Impractical energy products flood

Crowdfunding campaigns or wide product announcements that do not make sense pops up every now and then. It seems that energy related “inventions” seems to be getting easily into the spotlight without proven merits:

Hackaday article Crowdfunding Follies: Proof That Ohm’s Law Is Arcane Knowledge tells about a special cell phone case Kickstarter (Nikola Phone Case from Nikola Labs) that claims  to recharge your battery by capturing radio energy put out by the cell phone itself. This means capturing RF from the WiFi and cellular transmitters. It’s been featured on dozens of tech blogs, wowed judges at TechCrunch Disrupt, and it’s a Kickstarter Staff Pick. It’s also proof that nearly everyone in the media who claims any knowledge of technology has no idea behind the foundational properties of technology. Astonishingly, this is not a perpetual motion machine, a device that is completely impractical, or an outright fraud. It’s deceptively correct when it comes to the physics of this device, and as always implementation is everything. This phone case will actually harvest RF energy, but it will never be able to extend the life of the phone’s battery because dramatic decrease in reception and most likely an increase in power draw due to the phone increasing its transmit power.The company claims that ” Nikola technology slows the rate at which the phone’s internal battery discharges, without impacting data transmission rates or call quality“, but I fins this hard to believe. There is simply no excuse why hundreds of people would give tens of thousands of dollars to a company that makes outrageous claims with zero evidence.

I earlier posted on one such example at Extending Alkaline Battery Life article. Batteriser is a $2.50 gadget that promises to extend disposable battery life by 800 percent. It is was hard for me to buy this kind of claims – and it turned ou that they did not hold. Dave Jones from EEVBlog has put together a great video on the how comes and why nots of the Batteriser.

Here is another one on the same series: Turn Your Windows Into Outlets With These Sticky Solar Chargers article tells about Yanko Design, Kyuho Song and Boa Oh’s design concepts for a suction-cup-equipped solar power charger provides an elegant solution to all our power needs. The charger sticks to the window, exposing solar panels to the sun on one side, with an outlet to plug in a device on the reverse. According to their mockups, the device would take five to eight hours to fully charge, and would provide 10 hours of electricity at that point. This device looks very nice, but it also has a practical problem – it does not workas advertized: A tiny tiny solar cell can just NOT produce a decent amount of energy to power anything but a mobile phone (or a tiny LED lamp) for a short period of time because the laws of physics. After a full day of sunshine this device (assuming it has a battery inside) will have stored some power, but maybe just enough to power your mobile for short time. The solar panel is so small that it will be very low power.

Viral ‘Solar Window Outlet’ Cannot Possibly Work article points out that all solar power technology is limited by one pesky little constant: the maximum amount of solar energy striking any representative section of the planet is generally about one kilowatt per square meter.  The device can only have about  50 square centimeters of photovoltaic surface and with with PV surface efficiency of 10-15 percent, we will end up less than 1W maximum power when sun is shining. Squeezing a power inverter into a hockey-puck-sized container  does not leave much space to battery and eats up the system efficiency. The most charitable interpretation of the solar outlet is that the designers “created” it as an exercise in visual design without actually consulting an electrical engineer.If you want at least charge your mobile using solar power, you will find better and cheaper solutions. But be warned that generally solar phone chargers may not be the answer – because these chargers normally need seven to eight hours of exposure to the sun to charge themselves.

Pavegen: The Company that can’t make energy out of crowds tries to make money out of them article tells that a company selling floor tiles which extract tiny, pointless amounts of energy from crowds walking across them is seeking fresh investment through the medium of crowdfunding. Had the designer been a real engineer, of course, Mr Kemball-Cook would swiftly have realised that the total amount of energy one can generate using human bodies – far less the even tinier amount of energy one can generate by placing tiles under people’s feet as they walk by – is utterly insignificant compared to the energy demands of modern civilisation. They look really rather pointless. Maybe they had some use: But what about about all the Big Footfall Data? You could find out all KINDS of stuff from that!

Eco products to save energy seems to be market where there are many products that do not live up to the claims. There are many  Eco products you don’t need. Eco products you don’t need article shows you a plethora of eco products on the market that don’t live up to their claims of helping you save money on your energy bills. Although their technology might sounds convincing, many products have no effect on energy use – and one product even increased it

Just two years ago there was an Indiegogo to sell a perpetual motion machine. Free energy machines of the type this particular inventor imagines are everywhere; just do a quick YouTube search to see. Perpetual motion cranks always seem to trot out Tesla, thus betraying their own ignorance of power generation.

Is this is the end of capitalism or accelerated version of it - no need to innovate and make a better mouse trap. All you need to do is convince enough people that you’ve made a better mouse trap. Has things changed to worse lately or has it been this bad all the time? It it just fact of life that products that do not work as claimed are common in every marketplace (Think of worthless vitamins and supplements, gimmicky exercise machines, love potions, gadgets to make your car run on water, etc., etc.).

 Is the situation this bad? Do you disagree me on this? Please write a comment.

17 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    At least two out of three of the innovations said to be promising in this article are not anywhere as good as claimed:

    Three Battery Innovations That Could Change Everything
    http://architechnologist.com/three-battery-innovations-that-could-change-everything/#.Vcw2WflLZ4A

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Batteriser: scam or savior?
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4440136/The-Batteriser–scam-or-savior-?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20150819&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20150819&elq=ccfbff5cca934d46b7db97e5c65a40e6&elqCampaignId=24438&elqaid=27614&elqat=1&elqTrackId=146b3228c5ec43248f075d82eca5c678

    Founding company Batteroo’s pitch is rich with intrigue and compelling claims:

    Industrial espionage,
    Up to 8x longer battery life
    Products that “pay for themselves with the first set of revived batteries”

    And at minimum, the Batteriser, “crafted from stainless steel at 0.1 mm thin,” represents an impressive Moore’s Law case study of the now-possible extreme miniaturization of today’s DC voltage boost and regulation capabilities. But what, if any, reality is there behind founder Bob Roohparvar’s boasts? Plenty of detractors exist; see, for example, the commentary at Hackaday and Slashdot. Here are my thoughts.

    In his pitch to PC World’s Jon Phillips, Roohparvar reportedly showed via a “power meter” that adding the Batteriser to an AA battery that had been drained to 1.3V restored the battery’s like-new 1.5V output capabilities. I’ve no doubt that this is possible, but the “power meter” likely put a scant current demand on the setup. The Batteriser-boosted battery might not have fared nearly as well under more typical applications (“wireless keyboards, game console controllers, TV remotes, digital scales, blood pressure monitors, toys, and (of course) the ubiquitous flashlight”), especially when drained all the way down to 0.6V as Roohparvar suggests is feasible.

    Secondly, why couldn’t the requisite boost and regulation circuitry alternatively be located within the powered device itself? In fact, as you likely already realize, it frequently is

    What about Batteroo’s cost-savings claims? Each AA-sized Batteriser is forecast to cost $2.50; that’s $10 for a four-pack, plus the prices of the batteries themselves. But I recently came across a 100-pack of alkaline AAs for $15. Even if you buy into Roohparvar’s pitch that a single Batteriser-enhanced AA can replace eight conventional counterparts, the comparative math just doesn’t add up … especially if, as Dave Jones claims, use of the Batteriser might lead to a short circuit-induced system fire.

    And what about Batteroo’s advocacy about keeping an excessive drained-battery count out of landfills, which would normally resonate strongly with an avowed environmentalist such as me? Thankfully, batteries are no longer mercury-filled

    At the end of the day, although I commend Batteroo on its miniaturization achievement, I struggle to find a strong commercialization market opportunity for it.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home> Community > Blogs > Brian’s Brain
    The Batteriser: defenders and detractors
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4440366/The-Batteriser–defenders-and-detractors?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_consumerelectronics_20150923&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_consumerelectronics_20150923&elq=d07f37fdef3c4ad984043f962359f59a&elqCampaignId=24896&elqaid=28243&elqat=1&elqTrackId=a6394d42bf294b889e8e08119dc9796f

    The bulk of the commenters’ observations were skeptical of Batteroo and its pending product, and otherwise negative in tone. Some of the comments were from Batteroo itself; unfortunately, in my opinion, the company frequently chose to engage in personal attacks on the detractors themselves (their underlying motives, their backers, their technical competence, etc), versus focusing on addressing the issues raised.

    1) Why couldn’t the requisite boost and regulation circuitry alternatively be located within the powered device itself? In fact, as you likely already realize, it frequently is.

    Putting boost circuitry inside a device would work. The reality, however, is that there are 5.4 billion devices already made vast majority of which do not have boost circuitry inside—which is what Batteriser was designed for.

    Device makers are incredibly cost-conscience, and hesitant to add in additional parts that effect their bottom line. In my own experience dealing with fortune 500 companies, I remember that my colleagues would spend days negotiating a fraction of a penny in cost for expensive devices.

    Furthermore, many electronic devices have very limited space and power envelopes. The addition of the boost circuitry adds time to the design cycle, more space, and more power—all of which are opposite of what manufacturers prefer to incur.

    there are very few available boost circuitry in the market that work down to low voltage ranges such as Batteriser

    2) How does Battteroo come to the conclusion that most devices have a cut off voltage of 1.3V? Dave Jones couldn’t find any.

    Based on Dave’s argument, there should only be 10% of energy left in the battery with 1.1V cut off voltage. Additionally he says that since boost circuitry uses energy to boost, the overall gain is even less than 10% and perhaps even a total negative impact on performance. In the same video, he mentions that “most electronic devices have boost circuitry” making Batteriser useless. One cannot have it both ways.

    We are shortly releasing a technical video that will explain in detail how a device with a cut off voltage of 1.1V has only used less than 20% of the battery’s energy, which corresponds to the charge left in a battery with around 1.3V steady state current load condition

    This study shows that 10% of the batteries thrown away have roughly enough energy left in them to be considered unused, and 20% of the perceived “dead” batteries have, on average, 93% of their energy still left in them. This study further shows that if you take an average of 30% of the “least dead” batteries, 84% of energy is still left inside.

    Furthermore, OfficialDuracellUK uploaded a video on YouTube that shows how they were able to light up a Duracell Bunny LED light sculpture using 192 perceived dead batteries. The video states that based on a sample from a UK recycling center, one third of batteries thrown away have up to 67% of “usable” power left inside.

    3) How do you explain Batteroo’s cost-savings claims?

    We absolutely acknowledge that batteries vary tremendously in price depending on where they are bought

    A much more separate debate is whether very inexpensive “generic” batteries are equivalent in performance and superior in value to regular name-brand offerings.

    “If I used the cheaper DG, I would just have to replace the batteries more often.”

    These were the numbers he calculated for stored energies of the three batteries:

    DG (Dollar Store) = 2983 Joules (0.829 Watt*hours)
    Energizer = 10,798 Joules (3.00 Watt*hours)

    “With this in mind, you may not save much, or any money at all, by buying cheaper batteries vs premium Duracell or Energizer batteries.”

    4) Is this product really benefitting the environment in any meaningful way?

    Every year, more than 15 billion batteries end up in landfills.

    Based on the study done by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, “Single-Use Alkaline Battery Case Study,” steel, zinc, and manganese are not the only materials found in batteries. Batteries also contain potassium, graphite, copper, nickel, PVC, nylon, and paper. Current recycling processes can only recover steel, zinc, and manganese, with recycling technologies that vary depending on location affecting the percentage of material that is recoverable.

    We’re actually big fans of rechargeable batteries

    Amazing Duracell Bunny LED Light Sculpture
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JglYXZgP740

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Skarp Laser Razor Kickstarter Suspended, Jumps To Indiegogo
    http://hackaday.com/2015/10/13/skarp-laser-razor-kickstarter-suspended-jumps-to-indiegogo/

    An irritation-free razor that gives a close shave has been a dream for thousands of years. [Gillette] came close, and with multiple blades came even closer, but all razors today are still just sharpened steel dragged across the skin. This is the 21st century, and of course there’s a concept for a laser razor pandering for your moola. We recently covered the Skarp laser razor and its Kickstarter campaign, and today the campaign has been shut down.

    It only took eight hours for the Skarp team to relaunch their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. As of this writing, over 900 people (ostensibly from the 20,000 backers of the original Kickstarter campaign) have pledged to the new campaign.

    Although we will never know exactly why Kickstarter suspended the original Skarp campaign, the reason given by the Kickstarter Integrity Team points to the lack of a working prototype, one of the requirements for technology campaigns on Kickstarter. Interestingly, Skarp did post a few videos of their razor working. These videos were white balanced poorly enough to look like they were filmed through green cellophane, a technique some have claimed was used to hide the actual mechanism behind the prototype’s method of cutting hair.

    But for a crowdfunding campaign to be suspended on Kickstarter and immediately move to Indiegogo? This almost never ends well. One of the most famous examples, the Anonabox, had its Kickstarter campaign suspended after it was found the creator was simply rebadging an off-the-shelf router.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Power Saver review biggest Scam 2011 “Save 25% on Your Electric Bill!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H1PCYm4bEk

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Exposed ? Free Energy Magnet Motor
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I3Ly5mBhT4

    How a computer fan spins using magnets
    If you see these on the net, they are fake, this video shows how the fan spins using 2 hidden batteries and a reed switch. The lamp being illuminated is also a trick

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Power Jack 5000W Pure Sine Inverter Review – part1/3
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI9kAWQ_s4w

    In this series I take a look at a PowerJack Inverter that I recently acquired and see if it is really as bad as I’ve heard. They are inexpensive to purchase, but are they worth what they cost?

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside a whole-house energy saver.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKasA4HxaGY

    This is a perplexingly complicated device that was/is heavily marketed by salesmen as an energy saving unit that will lower your electricity bill.

    The design starts out in a very traditional manner by using a device called a buck transformer.

    The unit is actually only rated for 8A with a peak of 20A and will bypass the transformer if the load gets too high or if the transformer gets hot.

    I’m a firm proponent of keeping domestic (home) installs as simple as possible to make things reliable and safe. This beast does not fit in that category.

    At the end of the video I redesign the unit for ease of fitting and reliability and there’s also a fake customer testimonial for authenticity.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This products looks like to me like a snake oil – a product that does not work as promised.
    They claim that just wiping your electrical panel with their wipes would save electricity.
    It does not work that way – and their “scientific explanation” sounds like total bullshit

    Z-Energeia Energy Optimizer 2.0
    http://www.zenergeia.sg/official/the-product/

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside a whole-house energy saver.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKasA4HxaGY

    This is a perplexingly complicated device that was/is heavily marketed by salesmen as an energy saving unit that will lower your electricity bill.
    The design starts out in a very traditional manner by using a device called a buck transformer. This is a transformer with a mains voltage primary and a low voltage secondary that then gets put in series with the load and drops the voltage to it (or boosts it up if wired in reverse). Then it gets quite complicated with a bank of IGBTs (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors)

    I’m not sure if the design actually controlled the output voltage accurately or if it was just a soft cut-in and out to avoid sudden intensity changes of lighting. The unit is actually only rated for 8A with a peak of 20A and will bypass the transformer if the load gets too high or if the transformer gets hot.

    I’m a firm proponent of keeping domestic (home) installs as simple as possible to make things reliable and safe. This beast does not fit in that category.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    200kW miracle power saving device.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHanyzP3C6o

    Just in case you didn’t notice,I really love quack products. I’ve taken apart similar units to this in a plug-in version, but this is a stand-alone aluminium case version.
    OK, it’s smaller than I was expecting, but that’s just one of those things. It uses pretty much the same circuitry, basically a capacitor in parallel with the mains, but has a more sensible LED drive circuit and a fuse too.
    These things claim to lower your electricity bill by filtering/improving the mains sinewave. They’re loosely based on power factor correction, but as that has no effect on a home electricity meter they won’t show an effect.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mystery 240V electrical deathtrap.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUn17ccR2a4

    Inside a heated shower head. (suicide shower)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNjA0aee07k

    This device is apparently quite common in countries where electrical standards are more relaxed and the climate is a bit milder. It’s basically a chunky shower head that has a heater built into it.

    2.5kW electro baby-cutor. (And dodgy bucket warmer.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIUJWIT9GrU

    The latest addition to my growing collection of delightfully dangerous Chinese electrode water boilers. This one is supposedly rated 2.5kW and is rather amusingly sold for heating the water for babies baths.
    To be fair, it does suggest unplugging it before putting the baby in, as otherwise you and the baby would have a very loud and violent 50/60Hz family moment.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside an ECO OBD2 “chip tuner” fuel saver.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8vjWXXIJas

    I’m not sure about this thing at all. The idea is that you plug it into your cars OBD2 diagnostics connector and it analyses your driving and engine performance, and then remaps your engines control parameters to make it more efficient.

    However, from what I’ve found online, the OBD port is not really suited to re-mapping engine characteristics.
    Then comes the awkward situation of whether you should plug ANY device that claims to alter engine settings into your car. There are so many different makes and models of car that the software would have to identify the make and model, type of engine and the parameters it could safely change. You would then be relying on a bit of software of unknown origin that was basically messing around with settings in a vehicle that could damage it, cause it to malfunction suddenly while being driven, or even just brick the cars control computer completely. All these scenarios could result in thousands of pounds worth of damage.
    So it’s a surprise that the unit does have more than just some blinking LED

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Teardown and test of a home power saving plug
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o3mADtThUs

    These “power saving” plugs are widely available on the Internet. The premise is that you plug them into ANY socket in your home and suddenly your electricity bill gets lower. These claims are usually backed up by testimonials from satisfied users who quote staggering savings on their electricity bills.
    In reality the plugs have no significant effect on a home power bill, since the only effect they have is random compensation for any continuous inductive loads in the home like transformers in power supplies. But even then, it’s just a random correction of power factor (relationship of the voltage waveform to the current waveform) and as this is not even monitored by most household meters it won’t have any effect on your bills at all.

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake solar LED keyring from ebay seller heavends.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=546bIjc4pes

    It’s basically a keyring with LEDs and a button for use as a flashlight, but also with a solar panel to recharge the internal cell. However, in this case it’s a fake. It’s got a real solar panel, but it’s not charging the two internal CR2016 lithium cells, which is probably a good thing really, since they are not rechargeable.

    Reply

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