I am attempting to use the Energy Saving feature of this surge protector: http://www.homedepot.com/p/CE-TECH-4-ft-8-Outlet-Energy-Saving-Surge-Protector-HDC804GWH/205893722

Using my laptop as the Master, my issue is that while the laptop is on, the controlled devices switch on and off sporadically. They remain off as expected while the laptop is off.

The sporadic switching can be triggered by user interaction with the laptop (opening an application, etc.), or can occur for no apparent reason. Presumably, the laptop is communicating a variable level of electricity to the surge protector, causing it to malfunction.

My goal is to use the Master to cut power from my devices which otherwise emit charging lights, etc., to maintain a darker room at night, but the Master doesn't have to be the laptop. What commonly owned device(s) would better communicate a steady, optimal electricity level to the surge protector?

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    The power strip is not "malfunctioning", it is responding to varying electrical load. You want not just a steady load, but a load high enough to tell the power strip to turn the other outlets on. A desktop computer would probably do it. Since we don't know what other devices are in your room it's very hard to suggest things... Have you thought of just turning off the switch on the power strip when you want to sleep? Might be more reliable, and certainly would be simpler. – Jamie Hanrahan Jul 8 '17 at 0:09

As @RickBrant said - the issue you are having is that your laptop is too efficient, and the power board is unable to reliably to detect if its on by its power draw.

It would defeat the power-saving purpose of the device, but you could put a double-adapter onto the master socket and have something like a (non LED or high powered LED) lamp on the same outlet as the Laptop so that its power draw is great enough to switch the other devices on.

You might (or might not) also be able to get away with setting your laptops power profile to maximum performance, screen on maximum when connected to power ( and add a challenging screensaver so the CPU is working in the background to render it ) to ensure a more consistent/higher power draw when your laptop is powered by mains. (Also, if you have a spinning disk as opposed to an SSD, see if you can keep it from spinning down when plugged in)

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