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Calif. Energy Commission approves energy efficiency rules for battery charger systems; automotive chargers exempted

13 January 2012

The California Energy Commission approved a first-in-the-nation energy efficiency standard that will reduce wasted energy by battery chargers commonly used to power cell phones, laptop computers, power tools, and other devices.

The rules explicitly exclude devices used to charge a motor vehicle that is powered by an electric motor drawing current from rechargeable storage batteries, fuel cells, or other portable sources of electrical current, and which may include a nonelectrical source of power designed to charge batteries and components. This exception does not apply to autoettes, electric personal assistive mobility devices, golf carts, or low speed vehicles.

The rules cover larger battery charger systems; small battery charger systems; inductive charger systems; and battery backup and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), both consumer and non-consumer.

The proposed regulations for battery charger systems include measurement of power consumption in active mode, maintenance mode, and no battery mode; power factor for larger battery charger systems; and labeling and marking requirements.

When you consider powering California’s plugged-in lifestyle, these new efficiency standards will save consumers money and energy. The standards will reduce the wasted electricity from powering our day-to-day appliances by 40 percent and help California meet its strategic climate policy goals. Once again, California is setting the standard for energy efficiency, keeping the state’s dominance as the most energy efficient state per capita.

—Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller

Battery chargers for both large and small appliances are composed of (1) a power supply (corded plug); (2) a battery; and (3) internal charging circuitry. Cell phones, digital cameras, cordless telephones, laptop and tablet computers, power tools, electric toothbrushes, electric razors, commercial barcode scanners, and larger items such as golf carts and forklifts all use battery charger systems.

There are an estimated 170 million chargers in California households, an average of 11 battery chargers per household. While many manufacturers produce energy efficient electronic devices, many products on the market lack efficient charging technology. The proposed standards can save nearly 2,200 gigawatt hours (GWh) each year—enough energy to power nearly 350,000 homes or a city roughly the size of Bakersfield. Once fully implemented, California ratepayers will save more than $300 million annually and eliminate 1 million metric tons of carbon emissions, according to CEC.

Energy consumed to charge batteries is increasing in California. Because nearly two-thirds of the 8,000 GWh of electricity consumed in California by battery charger systems (or battery chargers) is wasted by inefficiency, the Energy Commission proposed appliance efficiency standards requiring battery chargers to consume less energy while providing the same performance.

The Energy Commission began working on these energy efficiency standards in April 2008. Since then, the Commission’s staff has collaborated with a variety of stakeholders including the state’s major utility companies, environmental organizations, manufacturing interests, and consumer groups in a public process to develop cost-effective and feasible regulations.

Supporters include: Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas Company, Southern California Edison, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environment California, Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), Earth Justice, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT), NW Energy Coalition, Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PMSA), and the government of Australia.

Consumer chargers used in cell phones, personal care devices, and power tools will be required to comply with the new standards by 1 February 2013. Industrial charger compliance (e.g. forklifts) is required by 1 January 2014. Compliance for small commercial chargers (such as walkie talkies and portable barcode scanners) is required by 1 January 2017.

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Comments

Good idea. Many (most) home battery chargers continue to use energy after batteries are fully charged.

I recently connected Cable TV/Internet/Phone Modems, PC, TV, DVD, Phone, Cell Phone, Sound bar, Printer etc on a large power bar + an electronic power metering unit. I was not surprised that power consumption is as high as 29 Watts with all units turn off. On a yearly basis this represents a waste of 255 Kwh or about $20/yr at our very low e-power tariff.

With today's technology, it would be very easy to automatically turn off (0% energy usage) all electronic gadgets, when not in real use and save about 50 Kwh/year/house. Multiplied by 100,000,000+ houses, the net energy saving could be enough to power many BEVs completely free.

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