Sounds like something that should be discussed during October, it is scary, but not in a paranormal way…. a phantom load is simply electricity that is being used when an electrical appliance is turned off but still plugged in. These are thieves, they use up or steal electricity but don’t give anything in return. Much like vampires, they may look cool but don’t do anything good for us in the long run.
Many electronics have internal memory, clocks and other things that require electricity to keep the information available, think about what happens when the power is shut off at your home, you usually come home to blinking numbers on your microwave and some clocks. To keep this from happening when the item is just turned off (not un-powered) the appliance uses electricity to keep these things in memory.
It also keeps the appliance warmed up and ready to start faster, if you are old enough I know you will remember having to turn on your TV earlier then you really wanted to watch it, that was to allow the TV to “warm up”, the screen would be distorted or not on at all until it had a chance to warm up, well electronics manufacturers figured out that people like things to come of instantly when they push the button, so they built in the “warm up” time by actually keeping parts of the item on, even if it appeared to be shut off.
What does this mean for you, if you are on grid, then it will mean a higher electricity bill for you, but honestly that’s about it… for the off-gridder however, it means a lot more. If you are working on a set amount of electricity from a set of batteries, then you don’t want phantom loads sucking the power from your batteries when you aren’t actually using it.
Think of it like having a leak in your water, it doesn’t seem like much but if it goes on all the time, especially from multiple locations, you can lose a LOT of water over a surprisingly short period of time.
The way we deal with this is to use those power strips with multiple plugs, that way we can turn off the power to anything we aren’t actually using right then. Recently I found a device that does me one better, it is a power strip with individual power buttons for each plug on it. Now I can turn on or off, individually each thing that is hooked up to this power strip, I can still turn off everything on this strip by the master switch.
Before this, I would plug and unplug the extra things on my power strip, this is the power strip that goes to my computer area, we have 2 laptops, a light, the wireless internet antenna, and a router, we don’t always use all of these items at the same time, it’s usually just my laptop, light and wireless internet antenna. Now I can just turn off the items I am not using at the time instead of having to plug and unplug each thing.
Once I used it for a while and decided what things to plug in the specific slots, I used a permanent marker to identify what is plugged into each spot.