Scam Opinion by Open4Energy
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The "Energy Wizard" claims to conserve energy through the use of "power factor correction" or what they describe as "helping the electricity rise and fall together". Their weak description of their products capabilities should alert any user to the absurdity of their claims!
It is important that we are clear on the distinction between a product that scams consumers by exaggerated claims of electricity saving through pfc and a product that scams consumers by claiming it does pfc when it does not. We do not understand how a device that plugs in to a circuit can claim the ability to pride pfc to the whole home.
It is also important to understand that the issues we raise are only applicable to home owners. Commercial companies and industrial users do require power factor correction for the improved reliability of their electrical equipment, to save electricity, and to save on their electrical bill.
This article - Trading standards warning over bogus energy saving plugs - says it all!
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is dealing with more than 200 complaints about people who have claimed to be a victim's energy supplier, or working in partnership with them, and are offering a plug-in device costing £99 which they say can save users 40% on energy bills. But trading standards has had a number of the devices tested and found that they not only failed to satisfy electrical safety standards because the pins are too short and the internal connections faulty, but they do not deliver any tangible energy savings.
There is truth in the fact that our homes have devices which consume electricity at lower 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.
When the power factor is less than 100% it means that there is a phase shift between voltage and current. Consumer tariffs are based on Real Power, only the electricity actually consumed by a device. The consumer electrical tariffs include provision for the losses which this "out of phase" might cause the electricity supplier.
It is true that electricity suppliers need to manage their distribution networks, and that power factor IS one of the factors that impacts their distribution losses. It is also true that large industrial users are charged a penalty for a net power factor of less than 85%. But distribution losses will not typically be solved by consumers. They are aggregate issues that can only be solved by the utility companies "the smart grid" in partnership with industry and device manufacturers.
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.
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.
One of the most disheartening aspects of all these scams is the amount of money the perpetrators seem to have for promoting and advertising them. As an open source publisher, dependent on contributions and advertising to pay our way, there is little more frustrating to me than the way Google is being abused to promote these scams. I understand that there is little they can actually do about it, for they are not the internet value police, and imagine how we would feel if they did make value judgments on our content.
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