFF:

  1. Turn OFF the device that is plugged into the "Control Outlet".
  2. Turn the "Adjust" dial counter clockwise a small amount and wait for 3-5 seconds to see if the Smart Strip deactivates.
  3. If the Smart Strip does not go OFF after the first adjustment then repeat step 2 until the Smart Strip does deactivate or you reach the end of the dial's ability to turn.
  4. If the Smart Strip does deactivate during the above then turn ON the device in the "Control Outlet". If the "Automatically Switched Outlets" turn ON, you are done. If not follow the procedure above.

If the neither of the above procedures work, or you are using the equipment listed below, please contact us for further technical support or a replacement.

  • Very low power draw device
  • A Stereo Receiver (see here also)
  • Older Apple Mac Mini computers
  • Dell laptop computers, with or without a docking station

My Smart Strip® Does Not Have an Adjustment Dial

Smart Strips sold after October 2003 are adjustable, please look for the adjustment on the long side of the Smart Strip by the power cord and LEDs. If you purchased your Smart Strip before October 2003 it is not adjustable. If you purchased your Smart Strip between July 2105 and February 2017, it uses Auto-Sensing and is not adjustable.  Smart Strips sold after February 2017 have the adjustment feature.

The Smart Strip® Adjustment Drifts

On some equipment the Smart Strip may experience a problem where the adjustment drifts and needs to be readjusted on a regular basis. This is not considered normal.  Fortunately, this problem is extremely rare. However, we may have a solution, so please contact us so we can help you to resolve the problem.

I Cannot Adjust The Smart Strip® to Work Correctly, or the "Automatically Switched Outlets" Never Turn ON/OFF

Make sure you do not have a cable/satellite receiver plugged into the "Control Outlet". They use the same amount of power while OFF as they do while ON, and therefore the Smart Strip will not be able to sense a current change. Use the TV in the "Control Outlet" instead. Then try How To Adjust The Sensitivity Adjustment Dial and if that does not work, check the Smart Strip with a lamp or different device. If the Smart Strip functions now correctly, then you need to use a different device in the "Control Outlet". If the Smart Strip is still not functioning properly, contact us for further technical support or a replacement.

The Smart Strip® Oscillates ON/OFF Slowly

If you have a DELL laptop, with or without a docking station, and are having issues, contact us.  We may be able to resolve the issue.  If you do not have the above computer then try the following steps before contacting us.

  1. Follow the instructions under How To Adjust The Sensitivity Adjustment Dial.
  2. Turn OFF the device in the "Control Outlet"
  3. Turn OFF the Smart Strip
  4. Turn the adjustment dial back and forth 2-3 times
  5. Leave the adjustment dial about mid-range
  6. Turn ON the Smart Strip
  7. Turn ON the device in the "Control Outlet"
  8. If everything works you are done
  9. If there is still an issue please contact us for further support

The Smart Strip® Is Making a Buzzing Sound

If the Smart Strip makes a buzzing sound when ON, please discontinue use immediately and contact us for a repair or replacement.

The Power Switch Is Lit but All of the Outlets Are Dead

If the power switch is lit, and all of the outlets are dead, and the red and green lights are OFF, the internal fuse may have opened or the Smart Strip has been reached the maximum designed surge limit. If the Smart Strip is still under warranty, please contact us for a replacement. If it is out of warranty, you may email us to purchase a new unit at a discounted price.  Remember, all Surge Protective devices such as Smart Strips® have a finite life. At some point, they will absorb the limit of their designed capacity of current surges and voltage spikes and will no longer be capable of protecting connected equipment. At that point, they are no longer functional and should be replaced. Think of surge protectors as "insurance policies" that need to be periodically renewed and replaced.

No Lights Are Lit and Nothing Works

Check that the power switch is ON. If it is then the wall outlet you plugged the Smart Strip into has no power so try a different wall outlet. The indicator inside the power switch is ahead of all of the internal fuses and therefore if it is not lit, the problem is probably the wall outlet. If the wall outlet has no power, check the circuit breaker or contact a licensed electrician.  If the outlet has power, then contact us for further troubleshooting.

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