This guest post is by Joe Symons of Meanwell Direct.
For those of us unfamiliar with external power supplies they are devices that convert ac power from wall outlet into a lower voltage DC or AC power. To put it simply they are the large bricks connected by cables that you plug into the wall to power appliances. These external power supplies generally come in their own physical enclosure separate from the end-user products. External power supplies are the things powering your laptops, printer, phones and almost every other appliance in your home.
It is recorded that more than 1 billion external power supplies are shipped every year, and the average American household has between 5 and 10 of these components. This is a huge number of external power supplies and on top of their vast global demand they can often have terrible energy efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA’s) research has suggested that approximately one third to one half of the energy that flows through the power supply is actually wasted as it is converted to heat or lost. With 1 billion external power supplies shipping each year this adds up to a staggering quantity power lost.
Whilst the energy efficiency is a huge problem another may be the global incompatibility between power supplies. For example the incompatibility of mobile phones chargers is a huge environmental problem as well an an inconvenience for users. As things are at the moment, when you purchase your mobile phone you will get the relevant charger for it. If the same person would then change phone they would likely need to get a new charger (depending on the brands) regardless of their old chargers condition. This is entirely unnecessary and generates vast quantities of electrical waste. The standardisation of mobile phone chargers alone could bring significant improvements both economically and environmentally. Consumer experience would also improve, gone would be the days of rummaging around friends houses looking for their old phone chargers. Whilst this is just one example for phones the same applies across the board in the electronics industry.
Whilst there is hope within the mobile phone industry as a result of a EU sponsored Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which agreed to make new data-enabled phones marketed within the European Union compatible with one common external power supply. This was in June 2009 and as of August 2011 14 major mobile phone manufactures have signed up including: Apple, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Nokia. Whilst the intentions are good realistically this will not be happening any time soon, as leaked images of Apples new iPhone would suggest all previous iPhone chargers will be incompatible with their newest addition to the iPhone family coming this year.
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