"Power Saver" Fraud!

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Every once in awhile I see these things in stores or on TV. "Guaranteeeed" to save you money! Make your motors run cooler, last longer, reduce your electricity bill 15-45% OR MORE!!! ACT NOW!!! SAVE THE PLANET BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!! Bravo Sierra..... The majority of people don't understand electricity much less power factor (PF), AC vs DC power, real vs. imaginary power or even how an electric motor works. The short answer is: Don't ever fall for this! If you want to save energy, follow the old rules:
  • Turn off lights when not in use.
  • Shut the (outside) door to keep the cold or warm air in.
  • Don't stand in front of the 'frig with the door open, trying to decide what your looking for.
  • Turn off the TV when not in use.
  • Buy a more efficient pool pump (if applicable)
  • Seal the ductwork in your house
  • Clean both AirCon evaporator & condensor coils once a year.
If you want to read up more about power factor, this Rod Elliot does an excellent job of explaining it.
Quote:
More and more often lately, we see glowing reports on TV and in the popular press about the latest inventor who's managed to come up with a device that will save you anything from 25 to 35% on your electricity bill. We should not be alarmed (apparently) to discover that most of the 'inventors' of these revolutionary products seem to be uneducated and are unattached to any research arm of a university or similar. Almost all advertised 'power savers' on the Net are a scam - 100% of plug-in 'power savers' are a scam - no exceptions. When people buy these things, they may well be 100% convinced that they are saving money and their bills are lower. There are likely to be three effects that make it appear that they are getting cheaper power. Firstly, there's the well known and documented placebo effect, where the belief is so strong that the user will be utterly convinced that they are saving money - even if the reverse is true. Secondly, having installed the device and wanting to see lower usage, the owner will change usage habits - probably without realising they've done so. Finally, no-one wants to look like a fool, so they'll tell you it works to save face. If it didn't work, they've been taken for a ride and no-one likes to admit they've been scammed.
"There's a Sucker Born Every Minute" - P.T. Barnum Don't be a Sucker!
 
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beaver land EH?
Those devices are out there for quite some time already, and boy! am I not surprised. With all those conspiracy theorists (ma dad included); ill-educated backyard scientists and engineers, etc. there has been a flush of so-called perpetual-motion machine, HHO generator, etc. and electricity saver devices, etc. on the internet (more prevalent on the NA side of the internet). Fact is, in NA, other than some very specific counties (some in Cali, per my research), most residential electrical utility billing does not include Power FActor. Small biz and up (commercial), then you have to equate power factor loss into the equation (utility companies do charge for power factor loss part on commercial operations). Lastly: other than conditional arrogance/ignorance, I'd typically expect well-educated (with strong backgrounds in Physics, Electrical Engineering, etc.) to come along and laugh it out on these kinds of things. Unfortunately, in the world we now live in, most well-educated folks chose to become conditionally-ignorant (lazy?) Q.
 

sleddriver

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They keep popping up, now with the <span style="font-weight: bold">GREEN </span>eco-pitch. While nothing new, there are NEW suckers born every minute.....
 

sleddriver

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I've known about this scam for a few decades myself, but as PT says there are NEW suckers born every minute and now they're new GREEN (clueless) suckers included.
 
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and that's why over-da-counter snake oils that has been around for decades still sell like hotcakes here on this NA continent, with clueless users echoing on the internet every minute, causing quite a bit of stir. buzzwords, etc. sells here on this continent, and so did used-cars salesmen. Q.
 
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Originally Posted By: Quest
Those devices are out there for quite some time already, and boy! am I not surprised. With all those conspiracy theorists (ma dad included); ill-educated backyard scientists and engineers, etc. there has been a flush of so-called perpetual-motion machine, HHO generator, etc. and electricity saver devices, etc. on the internet (more prevalent on the NA side of the internet). Fact is, in NA, other than some very specific counties (some in Cali, per my research), most residential electrical utility billing does not include Power FActor. Small biz and up (commercial), then you have to equate power factor loss into the equation (utility companies do charge for power factor loss part on commercial operations). Lastly: other than conditional arrogance/ignorance, I'd typically expect well-educated (with strong backgrounds in Physics, Electrical Engineering, etc.) to come along and laugh it out on these kinds of things. Unfortunately, in the world we now live in, most well-educated folks chose to become conditionally-ignorant (lazy?) Q.
Perhaps just quiet about it. A fool and his money. smile
 

JHZR2

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Businesses are apparently charged for kVA-hours or given a reactive power surcharge, not kW-h, so the PF can come into play. Residences are not AFAIK. So a switched capacitor circuit that takes you back to a higher PF might make sense for an industrial/commercial entity with a lot of inductive load. But for residential? We only pay for actual load, not apparent power. If we were paying for the 118VA that our 0.85pf 100w load actually took, we might pay closer attention.
 
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This is a little off topic, but I just wanted to tell about my recent experience. I recently installed a hot steam whole house humidifier which pumps hot steam into the ductwork just above the heater section on the furnace. It used a humidistat mounted in the return air duct and controls it to maintain the set humidity. That being said, since having it setup and running, with the same thermostat programming, and very similar outside temps for the last two months, my gas bill actually went down a little bit compared to previous months both this year and last year. The only thing I could think made a difference is the humidifier. Does having more humid air inside the house help maintain heat indoors? or somehow make a difference in heating efficiency?
 

JHZR2

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Originally Posted By: sleddriver
I've known about this scam for a few decades myself, but as PT says there are NEW suckers born every minute and now they're new GREEN (clueless) suckers included.
Who here is actually clueless is dependent upon the following: If youre burning fuel, Are you burning enough for the KVA, or the kW? If you've got a low PF load, then the resultant fuel burn should be higher because the increase in kVAr, either lagging or leading, will increase current, thus increasing generator winding losses, and in-turn, decrease generator efficiency, as well as require greater shaft work. (In practice it may not be observed based upon generation efficiency at higher loads vs lower ones). Thus in my understanding, a generator supporting a 100We, 80PF load must provide somewhere between 100 and 118W of shaft work (which is related to fuel burn) to allow the load to provide 100W of physical work with ~18W of reactive power (which creates I^2R losses that the mechanical system must support with fuel burn. If that's correct, are the green people wanting to reduce consumed fuel and pollution clueless? Or is that knee-jerk commentary? If its not true, then why? One guess I could have is due to the balance of lagging and leading PFs on a three phase circuit. That may play into why residences (fed with split phase) don't get charged for KVA-h, since perhaps all the bad actors get balanced out from phase to phase? That's a question for an EE to answer... I think there is something to be said about I^2R losses due to low PF. In industrial settings, or when averaged all over the giga watts of total fuel consumption, this likely equates to a substantial amount of wasted energy. In practice, the benefit only exists as it saves you money. I suspect that since we in residential applications only pay for watt/watt-hours, the utilities are either balancing it some other way (e.g with the three phase balance I mentioned before, which is likely balanced even more at a generator which might be 12 phases or more), or adding PF to the actual commodity price as part of their pricing scheme.
 

sleddriver

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You're thinking from the power-production side, where PF control is a true science and necessary and an important topic. I'm referring to the rip-off con-artists who are only out to cheat people and make money off them: the ignorant consumer. They'd use the GREEN angle without a second thought, if it would result in more money. IOW, we're coming from two different directions! You're way over-thinking this!
 
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Plugging in a Kill-A-Watt to see what household items do in fact suck down the juice is a nice way to save. Especially when there are loads that aren't used every day but remain plugged in 24/7.
 
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I have a 1200 sq foot house in Texas, that is about ten years old. We did some caulking and some more insulation, also new doors. Electric is 60 dollars pretty much year round, except 120 dollars when it is 105 degrees out during summer. I don't think that leaving a cell phone charger plugged into the wall is going to be worth the money in buying a 30 dollar device such as this. All of my appliances and my AC are energy star rated, whatever that means.
 
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The #1 power consumer in almost every household is the HVAC. The #1 power waster is whatever causes the HVAC to run more often. I have to laugh at the recommendation to clean the indoor coils on your A/C or Heat Pump. I requested that service when my house was new-to-me and 3 different HVAC techs told me it was impossible without a pump-down, an entire teardown and a thousand dollars. When I had a gas furnace added to my Heat Pump to cure its heating inadequacies, curiously the indoor coil was found to be completely clogged with lint. No one diagnosed that despite my many service calls, but they were happy to sabotage my Heat Pump with too much refrigerant and bandaids like starting capacitors. Plus tell me to save my money for a new system, I'd need it soon. Once cleaned, my Heat Pump works GREAT and I only need the gas furnace in weather like, well, this, single digit temps. It's been 10 years since then and it still works great because I don't allow it to be serviced by idiots. So while people are wasting time saving pennies buying energy star appliances, switching off lights or changing out to CFL's, their inefficient, badly installed, clogged, untuned, tract home discount special HVAC unit is burning energy to the tune of thousands of dollars a year.
 
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The indoor coils get dirty. Dirt makes it through the filters and stick to the coils and fins. Here our units are splits. Aside from cleaning the filters monthly, in my office, I have the 10 units pressure cleaned every three months. They tape tarps all over and clean with a pressure washer. It is amazing how much dirt comes out. There is one new thing in the AC business that saves. For my new house I bought Inverter air conditioning units with sensors. The inverters don't drop the temp below what you want and wait for it to get to hot to start again. They start full and as they get to the right temp, the compressor speed varies to keep it just right. And when you leave the room for a while, the sensors raise the temp setting 2 to 4ºF until you come back. They also direct the air to where you are instead of the whole room. Several people come in and it runs faster to compensate.
 
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Our two new splits work in exactly the same fashion. And they were still 'making' heat down to -24 degrees recently. Very efficient inverter units. The gas furnace rarely has to come on. John.
 
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Reminded me of the Los Angeles First Interstate Bank fire in 1988. http://www.equitech.com/articles/enigma.html The level of interference created when a three-phase wye system is split up and used as three single-phase circuits is truly something to behold. For example, as much as 20% (or more) of the power used by fluorescent ballasts is reflected back onto the power grid in the form of reactive or harmonic currents -- now that’s a lot of distortion. In the late 80’s, a 40-plus-story office building in Los Angeles actually burst into flames because of these reactive currents. Incredibly, the origin of the fire was determined to be from excessive harmonic distortion in fluorescent lighting circuits which created a high-frequency current overload and literally a meltdown of the electrical wiring system. The First Interstate Bank fire in Los Angeles in May of 1988 was the event dubbed by the media as "The Towering Inferno" a la the Hollywood movie. Codes were adapted to remedy the fire danger, but the noise problem itself was never completely resolved.
 
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