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The "Residential Zap Box" makes 5 claims on it's web page. The good news is that three of them, in our opinion, are reasonable. The web site invites you to get their FREE guide that includes a promise to explain which residential homes are NOT suitable. The savings claimed at 10 - 15% (they do get in a sly comparison to 40%) and are less outrageous than many.
The idea of "wasted" electricity being saved is based on a misunderstanding of what power factor really is. There are no residential tariffs that include a power factor penalty, and altering power factor does not lower (re demand charges) the calculation of demand in Kw!
Please note that we have no issue with The Zap Box technology and commercial installations. We trust that small businesses have the skills and size of demand (electrical motors etc) to justify investment in power efficiency. There are power factor penalties levied on commercial tariffs, and they are worth eliminating!
For more information we suggest Hearn Engineering "There are many power factor correction gizmos marketed for residential homes. There is no need to provide power factor correction in the residential market, and every product marketed for home use is a scam."
For the technical, here is an experiment by Mike Holt, a qualified electrician who concludes "It is probably correct to say that virtually no residential customer in the US pays a penalty for poor power factor. Thus, power factor correction is of no value to the customer."
It is possible that perfect power factor will allow an electric motor to use less electricity. This is not saving wasted electricity, this is less heat being being made when volts and amps are not in perfect alignment. This does not apply to most new or small motors, especially a fridge. It can apply to an old pool motor or old heat pump. We have a new fridge; power factor is 92%; consumption 154 Watts; annual cost $36.00. I am doing some tests to find what the Watts will be if I correct the PF to 99% - I am almost certain it will NOT change.
There is truth in the fact that our homes have devices which consume electricity at reduced power factors. As an example we know that "CFL light bulbs" have a Power factor of between 55% and 70%, while incandescent light bulbs have a power factor of 100%. All electric motors, including fridges, air conditioners, fans and computers generate reactive power which will affect their power factor.
Based on the above information it could sound logical that a pfc technology would save money for a home owner. But this is NOT a correct conclusion at all. Improving a consumers power factor will mostly save a "negligible" amount of electricity. I have correct my earlier opinion of "NO saving" to "usually negligible" thanks to an informative discussion with the founder of V-Blox Mr David Mulvaney.
I contacted Mr Mulvaney in 2010 regarding his company and allegations being made about him by KVAR. I was curious why they were saying what they did. He said "I want you to know we do not recommend power factor correction in homes and I will be the first to tell you that savings if any would be negligible". I did find all he said to be professional and reasonable related to pf correction in general.
If you are uncertain as to the accuracy of Open4Energy's opinion we suggest you review this study by ScienceDaily - (Dec. 18, 2009) "If you've seen an Internet ad for capacitor-type power factor correction devices, you might be led to believe that using one can save you money on your residential electricity bill. However, a team including specialists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have recently explained why the devices actually provide no savings by discussing the underlying physics".
Power factor and power factor correction are indeed subjects that we should be aware of, but it is "near fraud" when excessively marketed to home owners as a way to save money on their electricity bill. If you are being approached to buy a Satic Global Energy Saver - we suggest you run!
We have an overview on "Power Factor"and the definitions for real power, apparent power and reactive power for those who would like to understand more of the technical details on this topic.
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