Power factor correction

Residential household energy saving devices available in New Zealand incorporating power factor correction. Some vendors also offer commercial units.

Total Saver (by Power Panda)

In mid December 2010 
The Power Panda blog announced a new family of products. One specified use of the new product family is in electric motor applications. The Power Panda Blog advertises savings of 20-45%. In mid January 2011 The Power Panda blog published graphs and a short explanation of operation. Additional application information was published in a mid-January 2011 Total Saver listing on TradeMe.

The Power Panda website has undergone a redesign since August 2011. Content which
advertised savings of 15-40% on your power bill after installing the Total Saver and a sketch of the internal circuit of the Total Saver may now be difficult to find.

The Total Saver Commercial picture on the Power Panda site appears superficially similar to pictures of a product called Power Saver 1200 (and similar products) sold in the United States.

The Total Saver Residential pictures provided by Power Panda on many New Zealand based daily deal sites show a device which has identical markings and layout when compared with the CHT-001C power saving device advertised on many international websites.
The Total Saver Residential does not come with a residential plug and it requires direct installation to the household electrical supply by a registered electrician.

Warning - Please note the CHT-001C product supplied by international websites is shown with a residential power plug - this device might be extremely dangerous
when not plugged in - in a similar way to the Go4Green Energy Smart device below.

Ultra Energy Saving Device

This device does not claim a power correction ability. It claims to operate by aligning electron spin and therefore imparting superconducting properties to ordinary copper wire - the manufacturer calls this the "Ultra Principle".

The New Zealand distributor claims the device creates Cooper Pairs and utilises
the Josephson effect

If this is true the device in part creates superconductivity at room temperature in ordinary copper wire - not very likely.


Room temperature superconductivity is a focus of research internationally. If an unknown manufacturer in Korea had succeeded - the world would be celebrating.

Residential power factor correction and regulatory agencies (International)

Go4Green Energy Smart (New Zealand)

The device was marketed by deal sites in NZ (Groupon & thedeal.co.nz). The device was tested by Consumer Magazine and found to be ineffective and dangerous. It is now prohibited by NZ's electrical safety regulator.

The device retains mains voltage and may shock the user - after being disconnected from the mains. Marketing material claimed the device was "proven to reduce electricity costs by up to 10%". Consumer testing found this to be incorrect. The device did not reduce electricity cost at all.

Important safety warning from Consumer Magazine: "If you have one of these devices, stop using it immediately. Remove it carefully from the wall. Avoid touching the pins, and carefully put it back in its box, or a plastic container. The capacitor will self-discharge in a few days. Because it’s a faulty product, you can claim a full refund from the seller – so get on to it now"

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Australia)

Power saver device withdrawn from sale after ACCC actionBronze Swan / Enersonic Energy Saver. October 2010. 

"From March 2009 to April 2010, Bronze Swan marketed the [Enersonic Energy Saver] device, which plugs into a standard electricity outlet and which purports to reduce the user's electricity consumption. Bronze Swan promoted and sold the Power Saver on its website www.greenpowersaver.com.au, at trade and agricultural shows around Australia and also through its authorised agents. Bronze Swan sold around 2100 devices, each typically costing $139.95".

Federal Court declares consumers misled over Power Saver deviceAuscha Corporation / Enersonic Energy Saver. October 2010.  

"The court declared by consent that Auscha contravened sections 52 and 53(c) of the Act, by representing in promotional material to customers that:
  • by using the [Enersonic] Power Saver, domestic consumers could save up to 24% on their electrical power consumption
  • by using the [Enersonic] Power Saver and saving on their electrical power consumption, domestic consumers would thereby save money, and
  • the [Enersonic] Power Saver was designed and engineered in Australia,
when in fact:
  • the [Enersonic] 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 [Enersonic] Power Saver
  • use of the [Enersonic] 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 [Enersonic] Power Saver, and
  • the [Enersonic] Power Saver was not designed and engineered in Australia"
Note: Silicon Chip Magazine Australia also published a review of the Enersonic Energy Saver.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA)

NIST Team Demystifies Utility of Power Factor Correction Devices
 December 2009.


"One of the important functions of our primer is to remove the mystery of how current from the power line can decrease while at the same time current going to an appliance remains the same,” says Misakian. The nine-page Technical Note explains this result in terms that might interest readers with knowledge of college-level physical sciences. It shows that although the devices[*] can indeed reduce current flow from the power line, it is not just the current flowing from the power line that determines your electric bill, but the product of the power factor and the current. Though current decreases with a power factor correction device, the power factor increases correspondingly, meaning the product of the two remains the same—with or without the device[*]. Because a residential electric bill is proportional to this product, the cost remains unchanged".

Regarding Electric Energy Savings, Power Factors, and Carbon Footprints: A Primer [pdf]. [View online] NIST Technical Note 1654. December 2009.

"Abstract – A short primer is presented which describes the underlying physical theory of certain devices that reduce the current drawn from power distribution lines by improving the power factor of residential electric circuits. A brief discussion is provided of the associated energy savings, change in power factor, and reduction of “carbon footprint.” ".

[Discussion –] "If an energy saving device of the type we have considered[*] is used to increase the power factor, the utility will not have to supply as much current when certain electrical appliances are operated. However, the homeowner’s electric bill will not decrease because, as noted above, the cost is determined in part by the product of current, voltage, and power factor. That is, as the current from the power line is reduced by the introduction of capacitance, the power factor is increased and the product, I x V x PF, remains essentially the same".

Talk

Discussion area for the residential energy saving devices page. No registration needed.

Comments

 08/05/2012 16:48MitchHi there - be keen to have someones feedback

Just had a visit after a cold call from 'energy savers'  trying to flog a box mounted 'near' my circut board that would supposedly save me 15% - 30% on my power bill. Price was originaly quoted at around $1000, but then he offered me a deal for two, and free instalation. There was some explantion about how the motors on my commercial fridges etc mess with the power somehow and the box does bla bla bla and make it all cheaper for me.

They dont have a website and the phone number tracks back to a www.cmautilities.com which looks equally dodgy. the cma utilities website lists powershop as a 'partner' as well as some power company in texas. but the american phone line goes no where. 

is this a scam or a legitimate product?

*background - i own a commercial kitchen and seperate retail in auckland city.
 09/05/2012 08:56Editor [Moderator]I have not heard of that product or company before. Power factor correction for business can be a legitimate product/service.

I assume these people approached your business. Industrial and commercial users only are sometimes charged a power factor penalty and/or have a VA (volts-amps) component in the billing. Power factor correction can reduce this component in some circumstances.

Did these people ask you if you were being charged on this basis?

You will need to call your electricity retailer to find out for certain, if your business is being charged any power factor penalties or KVA demand penalties by the lines network. Contact Energy (for example) have an information sheet about it for business customers:

http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=www.contactenergy.co.nz%2Fweb%2Fpdf%2Fgeneral%2FPowerfactor_v3_200902.pdf

As I understand it, the type and method of any power factor correction actually required for business customers is usually assessed by an electrical engineer based on information from billing and lines networks and the type of equipment you have. It is not always economic.

CMA Utilities appears to be a marketing/telemarketing firm. My guess is CMA's only association with PowerShop is gaining a commission from marketing/telemarketing power plans to consumers.
 16/05/2012 17:12MitchThanks very much for your detailed responce, i'll spend more time finding out if its worth while.

Also seperately wanted to commend you on this fantastic website, i know sometimes these kind of things can be thankless so i thought i'd give you a pat on the back.

Much appreciated.
 16/05/2012 18:39Editor [Moderator]Hey Mitch, glad you find it useful. Please drop back in with your conclusion sometime.
 14/01/2013 22:48AndrewI have purchased one of the earthwise power savers and when I called the energy provider I was informed that they do not work !!!! And the only way to save power is turn appliance off . They also said I would be breaking the law if I had it installed, still waiting for my refund. Do My Solar will get sick of my calls.
 15/01/2013 11:13Editor [Moderator]Hi Andrew, thanks for that info. How long have you been waiting for your refund so far?
 27/01/2013 15:04peterI have installed a total saver in my business and i am getting 18-20% per month saving its great.
the company also leases them as a friend has just started that and is really happy.
Just tho you would like to know

Peter
 18/10/2013 23:16JohnHi,

I have been looking at these "Power Savers" and don't understand how this can work

Yes, by correcting power factor and/or harmonics you can get cheaper power bills IF your power company has a reactive power charge

However, power factor correction will have no effect on your power bill if power factor is not being taken into account by your power company

ie domestic power and smaller commercial/industrial power metering


Have I got this right ?

Any comment/advice

Thanks

John
 20/10/2013 12:55Editor [Moderator]Hi John, That is correct. Residential customers are not charged for low power factor therefore power factor correction will make no difference to the power bill. Which product were you considering and where was it advertised?


Comments