Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Green Movement and Custom Installation

Published March 16, 2010 by:
Recommendations from Prominent Movement Spokespeople Poised to Cause ProblemsAlthough well-meaning in their advice, many prominent spokespeople from the Green movement are advocating courses of action in handling electronics that may cause as influx of service calls and general product issues. Since the late 90s, Energy Star-rated gear is responsible for cutting down on a large percentage of wasted (or "phantom") electricity, by cutting down the amount of power required for electronics to consume while in standby. Admonitions from the Green movement to completely remove potentially high-consumption devices from all power unless in use can and will cause issues unless treated correctly. Although many devices are unaffected by this, the Green movement does not supply a comprehensive list of which electronic devices will and won't be affected by this advice. Unfortunately, the ones calling for the complete disconnection of devices are not fully educated on the complex programming and ramifications associated with random power
Standby mode is important for a number of reasons, most notably that standby is designed to supply a small amount of power to the device, so that memory remains unaffected. Additionally, complex systems that rely on a constant stream of power to supply data to other devices downstream will suffer from environmentally-conscious but not electronics-educated individuals, seeking to save a little consumption through this course of action. Ironically, these automated systems are the very ones designed to be programmable, controlling lights, appliances, security, and even landscaping systems. Improper power management in these conditions creates a scenario where custom installers are forced on service calls, costing owners of businesses and systems alike needlessly. Many systems (such as larger Crestron automation networks) operate much like PCs; proper shutdown and startup protocols must be observed in order to maintain expected operation. For the past few years, manufacturers have attempted to exploit the Green market by creating innovative solutions for resource management. Additionally, these same innovators are well aware of the cost and manpower issues presented when ad-hoc "solutions" for power management are improperly deployed.Simpler systems, such as small home theaters, suffer from this philosophy as well. Many television and audio/video receivers "forget" input assignments and settings when unexpectedly removed from all current. Complex and detailed settings (especially for calibrated televisions) are at risk when disconnected from power for a length of time, causing unnecessary headaches for system owners and employees of retailers, pressed into troubleshooting service. Calibration of a high-end television can cost anywhere from $200, all the way up to over $1,000, with many of the best, most well-known calibrators flying hundreds of miles to do their work. Saving a few dollars in lost electricity is commonly spent in system downtime, and additional expense by getting the equipment back to a functional state.The Green movement has laudable goals, none of which intend to create hardship for owners of customized media systems. However, unintended consequences for systems and their owners are based on a widespread misunderstanding of power-conservation features and programmability already present on better gear. It remains to be seen if the consumer electronics industry will successfully reach out to the preachers of power consumption, creating an educational environment for consumers