Smart Electrical Outlet to Visualize Office Power Consumption

The key to conserving electricity at the office is to make power consumption at the electrical outlets visible

In 2005, the Ministry of the Environment announced the term “Cool Biz” (allowing more casual clothing to be worn in business) to get through the hot summer. Since then, not wearing a jacket or necktie in the office and setting the room temperature to 28ºC have become standard practices in Japan.

Awareness of the need for electricity conservation became particularly prevalent after the Great East Japan Earthquake. In order to reduce power consumption in the office, it is necessary not only to set the temperature of air conditioning systems higher but also to carry out various other initiatives. According to surveys conducted by Japan’s Energy Conservation Center, while air conditioning systems account for 28% of total power consumption in the office, lighting and electrical outlets represent 40% and 32%, respectively. It is important to consider how to reduce power consumption for electrical outlets as well as for air conditioning and lighting. Making power consumption visible is garnering public attention as an effective means of achieving this goal.

Smart electrical outlets to measure power consumption per outlet

To conserve electricity, air conditioning systems allow users to adjust the set temperature; users can turn lighting apparatuses on and off diligently. However, users cannot tell at a glance how much electricity is being consumed through electrical outlets, nor have there previously been any practical means of measuring power consumption per electrical outlet.

Many people may become aware that unnecessary power consumption can be reduced if it becomes possible to make power consumption per electrical outlet visible. Based on such a desire, Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has developed a smart electrical outlet.

This smart electrical outlet is a power-strip-type electrical outlet capable of detecting changes in power consumption in terms of watts. Measured values can be displayed on a PC screen after connecting the outlet via a USB port; in addition, connections to gateway equipment enable users to gather measured values for all electrical outlets in the entire office over the network and make office power consumption visible.

Aiming to raise users’ awareness of green working styles

How much can power consumption actually be reduced using these smart electrical outlets? In an experiment conducted jointly with the government of the City of Yokohama, power consumption was cut an average of 13 W/h per desktop PC (about 20%) and an average of 1.0 W/h per notebook PC (about 5%).

Use of smart electrical outlets allows businesses, local governments, and other organizations to collect power consumption data per department and per individual as well as to display comparison results and raise the awareness of personnel regarding the need to conserve energy by linking outlets to the schedulers they usually use. In addition, these outlets can be introduced even in cases such as leased buildings where facilities cannot be remodeled.

Future applications include sending power consumption data to a data center over the network for analysis and enabling administrators to view analysis results on the Web as well as applying smart electrical outlets to whole office energy management by linking them to power generation and storage equipment. Going forward, Fujitsu will continue to strive to develop products that help create greater awareness among people regarding the need to shift to environmentally friendly, green work styles.