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Electricity-Saving Box

This all started out when a reader sent us a link to an item being offered on eBay. He wanted to know if the claims were true: could this little device really save money by reducing the amount of power used by your electrical appliances? Have Newton, Ohm, Kirchoff, Thevenin et al been wrong all along?

by Maurio Grassi

It’s called, quite simply, an "Electricity-Saving Box". You simply plug it into the power outlet. . . and whenever you use any electrical/electronic device on that circuit you start saving energy (and therefore money).

But wait, there’s more: it would protect all the mains powered devices you used. And if that weren’t enough, it would even extend those device’s lives. Wow!

We’d seen (and, we must admit, dismissed!) such claims before – but our reader wanted to know if somehow the supplier had rewritten the basic laws of physics. Could the claims possibly be true?

"Reduce the amount of electricity used by your appliances", they said.

"Begins to save you money the second you plug it in" Wow again!

"Save between 10% and 30% of the energy used depending on device"

"Uses no power itself"

Click for larger image
Fig.1: there's not much inside the Electricity-Saving Box - mainly a capacitor, a varistor and a power supply to light up a couple of LEDs. The claimed "intelligent and digital" circuitry (what else could that be but a microcontroller?) was obviously out to lunch on the day we opened up this can of worms!

"Prolong the life of your appliances" Really?

Hmm! Our experience is that if something sounds too good to be true, then it invariably is.

Therefore, we were dubious. Skeptical. Downright derisive, if you like. But hey, the price was only $25.00 including freight from China (where else, these days, on eBay?). So we hit the "Buy it Now" button and waited with bated breath for the magic device to arrive – which, in due course, it did.

Even before we plugged it in, we attacked it with our trusty company screwdriver to see what was inside. (Oh dear. Have we voided the warranty?)

The truth is, there’s not a great deal inside ! Our photos and the circuit we’ve drawn (Fig.1) show what you get for your money.

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