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PumPing Tap concept literally ejects power cords to save energy

By

January 1, 2012

If a  device uses no energy for ten minutes, the PumPing Tap's spring-loaded mechanism pop...

If a device uses no energy for ten minutes, the PumPing Tap's spring-loaded mechanism pops the plug out of the socket like a projectile from a toy dart gun

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For years, environmentalists have warned that keeping electronics plugged in all the time wastes energy, even when a device is switched off. Even for less green-conscious consumers this lost energy can add up on the electric bill each month, so disconnecting unused devices or switching them off at the wall is really a good habit for anyone to get into. But let's be honest, it's hard to remember to unplug each gadget every single time it's used. To help with this, designers have created the PumPing Tap, a concept electrical socket that can detect an unused power cord and physically eject it from the wall.

The PumPing Tap is actually pretty simple in design. Sensors in the circuit detect whether the plug is actively using electricity, and, if it isn't, the light on the outside turns from blue to red. Ten minutes later, if the device is still switched off, a spring-loaded mechanism pops the plug out of the socket like a projectile from a toy dart gun. As far as methods for cutting down on power consumption go, this one is very direct. The PumPing Tap was even one of the winners of the Red Dot Design Concept award.

PumPing Tap is designed to conserve electricity by automatically unplugging devices that a...

Of course there are some obvious drawbacks to this method of energy conservation. For one, most people have at least a handful of outlets hidden behind furniture specifically to keep them out of the way, so plugging an electrical cord back in could mean rearranging the living room. Plus there's the lingering question of how much energy needs to be used for the cord to stay plugged in. It's too easy to imagine a fully charged mobile phone's power cord being ejected from the wall, leaving the phone's battery to slowly drain.

Source: Yanko Design

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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21 Comments

Not a bad idea, but why does it have to physically remove the cord from the wall. In my view it would be much more user friendly if you it just disconnected the power from the socket. Smart homes have this capability even now. This won't take off.

Ross Jenkins
1st January, 2012 @ 05:10 pm PST

Uh, what about the electricity used to sense whether anything is plugged in? That may exceed the power used by electronics with ever more efficient sleep states. That's on top of the shortcomings listed in the article. If this is really necessary, why not just have the control circuits cut power to the outlet rather than having electromechanical devices that can jam or fail?

Gadgeteer
1st January, 2012 @ 05:55 pm PST

I have a better idea. Stop being lazy. It takes less than 2 seconds of minimal effort to unplug a cord. Do we really need the added expenses of these mechanisms that needs energy to build? I bet the energy saved would be negligible compared to the amount of energy need to be produce, transport and maintain/operate.

And what happens to the 'old' plug being replaced that works perfectly if you use common sense? Right... to the land fill.

If designers can design/invent/innovate something, doesn't mean that something needs to be invented. Common sense is the best invention a man would ever need before anything else needs to be invented/innovated.

SpaceBagels
1st January, 2012 @ 07:18 pm PST

It's cool, could potentially be a good pranking device, but it's not the most practical solution to the problem of energy consumption. It would be better to use the sensor and apply it to a wall outlet that has an on/off switch. They've been making those forever (always found them annoying, never saw a point to them), plus flipping the switch would be easier than plugging a device in again every time you want to use it.

Ethan Brush
1st January, 2012 @ 11:00 pm PST

It's a case of a solution looking for a problem to solve. But the problem is only temporary, and can be solved in the long run by better designing the domestic electric circuit.

eg

Since many power spike sensitive devices need to be left on, either completely or on standby, new housing should have duplicate wall sockets throughout, one with surge protection, the other without, colour coded appropriately. The non-protected sockets are all controlled by a single wall switch inside the house, and every device which doesn't need to left plugged in goes into the non-protected sockets, so flicking the single switch will automatically "unplug" every non-essential device throughout the house.

The householder can decide which device should go in which coloured socket and apply appropriately coloured tape insulation tape or paint or ... whatever.

The other alternative which I use is to have two power boards, colour coded, and just do the same thing. By just unplugging one board, I can turn off several items simultaneously. It's probably a less costly solution than having the house re-wired.

Joe Blake
2nd January, 2012 @ 04:54 am PST

This is a good Idea however I have to agree with some of the other posters. This is not very practical for most items as it is a huge pain to have to plug in everything in your entertainment system when you want to say watch a movie.

How about this... A completely automated way of unplugging and re-plugging in devices when not in use. It's called the Smart Strip. http://bitsltd.net/ These Surge Protectors will *Automatically* stop the flow of power to some of its outlets when one main device is not in use. Check them out. They protect your equipment while saving you energy and therefore money!

Bits Info
2nd January, 2012 @ 10:38 am PST

The best thing about this is it's a poor idea that's encouraging a brainstorm of good ideas from readers.

I was wondering when we'll merge from traditional power sockets to USB connections or even go completely wireless - all controlled from a smart device (iPad?) on the wall, which would also allow full control of lights, music, curtains, etc.

Greg Beazley
2nd January, 2012 @ 05:08 pm PST

Isn't this over-engineered? Wouldn't it be much easier to just build some sort of circuit breaker in the device (like circuit breakers found in the cords of hair-blowers?)? When the circuit breaks, there'd be an LED indicator indicating that the circuit has been broken and that if they need to use the device, simply press a button to connect the circuit.

This thing is also dangerous around kids. What if there's something in the way (perhaps a backpack was left next to the outlet), and the plug only ejected half-way as a result? I could see some little kid sticking his finger or something in the half-ejected powercord and getting electrocuted. This product is already a bust.

Sambath Pech
2nd January, 2012 @ 06:22 pm PST

Is the presumption here that a device plugged in, but switched off at the wall, still uses power? Weird.

Steve Bennett
2nd January, 2012 @ 07:46 pm PST

Why on earth would you unplug it if its not using any electricity?

Most power supplies for laptop chargers, phone and other battery chargers use a transformer which keeps drawing current when not in use. That is why its recommended to unplug these power supplies.

Lights don't use any power when off and like a previous person said, it would sure suck to have to plug a light every time you want to use it.

The ultimate solution is for power supplies to sense when the battery operated device is plugged in and use the battery power to close the incoming wall circuit to start the charge. It wouldn't work for non battery powered devices. Some body else can figure that one out.

Just my two cents.

Steve Long
2nd January, 2012 @ 10:07 pm PST

what a joke. one more thing to fail ! most all new devices that are rechargeable require so little power on standby this device is a waist of space

Jay Finke
3rd January, 2012 @ 08:32 am PST

I live in an all-electric house - (25 years ago hyped as the best way to heat a house). For a few hours a day for a very few weeks I air-condition my house, the rest of the time I rely on electricity to keep the house comfortably warm. why should I worry about unplugging a few wall warts only to have my thermostat turn on my baseboard heaters a tiny bit sooner!!

There are many ways to save power, just look at a satellite view of the earth at night, or a thermal camera view of houses in winter, or a factory cooling tower. Remember the Pareto's Law and go after the biggies.

cwigley
3rd January, 2012 @ 09:39 am PST

Great! Now I have to dig behind my TV, dresser, bed or what have you to find the plug when I need to reconnect. No thank you.

Thomas Roberts
3rd January, 2012 @ 10:05 am PST

I have a plug in multi way board into which you plug in your DVD, TV, And Satellite box,and a side light. When you press the on button on the TV remote control, everything turns on, and off when you press the off button. Neat. It actually leaves the Sat box on standby, to preserve data and timer.

windykites1
3rd January, 2012 @ 12:10 pm PST

Dumbest Idea ever based on false information.

Larry Hoffman
3rd January, 2012 @ 12:37 pm PST

A not very well thought out solution looking for a problem to solve.

Who in their right mind wants to have a plug pop out of the socket when you switch something off, especially sockets in positions that require moving furniture to get at?

The one thing I miss here in France is the switched socket like those in the UK. They would be far better off to design a socket with a built in switch for use in parts of the world that don't have switched sockets than this over complicated device.

ivan4
3rd January, 2012 @ 01:46 pm PST

Idiotic.

Bob Humbly
3rd January, 2012 @ 07:03 pm PST

I want USB ports that actually eject what's plugged in when I right click on them then left click Eject, just like the old Macintosh floppy drives.

Gregg Eshelman
3rd January, 2012 @ 09:52 pm PST

This is stupid.

Paul Anthony
4th January, 2012 @ 10:05 am PST

Uhhh, so it pops out if it's NOT using electricity so it can REDUCE electrical consumption?? Who's idiotic idea is this and which idiots gave it an award?

warren52nz
15th January, 2012 @ 04:19 pm PST

Just what the Grieving (to be) Heirs need to plug good old Rich Uncle Bartholomew's Iron Lung into.

Myron J. Poltroonian
12th March, 2012 @ 08:11 pm PDT
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