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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

Bye-Bye Wall Warts

 
     

No, they’re not superstores or weird Harry Potter pets, but the external adaptors that clutter our homes and suck power from the grid. And Doug Palmer wants to get rid of them.

Palmer, a principal development engineer at UC San Diego’s Calit2, is in the initial stages of designing a prototype for a Universal Power Adapter—a “smart” replacement for traditional external power adapters.

Informally known as uPower, the adapter would serve as a single power supply for one or more mobile or fixed devices or power packs, virtually eliminating the need for external adapters or wall warts. Currently, the U.S. electric power grid delivers electricity at 220 or 110 volts, but more and more devices require only 3 to 12 volts. The uPower would provide only the voltage needed—no more, no less.

“ Even when they’re just plugged in and not powering anything, those little wall warts suck up three watts.” Palmer says. “Ten percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. is just for keeping wall warts warm!"

Contributors to Making Waves: Kim Edwards, Tiffany Fox, Raymond Hardie, Pat JaCoby, Annie Reisewitz

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