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Don’t fall for this power-saving con-trick


THERE is an old adage, ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. It was never truer than today.

A case in point is an electrical device being widely hawked round the internet (and occasionally turning up on TCW’s pages, having been placed there by Google) purporting to reduce electricity bills by ‘up to’ 90 per cent.

Even if it were technically feasible (which it’s not) it would be illegal. Electricity and electricity meters have been around for about a hundred years, and every possible scam has long since been thought of and countered. Electricity meters can’t be fooled.

A pseudo-science explanation is offered as to how the device works. It is 99 per cent nonsense, the remaining 1 per cent serving to honey the lie.

There are two aspects to the lie. The first is power factor. Most of our electricity is generated by rotating machines which automatically produce a ‘sine wave’ which in the UK is repeated fifty times a second. This is cheap and convenient and makes electricity easy to distribute.
Electrical energy used by your home appliances depends on the electrical pressure (voltage) and the electrical current this voltage causes to flow (amperage) The energy used (watts) is the two multiplied together.

If we consider heating equipment, the sine waves of voltage and current are in perfect synchronism. However if we consider an electric motor/other magnetic devices, the current lags behind the voltage due to the magnetic storage effects. The upshot of this is that more current than is necessary has to be delivered, meaning that supply cables have to be larger. This effect can be obviated by the use of capacitors which have an opposite effect. You might find these in obsolete fluorescent light fittings but not in today’s electronic types.

Most electricity about the home is used for heating. The only electric motors you have are vacuum cleaners, washing machines and refrigerator/freezers, all drawing small currents intermittently. Ergo, your power factor is not that bad. Even if it were, nobody’s checking or charging you for it. Electricity supply companies ignore these aspects in the domestic situation because trying to solve it is not economic. Only in large industrial users is any action taken. There is more information here. 

The second part of the lie concerns ‘wave form’.This can be locally distorted if very heavy loads are switched on. But a home doesn’t have any such loads.

You don’t need this ‘electricity saving’ device. Nobody’s charging you for the minuscule amount of extra current drawn, and the device itself uses electricity so it’s in fact increasing your bill.

Run an internet search for ‘power saver scam’ and you will find thousands of reviews on actual makes/suppliers. All are declared to be a scam.

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Harold Armitage
Harold Armitage
Harold Armitage is a retired electrical engineer.

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