The switchover to Digital TV was completed earlier this month with Northern Ireland being the final region to switch off its analogue signal at 23.30 on 23 October 2012. Upgraded TV equipment is required in order for analogue televisions to receive digital signals and this is normally done through a set-top box.

Maximum energy usage and eco-design requirements for set-top boxes and other energy using products are regulated through the Energy Using Products Directive (Directive 2009/125) and though product specific EU Regulations. The aim of these measures is to reduce the environmental impact of high volume energy using products.

Set-Top Boxes

Set-top boxes are divided into simple set-top boxes and complex set-top boxes. Simple set-top boxes are stand alone devices with the primary function of converting standard or high definition free to air digital broadcast signals to analogue broadcast signals suitable for analogue television or radio. Simple set-top boxes are differentiated from complex set-top boxes as they offer no 'conditional access' function or recording function based on removable media.

Simple Set-Top Boxes

Simple set-top boxes are the subject of a product specific eco-design regulation, Commission Regulation 107/2009. This Regulation set requirements for the electrical power consumption of simple set-top boxes in standby and active mode. Since 25 February 2012 boxes in standby mode without a display function have been required to have a maximum power consumption of 0.5 watts, for boxes with a display function in standby mode there is an additional allowance of 0.5 watts. All simple set-top boxes are required to have a standby mode and an automatic power down to standby.

Complex Set-Top Boxes

Complex set-top boxes, will generally fall within the standby and off mode eco-design regulation, Commission Regulation 1275/2008. This Regulation applies to a wide range of energy using products including household appliances such as washing machines and cookers, and consumer equipment including radio sets and home theatre systems. From 7 January 2013 products subject to this regulation:

  • have to offer a power management function, unless inappropriate for the intended use, which switches the equipment after the shortest possible period of time to either standby, off, or another low power consumption mode;  
  • unless inappropriate for their intended use, must offer either an off mode, or a standby mode, or another low power consumption mode which does not exceed the power consumption requirements for off mode or standby;
  • Must, in any off mode offered, have a maximum power consumption of 0.5 watts;  
  • Must, in any standby mode offered, without a display function have a maximum power consumption of 0.5 watts, for boxes with a display function there is an additional allowance of 0.5 watts.

Those in the sector whose products fall within the Standby Regulation should confirm now that they are in a position to comply with these more onerous requirements.