VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby Benny » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:23 pm

Thanks for posting your opinions PES but I'm afraid I still don't agree with much of what you say.
I think everyone technically minded here will appreciate that lowering the supply voltage will generally decrease the power use of most appliances, especially resistive appliances but in reducing the supplied power it will also reduce the functionality of the appliances. I'm glad you have acknowledged that thermostatically controlled devices will not see any benefit but then you include in your list of your appliances (that will increase your benefit)...
fridges - thermostatically controlled coolers - so will see no benefit,
gas stove and gas hot water - how do you get a benefit from VO ?
pool pump - less power means lower water flow rate ? So you need to run it longer ? If the pool is still clean then why not just run it for less time ?
clothes dryer - less power = less heating = longer to dry the clothes. OK if someone runs their dryer on a time clock then it will use less energy with VO but if you just run the dryer until the clothes are dry then VO will give no saving. Same argument applies to heated towel rails, radiators, electric blankets. I think when you tell people that these devices will use less power you need to be upfront and also tell them they will give out less heat as well.
fans - less power means less air moved ?
TV's/radios - with ac-dc voltage regulation ? - as for a PC no change with VO.

You also mention incandescent globes - wouldn't you get a much higher energy saving at a lower price by swapping these for LED/CFL ?

I'm afraid that most people on this forum are here because they have an interest in reducing energy wastage - which generally means not using clothes dryers, electric radiators, incandescent globes etc. Perhaps if the VO / Vphase unit was called a voltage reducer it would not sound so much like a scam. And as you mention yourself, there are many wild claims out there which is what draws people here to call it a scam. Perhaps if the manufacturers insisted that anyone selling the units do not make such claims there wouldn't be such negative opinion.
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby PES » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:55 pm

Hi Benny,

You might be surprised at how much power can be saved by sensible voltage reduction even with things like fans, fridges, pumps, etc. Output is not always linear with voltage. Think of it this way: if you have a fan running full-tilt and you increase the voltage by 10%, would you expect to get a further 10% airflow? If you did, you'd possibly be disappointed. Fans in (for example) ducted heating systems are often limited by back-pressure from the ducts. Non-linearity means you can get benefits from reduction in some circumstances.

Similarly, pool pump throughput is often limited by filter back-pressure. Same deal.

Heated towel-rails, electric blankets, etc. are often just left to run a fixed time. So there's a real benefit there.

But don't take my opinion for it. Check out the result when the advertising standards people in the UK looked into this: http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/10/Vphase-Smart-Energy-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_199230.aspx.

There are ways to get point savings where you'll get bigger savings than with a VPhase. Take out a light globe and put in a skylight. Install timers on lighting. Improve insulation. Turn off un-necessary lights. The list goes on. But the appeal of the VPhase (and similar devices) is that they give a whole-house (or close to it) saving with a simple installation and no behavioural change. I'm with you on not using clothes driers, etc. But there's a large proportion of the population that doesn't find behavioural charge easy (or in some cases, even possible) and for them a "no change required" solution is appealing.

And, to be fair, the question of whether there's a better point solution to a point problem is nothing to do with whether VO or the VPhase is legitimate. There are, for example, lots of reasons why micro-hydro is better than solar (if your site is suitable). That doesn't make solar a scam and it doesn't mean it's not legitimate.

As to the name, the VPhase couldn't be called a voltage reducer because that's not what it is. (If your supply voltage is under 220V it won't reduce it!) If you don't like the name, sorry.

Lastly, the wild claims are something we all hate, which is one of the reasons for the post - we have all the rules in the world, but once a wild claim is out, it gets a life of its own. Part of the purpose in these postings is to address the wild claims with some facts.

But remember the wild claims come from both sides of this debate. The whole "it's a scam" thing is pretty much a wild claim, and I hope that's clear, too.
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby Tracker » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:28 pm

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I must state that I really don't know why I am replying, as it does not warrant the effort..

PES wrote:Heated towel-rails, electric blankets, etc. are often just left to run a fixed time. So there's a real benefit there.

Did you not previously declare that the VO will make no real difference to resistive loads, provided that one accepts that at lower voltage it will just not heat as much, in the same way as an incandescent bulb will "Benefit" by not being as bright..... Who, amongst the brain dead, leaves their heating devices running 24/7, and then claims they are helping the environment, by the use of a VPhase.. :|

I suspect that the suggestion that lowering the voltage, increases the current, is factual but not attributable directly to Mr. Ohm.. The current WILL increase, but in TIME and not absolute value..

Being realistic, given all that has been said, the only deciding factor is the COST of the device.. Given the limitations, as to what it won't make a difference to, how long will it take to recoup the cost of the device..

Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware - If you are silly enough to think it WILL help, then you can afford the silly thing and you will feel good as an owner..
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby PES » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:19 pm

Did you not previously declare that the VO will make no real difference to resistive loads


No. Not at all. I said "For the record, no VO solution will help with a thermostatically-controlled resistive load". Those two words "thermostatically-controlled" make a big difference.

I suspect that the suggestion that lowering the voltage, increases the current, is factual but not attributable directly to Mr. Ohm.. The current WILL increase, but in TIME and not absolute value.


In an ohmic load, dropping the voltage drops the current. Time has nothing to do with it.

But you are right in saying the issue is payoff. If you can install it and it will pay for itself in (say) four-five years, then some people will say "That's worthwhile" and some people will say "Not worth it".

I put solar hot water on my house and it took seven years to pay for itself. Still glad I did it, though.
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby Tracker » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:27 pm

PES wrote:In an ohmic load, dropping the voltage drops the current. Time has nothing to do with it.


Oh yes it does P=VIT.. So if you have to heat to a set amount, then the current will flow for LONGER in TIME..
That is the current I am referring to..

Anyway - What's one of these things worth..?
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby PES » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:14 pm

Oh yes it does P=VIT.. So if you have to heat to a set amount, then the current will flow for LONGER in TIME..


OK, if you really insist, let's get technical (a bit).

You're getting confused. It's P = IV. No "T" involved.

Power over time is Energy (measured in Joules).

And if you have to do a certain amount of work (like boil a kettle) then you're 100% right - lower voltage -> less power -> more time -> same energy. And that's precisely why we don't even recommend that people connect their electric hot water or stove (both thermostatically-controlled resistive loads) to the VPhase - no point.

But the reality is that most of the power use in a home is not thermostatically-controlled resistive loads. And most of it is not switched-mode PSUs like in laptops. Most of it is lighting and refrigeration and heating/cooling and hot water.

Now in my place (and my place is not typical, but it's not that unusual, either) you'd be surprised by how much of my hot water and heating is thermostatically-controlled resistive loads. Let me cut through the suspense and tell you: 0%. Because it's solar/gas hot water (with electric pumping only) and gas ducted heating with electric fan.

So things aren't always what they appear.

To answer your question, the cost of a VPhase depends on the installation (has to be installed by a sparky), but as a ballpark figure, around $1,000, plus or minus. For most people it's paid for in the fourth or fifth year.

Hope that helps.
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby Tracker » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:24 pm

PES wrote:You're getting confused. It's P = IV. No "T" involved.

Well it is when you pay the bill in KwH usage..

OK - So I will save a packet on lighting with my CFL lamps.. That will make a difference.. ;)

PS... ""incandescent globes"" -- Are you aware they are near illegal now..?
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby Benny » Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:01 pm

Steady on tracker - you have made a mistake there, power is P = VI - no 't' involved as PES says.
V*I*t = energy (in kWh) - not power. You pay for energy used, not power, even if many people still refer to it as a power bill.

I must take issue with your comment PES .....
"But the reality is that most of the power use in a home is not thermostatically-controlled resistive loads. And most of it is not switched-mode PSUs like in laptops. Most of it is lighting and refrigeration and heating/cooling and hot water."
Even that final sentence could be taken as misleading if put to an unknowing client - would it be read as energy use in that order ? lighting, refrigeration .....
All the data I have seen for the western world says pretty much the same thing, energy use is typically mostly hot water, then heating/cooling, refrigeration, lighting usually around 5% or less with energy efficient bulbs. Obviously this varies a lot depending on climate.
OK so you have solar/gas hot water - what relevance is that ? It just means this energy is moved from electricity to gas and might increase the % savings from using a VP but not the absolute amount or $.
And while an airconditioner and fridge might not be resistive loads - they are certainly thermostatically controlled, with the heat/cool output related to the power input, so the VP would not give any energy savings here would it ?
You say that the Vphase can't be called a voltage reducer and that if the voltage was below 220V it wouldn't reduce it - I guess you would also acknowledge that if the voltage was below 220V it wouldn't give any savings either ? So its a constant output voltage device - right ? Set at 220V.
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby Benny » Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:11 pm

PES - I just read that ASA report you referenced thanks. From my reading of the claims of "increased efficiency at lower voltages for pumps and motors", what they are claiming is reduced winding/resistive/IsqR losses, due to lower voltage and lower current - ie the motor will not get as warm while running. Do you accept that this is the only reason for any increase in efficiency ?
I don't know enough about a freezer motor/compressor to know what the efficiency is but I thought it was typically up around 95%. It would be interesting to see the report that Vphase submitted to ASA that convinced them that there was an efficiency increase and just how much it was. Its by releasing this sort of report that gives technically minded people like me that there is a real and significant benefit.
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Re: VPhase - Yet another scam..?????

Postby PES » Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:58 pm

I must take issue with your comment PES .....
...Most of it is lighting and refrigeration and heating/cooling and hot water."
Even that final sentence could be taken as misleading if put to an unknowing client - would it be read as energy use in that order ? lighting, refrigeration .....

All the data I have seen for the western world says pretty much the same thing, energy use is typically mostly hot water, then heating/cooling, refrigeration, lighting usually around 5% or less with energy efficient bulbs. Obviously this varies a lot depending on climate.


(Hey... this is an informal discussion on a forum - don't pick at the order when I don't claim it's in order!)

Now, according to the government's published figures (http://www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/fs61.html), it goes like this:

  • Standby: 3%
  • Cooking: 4%
  • Lighting: 7%
  • Refrigeration: 7%
  • Other appliances: 16%
  • Water heating: 25%
  • Heating and Cooling: 38%
I don't know if those figures are right, but let's go with them for a bit. (And I agree: obviously climate will make a big difference). But let's make the arbitrary call that heating and cooling are an equal split. So we're really looking at this (in decreasing order):

  • Water heating: 25%
  • Heating: 19%
  • Cooling: 19%
  • Other appliances: 16%
  • Lighting: 7%
  • Refrigeration: 7%
  • Cooking: 4%
  • Standby: 3%
So it looks like we both made the same mistake: we both missed "Other appliances" - more significant than lighting and refrigeration put together!

OK so you have solar/gas hot water - what relevance is that ? It just means this energy is moved from electricity to gas and might increase the % savings from using a VP but not the absolute amount or $.


Well it's relevant from two perspectives. Firstly, it makes a big difference to how much VO can save you on your electricity bill (as a percentage). It tells you where to look for power savings. If you're like me and you have gas or solar hot water and heating then the message is simple: aircon, fridges, lights and general appliances are all that really matter. The second thing is that the average "Joe" (or "Jane") usually equates hot water and heating to thermostatically controlled resistive loads. And they often are. My point was that they're not always. That's all.

And while an airconditioner and fridge might not be resistive loads - they are certainly thermostatically controlled, with the heat/cool output related to the power input, so the VP would not give any energy savings here would it ?


Well there are two issues: the refrigeration and the blowers. I don't have specific data, and I'm unwilling to speculate (speculation - as opposed to data - is half the problem here) but you might find no saving, or a saving on the blower but not on the refrigeration. It would be good to find out.

The other thing worth considering is the way people use thermostats. There's a whole class of people who don't understand thermostats at all - the people who turn the heating thermostat up on a cold day and the cooling thermostat down on a hot day. Often these people aren't really using thermo-statically controlled resistive loads; they're using thermostatically-equipped and random whim-controlled resistive loads. Anyhow...

You say that the Vphase can't be called a voltage reducer and that if the voltage was below 220V it wouldn't reduce it - I guess you would also acknowledge that if the voltage was below 220V it wouldn't give any savings either ? So its a constant output voltage device - right ? Set at 220V.


Not at all. Completely different point. 216V is the minimum supply. Can't go below.

And it's not constant output. You'll find the specs on our website. It won't reduce by > 27V. So at 257V in, you get 230V out. But at < 220V in, it takes itself out of the circuit. Other than that, fixed 220V, yes.

(Not being picky - just trying to be accurate).
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