New Federal Battery Charger Efficiency Standards Will Power America’s Mobility without Costing the Earth
NRDC, May 9, 2016
Small devices, big savings
The DOE’s new standards, released last Friday, are designed to make chargers more efficient by just over 10 percent on average when they go into effect in May 2018, saving 500 million kilowatt-hours annually, enough electricity to power all the households in a city of 100,000 people.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg: national savings are roughly 30 times as high, or 18 billion kilowatt-hours, when accounting for California’s existing battery charger standards that have been in effect since 2013 and whose effects were felt far beyond the Golden State’s borders. In fact, DOE estimates that 95 percent of all products sold on the U.S. market now comply with California requirements. State and federal standards combined will save enough electricity annually as the output of six large (500-megawatt) coal-fired power plants.
DOE’s new standards mostly mirror California’s and extend them to the rest of the country, ensuring all products sold in America are designed to waste less energy, and locking-in the financial, health, and environmental benefits driven by the original state standards. The new federal standards mirror California’s for most products, and even improve them for a few product types such as electric toothbrushes and golf cars.
Until the DOE’s standards, there had been only two states, California and Oregon, that had acted on concerns about the energy wasted to keep mobile product batteries charged, such as when continuing to pump current into fully charged batteries for lack of charge control, or when charge control circuits draw much higher vampire loads than necessary.
While some of the smaller individual devices, like cordless phones and cell phones, require only a small amount of electricity to achieve a full charge, the fact that there are more than two billion such devices nationwide—between 15 and 20 per household—being powered up daily constitutes a substantial drain on the grid.