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22 January 2015
I have already posted about the Energenie wireless remote control sockets. I've now had chance to look through one of their other products - which is an infrared remote control socket. This is a power saving socket allowing a TV and associated equipment to be fully powered off from the mains socket using the normal TV remote. I have seen the sockets before and wondered whether they were actually that easy to use. In particular I wasn't sure how it would be possible to use the same remote control to control both the TV and the power socket. The way it does work is that there is a 10 second delay between the socket being powered on and being able to power it off again (giving time to turn on the TV without inadvertently turning the power back off) and a delay of 10 seconds after the power off is pressed before it cuts power (allowing the TV to shutdown properly). This works great with my bedroom TV setup.
In my bedroom I have a TV and a Raspberry Pi running OSMC with Kodi (formally Raspbmc with XBMC). As standard it is not possible to fully power these off using the remote control, so before I used the Energenie infrared socket these were left powered on after use with the TV often being left in standby when not required. I have now connected these to the Energenie Infrared socket using an extension lead. To power on the TV I use two presses of the on button on the TV remote which powers on the socket and then the TV. At this point power is applied to the Raspberry Pi so that powers on as well. To then shutdown I first choose shutdown from the Kodi menu so that the Raspberry Pi shuts down cleanly then press the power button which turns off the TV and then 10 seconds later the power is turned off at the socket.
As well as making a socket, Energenie have also released a Raspberry Pi add-on that provides a way to receive and send infrared signals. The circuit is fairly simple and details are provided so you could make one yourself, but the Energenie board provides this in a pre-built board (no soldering required) which can be plugged in to the top of the Raspberry Pi.
Setup isn't quite as straight forward as the wireless ones as you need to lookup your infrared remote codes, or enter learn mode to teach LIRC about the remote control. It's fairly easy for most remote controls, although it doesn't work with some media centre remote controls (including these). I believe this is because a kernel module is required which is not included in the standard Raspbian install, I expect this is required to enable the "mouse" support from the remote control. The IR transmitter also needs to be in line-of-site with the sensor for the power socket (fortunately there is a long lead provided to the sensor).
It does however open up a whole world of other opportunities and I will be writing about at least one other use in future.
The infrared socket has been available for a while and is available from a number of suppliers. At the time of writing the infrared controller board is a new item and is only available from a limited number of suppliers. Below are some of the sources I found.
The Energenie infrared remote socket is available from Energenie4U. You may also find it at some electrical or diy stores.
The Energenie IR controller board is available from cpc.farnell.com. Before buying do check whether it's a pi-mote (wireless) or a infrared board for the Raspberry Pi to ensure you purchase the appropriate board.
I am impressed with the Infrared Remote Controlled socket. It provides an easy way power off a TV and accompanying Raspberry Pi, without leaving it on standby and without needing to get out of bed to do so. The Raspberry Pi infrared board also allows this to be controlled using a computer or could be used for control of other infrared devices.
If you are just wanting to control a power supply using the Raspberry Pi then the wireless sockets are easier to use and don't required line-of-sight, but if you want to be able to use it with a standard TV remote control then this works well.
This review is based on an evaluation unit provided by Energenie.