Osun MushRoom Green Zero USB charger
Cute carbon cutter
Geek Treat of the Week Leaving your gadgets plugged in and charging has two drawbacks. One, you continue to draw juice when you don’t need it, to the general detriment of life on Earth. Second, it hardly helps with battery life.
As an HTC Desire HD owner, it’s the latter I worry about. Even with a perfectly healthy battery, the time between charges is alarmingly brief.
Enter the Green Zero MushRoom USB mains charger, complete with biodegradable recycled tubular card packaging. The idea behind this literally green gadget is simple: plug it in and it charges until your device is sated, then it cuts off the juice.
This means CO2 emissions are reduced. Apparently if all the 70-odd million chargers in use worldwide were swapped out for Green Zeros it would save 47 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Make sure you choose the right one
It seems to work too. As soon as the charge indicator on my HD hit 100 per cent, the charging icon vanished. Push the green rubber mushroom button - cunningly designed for foot activation so you don't waste energy bending down - and charging resumes.
Does it extend battery life? Ask me in 12 months' time.
The box is recyclable
What it does do is provide reassurance if you are worried about charging a device at night or when you are out of the house. We’ve all heard those stories of gadget batteries exploding, melting or erupting into sheets of volcanic flame.
The space under the cap of the mushroom acts as a cable tidy - aesthetically more pleasing if you wrap an Apple-white USB cable around it - but Osun doesn’t supply any cables. That’s not surprising with a third of the world wanting Mini USB, a third Micro USB and all the rest Apple's connector.
It's a wrap
Technical qualities aside, it’s a well-made and rather attractive little unit, a selling point in itself in these painfully design obsessed times.
The MushRoom is only just starting to filter into UK retail channels but you can expect to pay something in the region of £15 for one. Not exactly cheap I grant you, but the cutting edge of eco-consciousness seldom is. ®
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You aren't going to knacker your battery by leaving it "on charge", largely because you aren't leaving it on charge. Ever noticed how most devices have a little LED that changes colour when its fully charged (usually from amber to green). Yep, that's right, it manages its own charging and stops charging the battery when its full. It then continues to power itself from external DC until it is unplugged, ensuring that the battery is nice and full when you disconnect it.
Plug your phone into this thing and it will charge it up (over a couple or three hours) and then disconnect. At that point your phone is on battery. So you won't wake up to a fully charged phone.
Now, running your device on battery is *less* green than running it on mains power because of the inefficiencies in charging. As using this thing means your device is spending more time on battery power, it could actually be less "green" than merely relying on the device's internal charge regulator.
how small a fraction
I am guessing (and without actual figures it can only be a guess) that to save more CO2 per year, you should
1. drink one cup of coffee less per year
2. switch your centeral heating off one hour per year
3. not switch on telly one evening per year
In other words the saving is so miniscule that doing virtually anything else will save more
The review unfortunately missed out what the output power was - would it charge an iPhone or iPad for example or does it only have a 500ma output? Also how efficient is it when charging - some power adapters are much more efficient than others?
Does it really extend battery life? Most smartphones will have circuitry to manage the charging themselves. Plus how would you know unless you specifically have equipment to measure the actual capacity of your cell now and then again in a year - but then again that would not work as you have nothing to accurately compare it with - i.e. if you had used the manufacturers charger?
The other big problem is - some people want their phones at 100% when they take them off the charger - with this you could get home and plug your phone in - leave it overnight and find it at 60% the next morning.
"Phones don't run of AC when plugged in and fully charged, they still run off the battery - so the battery is continually cycling from 100% to 90 or 85-odd % and back up when plugged in unnecessarily."
Complete and utter balderdash.
A tiny fraction is still a tiny fraction, even if you scale it up...
"Apparently if all the 70-odd million chargers in use worldwide were swapped out for Green Zeros it would save 47 million tons of carbon dioxide a year."
I'm guessing that as a percentage of my total energy usage, the bit that's wasted by my phone charger is almost unmeasurable.
Let's be nice though and say that it's 0.01% of my annual energy usage.
So, if everyone in the world used one of these devices, we'd save 0.01% of global energy use.
I.E. it's pointless to worry about how much your phone charger uses when you compare it to say central heating, ovens, cars etc. Make changes where they'll have a measurable effect - if you want to make a change.
Oh and with reference to the quote (above) - how much CO2 would be produced making and distributing (and disposing of) 70 million of these chargers?!