thinkeco modlet: Killing "vampire" power intelligently

thinkeco's smart outlet, the modlet, seen at CESWe’ve seen a number of gadgets pop up lately that promise to help with the issue of “vampire” or “phantom” power: the trickle of energy that devices of all shapes and sizes consume just because they’re plugged in – though not in use. Some, like powerbars that cut power to attached devices by determining the state of a “master” outlet, do this in a passive way – there is only “on” or “off”. But better options will soon exist, including this smart outlet from thinkeco. The modlet is a dual outlet that communicates wirelessly with your PC and the web to not only turn off power to those hungry yet idle components, but can also learn your usage patterns in order to optimize this behaviour. Best of all, the cost is quite reasonable and the company expects the Modlet to pay for itself within 6-9 months. An online tool let you monitor the activity of your Modlets so that you can see the cost-savings in real time, and turn the outlets on or off while away from home.



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  2. Barfolemieu III

    WOW!!! Another gadget that I can plug into the computer!

    NO THANKS… I am old school and while all you kids are running around like zombies talking into your screens; but avoiding the real-living right in-front of you…I am growing food for yas all on The Farm.

    On The Farm… we just unplug EVERYTHING when we stop using it. That’s the way we did it in the 40’s and (you’ll see….) that’s the way it’ll be again as your energy costs go through the roof in the next year.

    We use computers on the farm, but we don’t plug out tomatoes into them pardner, lol!

    EMF is generated by EVERYTHING that is plugged in. We sleep better by un-plugging EVERYTHING at night. Better to hear the coyotes in the distance, that the song of the wind carries over to us when they sing at night.

    Them darn coyotes…always tryin’ to get at our chickens! LOL!



    • Mike

      Good comments, unpluged everything is the way to go when possible.

      That is the way of living……

      Mike from Canada


    • Simon Cohen

      Heh, a little over-the-top, but I take your point :)
      I actually think the Modlet works *with* your current practice of unplugging, not against it. The device is designed so that you never have to unplug a device just to save on energy or go on vacation. Not sure how things are set up on “The Farm” but down here in the city, all of our plugs are hidden away, out of site and kind of hard to get to frankly. I can’t imagine unplugging our TV, receiver, DVD player, satellite box every time we finished watching TV. Plus, if you have kids, that becomes an even less likely scenario. The Modlet might not be perfect, but I think in the future, every house will be equipped with this kind of technology. It’s just a smarter way to manage electricity consumption. That said, if you’re happy unplugging your devices like back in 40’s, more “power” to you ;-)


  3. DazedandAmazed

    Good Grief! I tyotally agree with the above posters.

    When I go on holiday, I unplug ‘everything’, but after Barfolemieu III’s comment, I may start doing that more frequently.

    Here’s a few other points:

    My high quality surge protector’s instructions inform me that it wants to be plugged directly into a wall socket, otherwise, that company’s commitment to replacing my computer and peripherals etc, should there be some whacking great power surge, will not be possible for me to take advantage of.

    Wait – what is that I hear in the distance? Could it be the advice of every fire department and fire prevention officer on this continent informing people notn to have too many extensions etc, etc, etc plugged in?

    Suppose this gadget makes a mistake – could it turn off somebody’s home medical equipment, because it ‘learned incorrectly’?

    I suppose there is some sort of warranty, but, what is it? We were not given that information.

    Where is it made? You can bet that the manufacturer of a new gadget will want to maximize profit, so please, somebody tell me it is not built in China or some other Third World country

    What the heck ever happened to making a checklist and goping round the house unplugging, locking etc prior to leaving on vacation?

    Only $0.00 or $50.00 you say? MmmmHmmm – did you forget the tax? Make that [in Ontario which has 13% HST] $45.20 or $56.50; and, how many outlets did you say you have in your home? I live in an apartment so I’ll just have to wing it here – hmmm – 3 bedroom home, 4 plugs per room (BR1, BR2, BR3, Upstairs hall – 4 ea., Ensuite Bath – 2, Hall bath – 1, Main floor hall – 4, Kitchen – 6, Dining Room – 2, Living Room – 8, Basement & Garage – 12) – so, that’s enough, and nobody is going to [hopefully] put one in every single plug, but let’s just see how insane we can make this option?

    Total outlets = 51
    $45.20 x 51 = $2,305.20
    $56.50 x 51 = $2,881.50

    Wow – now I’m fully equipped, technologically speaking. Mind you, my intellectual deficit may be growing, but my home is green[er]!

    This world is going to hell in a handbasket!


    • Jason

      Hey Dazed, slow down a bit there. I think you are getting carried away. This device isn’t intended to replace all the outlets in your home. Just the outlets you use for “trickle” electronics. You don’t have something plugged into EVERY outlet in your home do you? Your example of 4 outlets in a bedroom would suggest that you have way too much stuff plugged in. Objects like lamps, clocks, appliances, medical equipment and the like do not typically trickle electric current because they draw a consistent level of electricity for their constant use. An excellent example of a device they are talking about would be a dvd player. A lot of dvd players draw an insignificant amount of power for no good reason. If you were to manually turn on your dvd player, it would still work, but the modlet would keep it from draining the tiny bits of power the rest of the time, which could add up to a significant amount over the course of a year.

      Directly unplugging your electronics when they are not in use, is of course still the safest and most reliable way to save electricity. Having said that, this outlet would provide a level of CONVENIENCE rather than having to run around plugging and unplugging your items regularly. It would potentially save wear and tear on outlets and the plugs themselves. Who among us has never pulled a plug out of the wall by the cord rather than by the plug itself.

      I don’t think I would run out and buy one of these, but if I was given one as a gift, I would certainly use it. It’s hardly a ground-shattering breakthrough, but it is hardly the evil device you are portraying.


  4. DazedandAmazed

    Sorry for a few typos in previous post, and, forgot to mention that it looks quite bulky, so if somebody plugs this in, and then installs a 6-outlet block on top of it, and then plugs in 6 items, the setup will come out about 6″ from the wall. The least the inventor could have done was make this a 6-outlet device, with plugs facing sideways, but that would have been too simple.

    Hmmmm – a few other random thoughts occur to me…

    1. It gives the cats and other small pets extra places to hide behind furniture when you need to corral them for some reason or other.

    2. If adventurous little toddlers’ hands manage to yank on all the cords and pull the whole arrangement out of the wall, will it misinterpret that event as “they want me to turn ‘it’ off for ‘x’ number of days, if for instance, the darling child manages to pull something out that you don’t use regularly?

    3. Anybody want to try one of these on your fridge or freezer, and ‘guarantee’ me that nothing will ever happen to your food supply? Remember, your wonder-plug will be ‘learning’ your habits!

    Have we not already got enough technological devices existent in the world”? What’s next – I know – let’s invent an electrical plug end that has a very small explosive charge in it (kind of like explosive seat bolts in fighter jets, but on a much smaller scale), which can be activated by a remote control – the goal would be to have the plug propel itself out of the receptacle to save us the effort of pulling it out manually. But wait, there’s more…we’d have to invent some robotic device to go out across the floor and pick the plug end up(hopefully with its cord still attached) and put it somewhere. Gee, I guess we’ll have to have a human being figure that one out!


    • Simon Cohen

      Hey SmellieHippie (love that handle), the product isn’t on the market yet, hence no price or retail info. Check their website for more info.


  5. Hank

    Just another in a long line of bs products we don’t need but will be brainwashed to believe that we do. The masses are salivating! Remember, sustainable means no people required as outlined in Agenda 21.


  6. ck

    Hey, the posters above seem to think it sucks, but I think it is amazing!

    Yeah, yeah anti-materialism and all that… but when I look at the crap that is plugged into my the outlet used for my computer: power bar, two cellphone chargers, cabel modem, wireless router and that is just today…

    One of these gadgets could actually save money.

    Now I always turn the main power bar off when the computer or accessories are not in use, but most people don’t. To pay off this thing in a couple of months could really save a lot of Energy and Money for those who do not follow the above intellent advice, ‘just unplug’.


  7. Barfolemieu III

    OK… After reading all of the above posts, I changed my mind altogether.

    I will get one.

    Why the sudden about-face? My Reasoning…

    It is cute and reminds me of “Albino Peanut Twins” in a gestation period, with smiles on their faces before they are even born. Good Little Souls :)

    I always wanted a low maintenance electronic pet; kind’a like them Egg-things that you take care of and they purrrr or something….

    Oh…Just’a sec… “What’s that Dear?” (My gorgeous wife is calling me…) You’ve got some of that homemade sweet-beer with sarsaparilla and licorice root for me? “YEEEEE–HAAAAAA!”

    The heck with this *hit! I changed my mind again– NO POWER SAVER PETS.

    We’re gonna drink the homemade stuff and make our own farm grown Home-fries! “YEEEEE_HAAAA Again!”

    I just love the country life…


  8. WHY???????

    I don’t know about all of you, but my power usage only alots for $25 of my $65 electricity bill each month. The majority of the costs is all of the fees and tax that gets added.

    If the world suddenly uses less electricity, the power companies are just going to up their fees to make up for the loss in usage. You wont save any money.


  9. Kevin

    Ok, everyone has a right to say what’s on their mind.

    My thoughts on this is that mankind will continue to develop new technology each and every day. We can either embrace it, ridicule it or ignore it. Fact is, it’s going to happen. Even the “farmer” above mentions sticking with the 40’s. Why not the 20’s? What would you be using for equipment if it were not for technology? Could you use oxen pulling a trough through your crops? Or hand pick your veggies or whatever you might grow on your farm? No, you more than likely have newer tools that were not around in the late 1800’s let alone the early 1900’s. So you’ve moved on with technology that works for you.

    Now what about those of you that slam this device saying that we should all unplug our devices by hand? I’m guessing here that you all have computers? phones (whether land-line or cell)? TV’s? What would your grandparents say to all these so called “gadgets”? “When we were your age, we…blah, blah, blah.”. I know I’ve heard it from my grandparents.

    Mankind continues to evolve, whether for good or bad, it’s a fact. And technology that make things too easy for us will also continue to evolve. So long as someone out there thinks there is a use for it, it will be there whether we like it or not.

    So what I’m trying to say is…even if you don’t like it, you have to respect it. And if you really don’t like it, don’t buy it.

    IT’S THAT SIMPLE…take care y’all…

    Kevin (respect for all)