The local free magazine had the local PoolMart pushing a GO4GREEN EnergySmart device with promises that it will save you up to 10% on your power bills. I had hoped that after the Earthwise PowerSavers device promoted by A Current Affair (ACA) and Today Tonight in January 2011 was exposed as being unable to meet any of it’s claims that the sale of these devices would drop off but it seems there are plenty of people willing to hand over good money for snake oil.
A Current Affair removed their promotion of the device from their website soon afterwards they were presented with evidence it was a scam however by that time plenty of people had purchased the $895 box that promised power savings of up to 25% whereas Today Tonight has left it’s information on their website.
To understand why these devices don’t work you need to understand there are two ways that power is billed, Real power and Apparent power.
This is how households and small businesses (under ~$30K power spend per year) are billed and it’s based on the amount of watts (W) consumed (true power).
This is how businesses (above ~$30K power spend per year) and factories are generally billed and it’s based on volt-amperes (VA) drawn.
Power factor is defined as Real Power divided by Apparent Power.
A circuit that consists of resistive loads such as incandescent/halogen bulbs, ovens and bar heaters will have a power factor of 1.0 whereas circuits containing inductive or capacitive elements such as electric motors and florescent ballasts which have a power factor of less then 1.0.
When these devices are being demonstrated they will usually use a wireless power meters that work by placing a clamp around the active conductor and measure Apparent Power not Real Power hence why when they demonstrate with an inductive load like an electric motor power “savings” are seen as the Power Factor is around .8 to .9. If the same test were performed by using an incandescent or halogen bulbs no saving will be seen as it’s Power Factor will be 1.0.
Essentially Power Factor is something that only matters if you are being billed for Apparent Power, these power saving devices are targeted at households where they make no difference to the size of the power bill and they are promoted through misleading methods including the use of wireless power meters that measure Apparent power.
This is a photo of the inside of a typical plug in power saver, they all work on the same principle which is a AC capacitor, a few components and a LED or two for looks (and to consume power so not only did you pay for something that doesn’t work it actually costs you money to have it plugged in). Cost to manufacture these devices would vary between $5 to $20 and they retail for $149 to over $1000, hence why so many people are willing to sell these as they are so profitable.
The EnergySmart is being sold for between $149 and $299 by the following retailers; Poolmart Kenmore, iintegrate technology
Sells for $895 (installed up to $1500)
Claims to also protect you from cancer (electromagnetic radiation) and has a reference from Panacea University (not recognised as a university).
Mark Maxwell said a number of times it’s capacitor based and works like a battery to save you power. All the excess electricity coming through is stored until required and it’s released, most of the devices use far too much power when they don’t need it and this capacitor based power saver stores a bit of that and this is where the power savings come from – video HIA Home Show Sydney 2011.
Earthwise Power Savers Save Electricity Dirty Electricity = Harmful EMF and Facts (ok not real facts)
No longer for sale – Choice awarded this with their Shonky Award of 2009.
Enersonic Power Saver
Sold by Auscha Corporation – ACCC took them to court and they were ordered to stop selling – sell ACCC action below.
The ACCC has taken action against a number of sellers of these devices, the most recent was action taken against Auscha Corporation Pty Ltd in July 2010 for it’s activities in 2008 and 2009 selling a power saving product. As you can see the ACCC is slow to act so don’t think that lack of action against any current sellers in any way legitimises their products.
- the Power Saver was not capable of reducing the amount of electrical power consumed by domestic consumers as measured by retail electricity suppliers, and therefore domestic consumers could not save up to 24% on their electrical power consumption by using the Power Saver
- use of the Power Saver could not lead to domestic consumers saving on their electrical power consumption as measured by retail electricity suppliers, and therefore domestic consumers could not save money by using the Power Saver, and
- the Power Saver was not designed and engineered in Australia.
Read the full release at the ACCC website – Federal Court declares consumers misled over Power Saver device
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a number of reports that debunk these devices are saving any money.