Submission by Tim Hawes : So it was a forum post right here on Automated Home that first alerted me to this unit. It’s a 6-way power distribution strip with four independent, remotely controllable sockets and two sockets always on. The real appeal of this unit was that the outlets could be controlled over a LAN, and if they could be controlled on a LAN they can be controlled from anywhere over the internet.
The system had to work when required and while X10 used to be very reliable for me, it has got less so in recent years. GSM-switched sockets seemed a relatively expensive solution once sim card and contract/top-ups were included, and the Energenie one does also monitor current draw and temperature as well as doing the switching.
The LAN Power Management System seemed to fit my needs perfectly – four controllable, independent sockets with status feedback, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, and all for £70. Delivery by courier is included in that price and mine arrive a couple of days after ordering. I had a few questions regarding delivery and the email support was quick, friendly and efficient.
It’s worth noting that there is a very similar product for sale by Energenie (Power Management System, note no “LAN” prefix) which offers similar features but is not the same. This alternative requires a computer to be connected and running if you want to control over the LAN/internet. It still offers similar time based schedules etc. but crucially it does not have an RJ45 socket, just a USB one instead. thus the controlling computer needs to be kept on if you want remote access and control, etc.
Getting back to this LAN version – the box contains the power strip itself, an instruction booklet, software CD and two network cables, 1x straight through and 1x crossover.
The whole strip is rated for a maximum of 2500 watts (10 amps) and has resetable overload protection. The unit also has an internal clock and this can be kept synchronised using NTP servers. As well as enabling you to switch the sockets on and off at will, the unit also offers pre-programmed schedules based on time, or specific events. A neat feature is that the time-based programme also functions when the unit is disconnected from the LAN and the schedule is retained if power is lost.
One of the surprising features of the unit is how quiet the switching is. Anyone that has lived with X10 appliance modules will know that the >Clunk< when they switch over can awaken babies sleeping several streets away, but the Energenie unit is so quiet you can barely hear it. Easily quiet enough for a lounge, although maybe not quiet enough for a bedroom if you want to sleep through the change-overs. All I needed was remote access to the CCTV power switch so I haven’t tried out the other features, however the unit also is capable of:
- Sockets activated by events on your PC (if running Power Manager software)
- Power manager software allows management of multiple PMS-LAN units from single interface
- Simple command line interface available for controlling sockets (requires installation of Power Manager Software)
- An online account to allow you access from any computer (a bit like a private dyndns dynamic IP account)
Within the software/browser interfaces the sockets can be renamed from “socket 1” etc. to something more meaningful, e.g. CCTV, Christmas Lights, Mirror Ball, etc. Status LEDs are present for each socket and these are repeated to the software.
Niggles? Not many and even those are minor. The colour code used by Energenie in the browser is confusing to me. They use red when the socket is active/powered and green when inactive/off. My industrial controls background tells me red is a fault condition, or off, and green is healthy, or active/running. Energenie’s on = red = live = danger is not without logic, it’s just the opposite to what I’m used to.
Configuring with a fixed IP address took a few attempts, however a lot of this was perhaps my impatience. You can reboot the unit to have a default, fixed IP address but it only reverts to that once it has searched for a DHCP server for a minute or two. This caused a bit of head scratching at first but no real problems. To be fair, the instructions do describe this behaviour but I must have glossed-over that bit when first reading them.
Likewise configuring the unit for remote access, although again the port-forwarding confusion was down to me. Energenie’s web service uses port 5000 – once I’d realised I just wanted to access the web browser built into the unit itself and forwarded that port number, all was fine.
The unit is physically a bit big for single-socket applications, e.g. out in the garden as a controller for Christmas lights, as I don’t think it would fit inside the typical waterproof boxes sold in DIY sheds & garden centres.
As mentioned, I haven’t used the supplied PowerManager software but another Automated Home forum user has and reports some issues (see this thread for more info).
In conclusion, it does exactly the job I bought it for, so I am pleased (of course Murphy’s law applied on my recent holiday – the CCTV box behaved itself perfectly and never needed a reset). For £70 delivered, I think the Energenie LAN Power Management System is a bit of a bargain.