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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.



Archive for the ‘Capacitors’ Category

 

Power Save 1200 or similar products

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Jeff,

I came across an add for the Power Save 1200. Electricity flow “cleaner” with a 1K solar panel to connect without batteries. We are on the grid and looking to waste less and minimize our “footprint”. http://www.power-save1200.com/1200.html. They have an assortment of interesting products.

Would like your opinion.

Thank you!

Donna

Donna,

Even if we installed wind and solar equipment for free, no labor charges at all, just the hardware costs for either system would easily exceed many thousands of dollars, so anyone that claims they can do this for $299, tells me there may be more to the story. For example, the web site you referred me to is very interesting as it discusses in detail their solar grid-tie system, but no costs or sizes are given, and a grid-tie wind system, but no costs or sizes are given, then the ad goes into describing this power saving product with a $299 price, as if it included all the solar and wind features that were also listed as if this was all the same product.

Based on the very limited information provided as to how this “black box” can save up to 25% of your home’s utility usage, a figure I highly doubt, it appears to me this is just another capacitor bank with an added whole house surge suppressor. Yes, there are times when large motor or transformer loads on an electrical system can cause the voltage and current to be out of phase more than 90 degrees as required for maximum power conversion. However, I do not know any utility companies that measure this power factor penalty except for large commercial clients since this requires installing a separate power factor meter. It is highly doubtful that even if you had an extreme case of all kinds of motor and transformer loads in your home, odds are this is not being metered or is not enough to cause the type of added savings being claimed by this device. The only time we install equipment like this is for a large retail store with thousands of fluorescent lights, or a large industrial facility with all kinds of large motor loads.

As far as the mentioned benefit for having a surge suppressor, yes this can save your appliances from damage if there is a major voltage surge on the utility line like lightning nearby, but you can buy a whole house surge suppressor at Lowes for about $40.00.

I suggest that you first contact your local utility to see if they even measure power factor on their residential meters, and if they do, ask them what this added utility cost is. If it is not metered by the utility, the only benefit I can see to adding a capacitor bank would be if your power factor was so bad that it was increasing the actual VA metered usage, and for that you would need a whole house-full of motor and ballast loads to realize these kinds of savings.

I say read the small print on anything like this since the basic information being offered before the sale is too limited to actually know what you are buying, how it works, and how they are measuring their very high utility savings. Odds are this sample case is nothing like your home.

Buyer beware,

Jeff Yago

 

Ultra-capacitors

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Dear Jeff,

I’ve read recently about ultra-capacitors which can store and deliver large amounts of energy quickly. Can they be useful in a solar system battery bank? I’m specifically interested in whether large sudden loads degrade the batteries and if these caps can extend battery life.

Thanks,

Ron

Ron:

I may be a little rusty on my electronics, but as I understand it, most of these high-power storage capacitors are used for very fast discharge and slow re-charge applications, and are very large and very expensive. In addition, many of the larger units can store a lethal jolt of electricity for long periods without any electrical connection and must be handled carefully. Think of the capacitors used to charge up the heart stopping jolt they release in a heart defibrillator.

I have seen a few smaller sized projects using a capacitor for power storage to power very low power loads like LED lights overnight, but these have been small applications. Most likely what you are hearing about are applications requiring very fast response times like a computer system UPS power supply to carry the loads for a few seconds until a backup generator can be started and up to speed.

There is lots of research going on in these areas and I am sure we will be seeing some amazing technology in the next few years.

Hope this helps,

Jeff Yago

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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