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2011\01\17@024217 by

This device just sold on a NZ auction site for \$600 (about \$450 US)

I put this in EE because the comments and discussion make the
otherwise ludicrous snake oil claims worth thinking about. Doesn't
stop them being snake oil, but worth being able to deal with them.

http://bit.ly/YRPandaPowerSaver

Deep in the Q&A discussion are two interesting comments. I leave the
examination of the validity of these as an exercise for the student:

1. Comment on power factor measurement by home meters
2. Comment on power factor of non-heating domestic load.

________

Copied here.
See website for much more

1.

Q: hey dont the meters on house measure true power? power factor
correction unit like this correct apparent power and will not effect
the reading of the meter. also most househols appliances have pfc
built in theses days cbksmum (1653 )  7:24 pm, Mon 17 Jan

A:  Hi, No the meters on the house do not. The meters just assume you
have true power. It affects you because you use electricity. It's like
a 98 car, you put 91 petrol into it, the car has to work harder, and
you go through more fuel. You are absolutely 100% wrong about most
household appliances having pfc built in. I'm sorry but this just
bollocks

2.
Q:  Hi. I understand your "waves" and "in sync" and you are on the
dollar. And this being a power factor correction device/power
conditioner I understand you will achieve 0.98 PF. (98 % efficency).
What I don't understand is that the power factor of a house would be
about 0.5 or 0.6 as you have quoted in %. Is this assuming everyone
has 2 fridges and a deep freeze and a water pump to drag the PF down?
jayydee (80 )  7:45 pm, Mon 17 Jan

A:  Fridge + heatpump + washing machine + dryer + all the lighting in
most houses does it. Even just lighting and fridge will do it in some
properties. Our face to face agents in the field actually measure the
power factor in the places they sell to. 0.5-0.6 is the most common
range.

_________________

See website above for much more in Q&A

THEY CLAIM:

This auction is for one Power Panda Total Saver.
This is a residential Total Saver and will fit a house with one, two,
or three meters.

This fantastic device will see you save 15-40% on every Power Bill.
This device works with most electrical equipment, fridges, freezers,
anything that chills, washing machines, driers, anything with a motor,
fluorescent lights, energy efficient lights, heat pumps, spa pools,
water pumps, fans, computers, LCD screens, HD televisions.

The only thing it doesn't make more efficient is electric hot water
heating, and most heaters.

How it works is that the electricity coming into your house is highly
inefficient. Your electricity should be a set of smooth waves, but
instead it's a disjointed mishmash. What the Total Power Saver does is
to push this electricity into a smooth wave, a process that makes your
electricity more efficient.

The Total Saver achieves three main things
1) Conversion of electrical spikes into usable electricity.
2) Ensuring that the volts and the amps are in sync so your
currently)
3) Maintains voltage at 240V. (Your electricity is probably at a lower voltage)

This auction is for a cosmetically scratched Total Saver. It still
works fantastically, but as it is scratched we are just selling this
to get rid of it. We've paid for it, we can't sell it at full retail
(\$3500) so we may as well give somebody a bargain. We have tested the
Power Panda Total Saver and it works fantastically
I asked about devices like this last January, and was pointed to this
excellent website by John Coppens
http://www.nlcpr.com/Deceptions1.php

Bill

On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 2:41 AM, RussellMc <apptechnzgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>
> This fantastic device will see you save 15-40% on every Power Bill

What annoys me more than the sellers is the apparent disinterest
shown by people who are meant to protect the public

A few years ago a big chain was promoting a magnetic fuel saver
for vehicles. I had some discussion with the government agencies,
Consumer Commission and Consumer Affairs (who I felt were
trying hard to make it the other one's responsibility). The upshot
was that the best they said they could was 'monitor the issue'.
When I asked what the heck that meant, they said "well if we
get any complaints we'll look into it"

Excuse me, I didn't buy one but I can still complain can't I ? Even
showing them that the only tests conducted showed they didn't
work couldn't sway them

The problem with so many of these things is that phrase which
should set off alarm bells - "Or your money back"

Generally, 'money back' is legislated. If someone feels they also
have to include it in advertising then you should think that something
is either a bit suspect or the product will only work under (often
nebulous) conditions

Such as weight loss/exercise machines. "Lose up to 10lbs in two
weeks or your money back". 1oz is "up to" 10lbs. Money back ?

That was pretty much CC's and CA's excuse for not getting out
of a warm chair. "Money back guarantee". So if it doesn't live up
to expectations, you're no worse off

But is that really the point ? Many people would just write off the
expense, especially a small one, and not get their money back. More
fool them. So the seller has still profited from a poor product

In the case of the Power Panda, the seller could argue that if the
power bill didn't go down you must have changed your electrical
useage habits, and that leads you down the track of somehow
trying to prove you didn't. Historic power bills will help but there's
the likelihood of unproveables being dragged into the dispute. The
best you might hope for is adverse publicity

I'm sure the longer it takes for the product to "prove" itself, the
less chance there is of a consumer bothering to go after a refund

It isn't always so black and white

"If this black paint doesn't turn your house sparkling white, we
guarantee a full refund". But you'd be stupid to buy it in the first
place. It's just a waste of time

I've heard the Power Panda advertised on the radio on and off
during 2010, as a 'call out' and emailed the host to point out my
concerns. I've not heard it mentioned on air for a while though,
for whatever reason. I'd like to think I had some effect

boxes. For some reason the voice-over includes something along
the lines "and if *THIS* decoder breaks down, Sky will replace
it"

Er, yes, you will. Like you have to replace all the other models
that blow their PSUs after a power-cut, the ones whose buttons
break, ignore the remote, over-heat .......

It's a nutty old world innit ?

Jo
On Tue, 2011-01-18 at 09:58 +1300, IVP wrote:
> > This fantastic device will see you save 15-40% on every Power Bill
>
> What annoys me more than the sellers is the apparent disinterest
> shown by people who are meant to protect the public

This might be getting a little too political for some, but I did want to
add my \$0.02, if only to stir up some healthy debate:

I personally take the position of "less government is better", although
I often read that as "less babysitting is better".

Sure, this product clearly doesn't do what's claimed to those in the
know. But where does personal responsibility start? Why is it
unreasonable to think a consumer should research something before they
buy it? Why do so many members of the public simply say "the government
should control this sort of stuff". What sort of stuff? What about
"magnetic bracelets"? What about homeopathic "medicine"? Fortune
tellers? The lottery? Where should the government stop controlling stuff
and let the consumer take responsibility for what they buy?

I guees I can accept the government enforcing ad standards (stopping
blatant lies in advertising), but even there I often see things going
too far.

I guess what I'm saying is this: consumers should NOT rely on the
"authorities" to control what products they can buy, they should do
their own research and make their own decisions.

TTYL
On 17/01/2011 20:58, IVP wrote:
{Quote hidden}

I wonder how much money goes into snake oil fuelled stuff per annum. Take the audiophile market for example...  a significant portion based on (public ignorance - cash) = easy money...

I noted this Q and A from the page in question:

Q:
So I guess you would be happy to refund if the savings you are stating are not achieved?
Thanks
A:
provided you can guarantee your power usage has not changed we most certainly are.

Another clue is that domestic power bills (mine at the very least) are for units of power in kWh, which is real/true power. If power factor were part of the equation then I presume the units would be kVAh. Perhaps not entirely correct - from my student days I seem to recall being told that industrial electricity users were charged higher rates if their current usage went over set limits in peak times - hence the benefit of power factor correction.

An actual power factor correction device for a changing load (typical household) would need to make adjustments as load power factor varies - which seems not to be the case with the power panda total saver if the diagram on their web site is anything to go by.

Q. you seem to have a lot of pictures of the stickers, are these what helps stabilise electrical currents?
Also on their web site is a device for saving power with electric hot water heaters (NZ\$479). They say heater element turns on and off to maintain setpoint temperature in cylinder - true. They say resistance of heater element is near zero at switch on (not true) implying an inrush of current hence power savings are possible if this were controlled (therefore also not true). In reality there is no doubt the resistance if the element will change with temperature by some percent, but the nice thing about a heater element is that being a predominantly resistive load practically all the electrical power you put into it is turned into heat, even if it's more or less than the nominal power rating of the element, that just heats the water which is what it's supposed to do. Also, domestic hot water is typically (here) on a separate meter, and likewise it is measured in kWh not kVAh so there is no room for power factor arguments.

As an aside - I recently upgraded my hot water cylinder. My old one had a 1kW element, the new larger cylinder came with a 3kW one. I checked the wiring voltage drop from element to switchboard with the 1kW element, and determined that with the 3kW element I would be looking at a 4% drop (5% allowed). That would have been 120W I2R losses in the wiring (heating my house, not the water). I split the difference and used a 2kW element, about 50W loss which seemed more acceptable.

On 17 Jan 2011 at 11:22, William Couture wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> > --
> Sure, this product clearly doesn't do what's claimed to those in
> the know. But where does personal responsibility start?

Herbert, I agree with what you said

However, there are agencies who are charged with looking out for
and protecting the consumer

Human nature being what it is, you can't assume that consumers
will take resposibility for buying what they probably shouldn't or
that the deluded and the scoundrels take responsibility for what
they try to sell

> Where should the government stop controlling stuff and let the
> consumer take responsibility for what they buy?

You'd want electrical goods and medicines to be safe wouldn't
you ? There has to be some degree of consumer confidence so
that you don't need to spend all day thinking about, researching

I'm sure the vast majority of us here are responsible and don't
intentionally do a poor job or make a dangerous or half-assed
product

If you take responsibility for purchasing a product that doesn't
or can't live up to claims, then it is also your responsibility to
make sure that you do something about it. Ideally that should
lead to the product being improved, recalled or withdrawn

Joe
> Sure, this product clearly doesn't do what's claimed to those in the
> know. But where does personal responsibility start? Why is it
> unreasonable to think a consumer should research something before they

The claims being made here are blatantly untrue on several counts BUT
it would take a substantial amount of techmnical understanding to be
sure of finding the truth. Note that people with
random-electrical-certifcate 101 1st year are weighing in here and
saying that the principle is sound.

The seller claims that household meters do not account for power
factor. If you have no idea what power factor is there is no reason to
need to know for such claims to be illegal if incorrect and used for
selling snake oil.

The seller claims that said power factor measured by their agents [tm]
at customers houses was in the order of 0.5 (my wording). As above
applies.

WHAT ABOUT MAGNETIC BRACELETS !!!!! ?
:-(.
People here sell a combination wool underlay for beds 9which may work
quite well for all I know) plus it has magnets in it so it is named
"Woolrest Biomag". Has testimonials from famous people who should know
better and who help them exploit the gullible marks. Many satisfied
customers. Much \$s made. Double blind crossover may be in their vocab
but, if it is, they would be sure to keep it locked tightly away.

How to deal with all such?
At a minimum, require technical claims of merit to pass a broad
factual filter if people who cannot reasonably be expected to be
Have good information available at a known source for products which
pass the broad hurdle but have about zero chance of working. S sort of
Snopes for advertising claims. People would get used to being able to
check such a site.

If it violates more than 1 "law of physics" it goes on the site with
no redress until the advertiser gets the law in question repealed.

etc

On Tue, 2011-01-18 at 10:43 +1300, IVP wrote:
> > Sure, this product clearly doesn't do what's claimed to those in
> > the know. But where does personal responsibility start?
>
> Human nature being what it is, you can't assume that consumers
> will take resposibility for buying what they probably shouldn't or
> that the deluded and the scoundrels take responsibility for what
> they try to sell

Agreed, I can't, and don't assume that consumers will always research
properly. But let my retort be: why should MY MONEY be used for helping
consumers that don't do due diligence? These government agencies are
using MY money to help people who are sometimes (not always) too lazy to
do their own research. Why should I be paying to babysit these
consumers?

> > Where should the government stop controlling stuff and let the
> > consumer take responsibility for what they buy?
>
> You'd want electrical goods and medicines to be safe wouldn't
> you ? There has to be some degree of consumer confidence so
> that you don't need to spend all day thinking about, researching
> and scrutinising every purchasing decision

Agreed, in the case where SAFETY is at issue I want a watchdog keeping
an eye over things. But for things where safety CLEARLY isn't a factor:
should my tax dollars go to that?

> If you take responsibility for purchasing a product that doesn't
> or can't live up to claims, then it is also your responsibility to
> make sure that you do something about it.
Really? I don't see why? Yes, it's generally good for society to do
that, but I don't see why that "should" be your responsibility.

> Ideally that should
> lead to the product being improved, recalled or withdrawn

Fine, but again, where does it end? Why are my tax dollars used to
"protect" people from doing dumb things?

I'm being devils advocate here, I don't personally believe things are as
black and white as I'm stating here, but I think it's good to keep aware
that nothing is free, and this "protection" that government does costs
us money.

TTYL
> Q:
> So I guess you would be happy to refund if the savings you are stating
> are not achieved?
> Thanks
> A:
> provided you can guarantee your power usage has not changed we
> most certainly are

So you would be advised to ask what proof they want BEFORE you
buy one. Do they accept just power bills as 'usage' or are they talking

Even weather could be dragged in to the equation. Air-conditioning, fan
heaters, fridges consumption etc will probably not be exactly the same
year to year

At the lower end of savings, 15% is a big difference. There is a placebo
effect. Trying to prove that this expensive product works could possibly
make you think about the amount of power you use and how you can
reduce it, so it becomes self-fulfilling. Same argument as I was given
fuel is saved. That's a good thing isn't it ? Well, yes, but that draws a
fuzzy psychological line. Can the seller then not argue that his product
did actually cause the power bill to go down, even if not for technical
reasons

It's a very grey area

Jo
On Tue, 2011-01-18 at 10:47 +1300, RussellMc wrote:
> > Sure, this product clearly doesn't do what's claimed to those in the
> > know. But where does personal responsibility start? Why is it
> > unreasonable to think a consumer should research something before they
>
> The claims being made here are blatantly untrue on several counts BUT
> it would take a substantial amount of techmnical understanding to be
> sure of finding the truth.
No Russell. It would take a 10 second google search to determine this
product doesn't work. No technical knowledge required.

When I'm considering a product I don't for one second rely exclusively
on the claims the marketing material has. IMHO, anyone who does so
deserves to be fleeced once in a while.

TTYL

On Mon, 17 Jan 2011 17:02:18 -0500, "Herbert Graf" said:

> No Russell. It would take a 10 second google search to determine this
> product doesn't work. No technical knowledge required.
>
> When I'm considering a product I don't for one second rely exclusively
> on the claims the marketing material has. IMHO, anyone who does so
> deserves to be fleeced once in a while.

For a second, I thought the product you were talking about was Microsoft
Windows :)

Bob

-- http://www.fastmail.fm - Same, same, but different...
Brent Brown wrote:
> As an aside - I recently upgraded my hot water cylinder. My old one
> element, the new larger cylinder came with a 3kW one. I checked the
> wiring voltage
> drop from element to switchboard with the 1kW element, and determined
> that with
> the 3kW element I would be looking at a 4% drop (5% allowed). That
> would have
> been 120W I2R losses in the wiring (heating my house, not the water).
> I split the
> difference and used a 2kW element, about 50W loss which seemed more
> acceptable.

Or you could have run another wire parallel to the existing one and cut the
dissipation by 2, or 60W, more if you used fatter wire than the original.

This Power Panda scam has me wondering who might be behind it.  Power factor
and out of phase current is real and cause inefficiencies in the system, but
you aren't charged for those.  As far as I know around here, and certainly
it's true for my house, the meter measures real delivered power.

However, your house having a near unity power factor is of benefit, not to
you but to the power company.  I expect they'd be very pleased if everyone
installed a Power Panda, assuming it really is a big power factor correction
unit.  So it's the large electric utilities that have something to gain from
this scam.

********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000

On Mon, 17 Jan 2011 20:41:36 +1300, "RussellMc" said:

> I put this in EE because the comments and discussion make the
> otherwise ludicrous snake oil claims worth thinking about.

Uhh, good luck with it staying EE for even one interation.

Cheers,

Bob

-- http://www.fastmail.fm - A fast, anti-spam email service.
If people were responsible for their purchasing decisions they would be more
diligent in there buying;  caveat emptor...

{Original Message removed}
On 17/01/2011 21:16, Herbert Graf wrote:
> I personally take the position of "less government is better", although
> I often read that as "less babysitting is better".
>

I lean towards this side also, the babysitting part certainly...

{Quote hidden}

I guess it's like most of life, some sort of balance is needed...
I think extremes are usually to be avoided, i.e. either no standards, or unachievable rigidly enforced standards.
It's possible that where it's at is about as good as it gets  (which probably says more about how human beings work than their systems..  :-)  )

> I guess what I'm saying is this: consumers should NOT rely on the
> "authorities" to control what products they can buy, they should do
> their own research and make their own decisions.
>

Again, balance needed I think - for instance I think it would be good to be able to (some reasonable extent) rely on (possibly life preserving/extending) medical (and other "important") products.
Also, I do care about others and don't mind them spending a little of my money to help those who may not know (maybe never got the chance to know) any better.
This kind of subject has so many perspectives, with very little to pin down firmly...
(i.e. moves very slowly - philosophers are still arguing about the same problems they were back in Platos day... just give them different names from time to time... :-)  )
>> If you take responsibility for purchasing a product that doesn't
>> or can't live up to claims, then it is also your responsibility to
>> make sure that you do something about it.
>
> Really? I don't see why? Yes, it's generally good for society to
> do that, but I don't see why that "should" be your responsibility

I say that because if you don't speak up, nothing changes. There
are times when those at the top don't know what's going on below
them (bad service for example) and it is in the company's general
interest to deliver what customers expect. There will be times when
those at the top know exactly what's going but it is in the company
interest NOT to fix it. Then I think you need a higher authority

I recently had the case of telling a company that their web site was
broken because it didn't accept '.'. Looking for 3.3V regulators and
4096V". So I dropped them an email and it was soon fixed. If I hadn't,
they may have lost business until someone else pointed it out

It's happened several times with products. I've mentioned to a
retailer or whatever that something isn't right with a product and
they've said "Oh, you're the first one to tell us about that". So why
didn't anyone else come forward ?

They say it's an average world. I like to think I do my bit to make
it a least a little above average. You don't *have* to speak up of
course but often it's little effort to do so

>> Ideally that should lead to the product being improved, recalled
>> or withdrawn
>
> Fine, but again, where does it end? Why are my tax dollars used
> to "protect" people from doing dumb things?

I do appreciate your sentiments. OTOH, as Russell said, you would
have to pretty well informed to question the claims of a technical
product like the Power Panda

People do dumb things which are against the criminal code, and
tax dollars are spent to prevent anarchy on the streets. Admitedly
probably more money is spent after the fact. eg it's well-known
that alcohol cause drunkeness, so do we really need much more
education about that ? People still tie up costly hospital and police
resources when they get absolutely bladdered en masse on Friday
and Saturday nights

So is it such a stretch to accept that some tax dollars be used to
prevent commercial anarchy ?

Jo
On 17 Jan 2011 at 17:09, Olin Lathrop wrote:
> Brent Brown wrote:
> > As an aside - I recently upgraded my hot water cylinder. My old one
> > element, the new larger cylinder came with a 3kW one. I checked the
> > wiring voltage
> > drop from element to switchboard with the 1kW element, and determined
> > that with
> > the 3kW element I would be looking at a 4% drop (5% allowed). That
> > would have
> > been 120W I2R losses in the wiring (heating my house, not the water).
> > I split the
> > difference and used a 2kW element, about 50W loss which seemed more
> > acceptable.
>
> Or you could have run another wire parallel to the existing one and cut the
> dissipation by 2, or 60W, more if you used fatter wire than the original.

True. Didn't do that because of effort and cost involved.

{Quote hidden}

I'm not so sure what it really is given the diagram at this link:

http://www.thepowerpanda.com/technical-explanation-of-total-saver.html

Another aside, but keeping it EE and about power factor correction:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otahuhu_Power_Station

"The generators remain in use in synchronous compensate duty, providing reactive power to the grid." - Effectively a whole power station dedicated to the power factor correction of New Zealands largest city, Auckland.

-- Brent Brown, Electronic Design Solutions
16 English Street, St Andrews,
Hamilton 3200, New Zealand
Ph: +64 7 849 0069
Fax: +64 7 849 0071
Cell: +64 27 433 4069
eMail:  brent.brownclear.net.nz
On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 6:24 PM, Brent Brown <brent.brownclear.net.nz> wrote:
> I'm not so sure what it really is given the diagram at this link:
>
> http://www.thepowerpanda.com/technical-explanation-of-total-saver.html
>

Wow! If you are trying to sell something, you'd think you could manage
something a bit more than a hand-scrawled diagram. Also, it strikes me
that whoever wrote the text has little idea of electrical theory, or
at least little command of how it is usually expressed in language,
making statements like "the coils match the volts and amps back up.
Sean Breheny wrote:
> Also, it strikes me
> that whoever wrote the text has little idea of electrical theory, or
> at least little command of how it is usually expressed in language,
> making statements like "the coils match the volts and amps back up."

I took it to mean that someone there knows exactly what's going on, with the
diagram and writeup meant to make it look like a layman stumbled accross
this great invention despite naysayers with PHds and active suppression by
the evil government-industrial complex, with all this intended to be
swallowed by people with far more money than brains.

It's kindof like the same philosophy as many commercials where they
deliberately wiggle the camera to make it look home made, which I guess is
supposed to make it more believable somehow.  Yeah, right.  It just becomes
annoying to look at.

********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000
Amen! (or does that make it religious as well as political? ;)

Nowhere has anyone brought up the concept that if you didn't know you
needed it, or don't understand what it does or why, then MAYBE you DON'T
need it or it isn't for you....

It's my observation that there is too much "gotta have that", whatever
it is. We used to call that "money burning a hole in your pocket".

Perhaps it's fallout from the development of the PC, et al. No one wants
to be left behind. I see it a lot in the financial area. All you have to
do is say something like "imagine if you invested in Microsoft in the
'80s". "This is the next BIG thing".... Everyone wants to get rich
quick, without having to invest any thinking...

I work with a lot of venture capitalists. You won't see them jump in
without due diligence, and they get propositioned more than most. THEY
do their homework before buying anything, even personally, yet none are
technical people. They research, study, sniff, ask around, THEN decide
if there is merit. No heavy lifting, no PhD required. Just using your
brain!

And if you still can't decide, leave it be. It'll be there tomorrow if
new info comes to light...

Consumer behavior makes lemmings look like geniuses sometimes...

On Mon, 2011-01-17 at 16:16 -0500, Herbert Graf wrote:

> I guess what I'm saying is this: consumers should NOT rely on the
> "authorities" to control what products they can buy, they should do
> their own research and make their own decisions.
>
> TTYL
>
On 17/01/2011 22:00, IVP wrote:
>> Q:
>> >  So I guess you would be happy to refund if the savings you are stating
>> >  are not achieved?
>> >  Thanks
>> >  A:
>> >  provided you can guarantee your power usage has not changed we
>> >  most certainly are
> So you would be advised to ask what proof they want BEFORE you
> buy one. Do they accept just power bills as 'usage' or are they talking