RV Electricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Beware of “electricity-saving” and other scams

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By Mike Sokol

Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM.


Dear Readers,
Last week an advertisement for the EcoWatt power saving device magically showed up on a few of my articles. As soon as RVtravel.com staff was alerted about this bogus product it was promptly blocked. We have no real control over what gets inserted at times because Google will stick whatever ads it wants into a webpage where it finds the proper keywords.

In the case of my articles, every one of them mentions electricity, so it was only a matter of time before the Google Bots found my publications. But if you did see one of these EcoWatt ads and wondered if it worked, I can tell you right now it’s a 100% scam and will do nothing to save you any electricity. So here are a few basic rules on how to separate out the beneficial products from the (sometimes) scams auto-inserted by Google into my articles, as well as anything else you read.

“BOGUS FINDER” RULES

Rule #1: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is….

Rule #2: Nicola Tesla was a genius, these guys are not….

Rule #3: TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)….

So let’s take a quick look at a few of these scams and apply the above bogus finder rules.

First up is the EcoWatt power saver that’s supposed to cut your home electric bill by some 90% just by plugging in one of these little boxes in an outlet in your home. And BTW, if you have a big house with an electrical subpanel they tell you to buy two of them. And finally, if you read through enough of the website there’s hints that this may not work right away because it sort of needs to loosen up the electrons … or whatever.

Rule #1: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…

Now, they also say this is due to some power correction effect, and there is indeed power correction capacitors that are installed in large industrial buildings that are running a bunch of electric motors. And what the power company will do is charge these companies an additional power-correction surcharge since it does require larger transformers and wiring than should be necessary. But that’s an EXTRA charge done to an industrial building, and those power correction capacitors are HUGE and cost thousands of dollars. I know because I used to supervise their installations.There is simply no way that a gadget the size of a pack of cigarettes can do anything to correct the power factor. And even if it did, the power company IS NOT charging you for a high power factor in your home. That’s only for industrial buildings with hundreds of motors running at the same time.

Rule #2: Nicola Tesla was a genius, these guys are not…

Let’s say these guys DID invent a super small capacitor that’s 1/1000th of the size of the current technology. Well, they would be selling to the electric vehicle builders for millions/billions of dollars, not the $19.95 each they want to charge you. These guys are not smarter than the thousands of super-intelligent engineers and scientists who are desperate to build electric vehicles.

Rule #3: TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)…

There are many laws in physics that just can’t be broken. So if a gadget promises an increase in performance that suggests a perpetual motion machine, it’s a bunch of hogwash. Remember, I tried to build my own perpetual motion machine when I was 8 years old (really I did), and of course it didn’t work. Now, in my defense, I was 8 years old and hadn’t studied all the laws of thermodynamics just yet. My dad was a history teacher and my mom was a nurse, so there was no help there. But I did blow a few fuses in the house as a lesson in “you can’t get something for nothing.” Anyone that promises you a free lunch for nothing is lying because in science and engineering there is no such thing.

As a final example, let’s consider the magnets you can buy to put on fuel lines to your engine that somehow split up gasoline from hydrogen clusters into dispersed fuel to make it easier to burn and release their energy, thereby increasing your gas mileage by some huge percentage. Again, that gadget fails the Bogus Finder Rules #1, #2 and #3. Do you think for a second that if there was any truth to this at all that every car manufacturer wouldn’t be slapping $1 magnets on all their cars just to increase the rated MPG? It’s just a way to sell you magnets that do nothing.

Hope this helps dispel some bogus myths. Let’s play safe (and smart) out there….

 

 

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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Terrence Courtney
3 months ago

So Mike…What is the difference between the SoftStart RV unit and the Micro-Air Easy Start 364? Is it the SoftStart RV does not have to go thru the 5 X to learn system? Have you had a chance to evaluate the two units side by side? RV Geeks have a You-Tube on the Micro-Air Easy Start 364…What do you think?…TC

Mike Sokol
3 months ago

As far as I can tell, the main difference is that the SoftStartRV has a built-in curve for soft starting current, while the Micro-Air EasyStart does have to learn your air conditioner through a series of 5 starting cycles. My lab space is too small to accommodate more than one air conditioner, and I only have one demo Dometic Penguin to experiment on, so I’ll have to unwire and rewire everything each time for testing. So as soon as I’ve gathered everything I possibly can from the SoftStartRV in a few weeks, I’ll switch over and install the EasyStart for comparison. But right now on paper they seem to have very similar operational characteristics. So it may come down to a Ford/Chevy thing with price and customer service driving the market.

friz
3 months ago

One I question not so much “does it work?” but is it worth anywhere the $250 they want you to pay. That is the Soft Start advertised extensively in this newsletter. It is not a “new technology”. It is a circuitry of capacitors. On a RV forum I read of the same function being performed for about $9 in parts. Skeptical.

Seann Fox
3 months ago

It’s really too bad that we can’t hold Google libel for this sort of thing

ThreeQuarter ton
3 months ago

The B S . Just never quits, does it Mike?! Thanks for keeping us informed and aware !

Robert C
3 months ago

Thank you, Mike. I knew it was a scam the moment I read about it on RV travels. It’s wrong that the lowlifes at Google do this “injection of false advertisement” into anyone’s website that they choose to. Remember: you saw it on the internet. So, use the Internet to check reviews from other sources before you even think of buying something. Those goofballs at OkoNoWatt should sit in a jail cell for a while for stealing people’s money by form of deception. False advertisement! Period!

Wolfe
3 months ago

There ARE simple external devices and methods that trick some meters into measuring lower than true wattage — but they are VERY illegal to employ and utilities will happily prosecute power theives if discovered. NOT worth it.

Fuel magnets: energy is energy… the same chemical energy is present either way, so if magnets COULD do anything, you’d either have to add energy to break the hydrocarbon bonds or waste any released energy as heat AT the magnet. Neither of those is beneficial to mileage.

Edstep
3 months ago

Liquid Swartz. It worked in the Space Balls movie.

Gene Bjerke
3 months ago

I have a great product for boondockers: Quick-frozen Hot Water. Just thaw it out and it is already hot.

MARK GILLEY
3 months ago

I always say inspect what you expect.

Dan
3 months ago

Yeah. I just hate it when my electrons get too tight. It’s such a pain to loosen them by hand.

tom
3 months ago

“There is a sucker born every minute.” P.T. Barmun

STEPHEN P Malochleb
3 months ago

Oh come now Mike. Don’t be so negative. Be positive. You don’t believe in (mechanic in a can), (instant transmission fix), (restore compression), (better fuel economy by 23% in a can). You know with some thought you too could be a millionaire. Just market xtra watts in a can for boondockers.
Pop the top, and boom. 5000 watts of xtra power. You know people will buy it. Keep smiling.Thanks for all the great info.:):)