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Energy Smart Power Planner Beware

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Posted by Donald on February 18, 2004, 2:42 pm
Beware of Energy Smart's Power Planner by Coast Energy Management

The claims are not arrived at in a valid way.  The power measurements must
ALLWAYS be taken BEFORE the Power Planner and not AFTER.  Power factor
must be used to calculate the actual power measured at the meter.

The "demo" units commonly found in Home Depot have an "optimized" unit.  A
unit from the shelf will not yeild the same savings.

Expect a payback on a unit running 24 hours a day to be 18months to 5
years not 6 to 14 months!

Rules of thumb for any real savings:
Must have full rated voltage as stated on the data plate.
Must have stable power factor or the Power Planner will disengage.
Must be running at less than 60% of the rated load of the motor.
CAN work on more than one motor at a time but they must be under the same load.

Watch out for the ground lug/bolts on the boxes.  The powder coat does NOT
conduct!  Mounting the compensating capacitors to the ground lug/bolt
isn't a great idea to begin with and if the lug isn't really grounded
could make for a shocking experience!  Using the ground as a current
return is probably against most electrical codes as well.

This guy is slick!   If he pauses and squints a little, it's time to leave.

Bottom line: they work but not like they say they do at EnergySmart.

Posted by m Ransley on February 18, 2004, 5:03 pm
What actualy does  that unit do and can it harm apliances

Posted by daestrom on February 19, 2004, 12:11 am

The devices monitor the amount of load on a motor and change the amount of
applied voltage to optimize the performance.

Induction motors suffer from poor power factor when operated at less than
their fully designed load.  When they operate at low power factors, their
overall efficiency drops.  A larger percentage of the input energy is wasted
than when the motor operates under design conditions.

If a fully loaded motor is operated at reduced voltage, it can be damaged by
excessive currents and overheating.  But a lightly-loaded motor can be
operated at reduced voltage, and it's poor power factor will actually
improve.  This device (and others like it) sense when the motor is fully
loaded or lightly loaded and adjust the applied voltage automatically to
optimize motor efficiency.

The savings depend on how much time the motor is running with less than full
load, and how poorly the motor efficiency drops under those conditions.
Many home appliances do *not* operate under light load for very long.
Refrigerator & A/C compressors are usually sized to be 'just right' and not
oversized.  When cooling is not needed, they shut off, not operate the motor
'unloaded'.  Blower motors on furnaces *may* be lightly-loaded depending on
the exact adjustments of speed/flow.

Machine shop tools and compressors that run 'unloaded'/'loaded' instead of
shutting off/restarting are typical situations where some savings can be
found using this type of controller.  But most home users just shut their
power saw when not using it :-)

It isn't really new, the idea/technology has been around for years.  But you
only realize some *real* savings in very special applications, not your
average home refrigerator.


Posted by Donald on February 19, 2004, 12:40 pm
 Daestrom is correct but I'll add my 2 cents to the thread....

The Power Planners work by leaving an SCR turned off until the programmed
processor tells it to turn on.  This is done with a pot on the PCB.  The
idea is that an induction motor doesn't need all of the energy it consumes
when it's not running at its full rated load.  There are a great number of
engineering articles on this subject, some go one way and some go the
other way about energy used in induction motors at various loads.  IF you
have full voltage available and IF you have a non-high efficiency motor
and IF it's not running at near the full rated load and IF the Power
Planner is adjusted correctly then you have good savings and reduced motor
temps.  With these conditions the Power Planner would maintain the voltage
but just limit the amount of AC cycle exposed to the motor.  The motor
doesn't go into an under-voltage/over-current condition and the work and
RPMs are maintained and the whole setup uses less energy and the motor
temp is reduced so your motor lasts longer.  Everyone is happy!

The Power Planners have 2 pots, one is for the engage delay and the other
is for adjusting the amount of cut in the SCRs.  The Power Planner IIs
have just one SCR on the high leg, there is one version that had 2
parallel SCRs with no load equalizing circuit.  Power Planner IIIs use 3
SCRs.  An additional caution on the Power Planner IIIs: The PCB uses one
of the legs as a psuedo reference and picks a little voltage off another
leg to run the circuit.  In other words the PCB is at or near the line
voltage!  Back to the pots, if you have what you believe is a good
candidate for a Power Planner then the you can try messing with the pots
and potentially get more a savings than the factory setting.  I've heard
of results where breakers on generators that used to trip no longer trip
with the Power Planner but I've also heard of cases where the wiring did
not allow for sufficient line voltage or a stable power factor and the
Power Planner just would not produce a savings or would fail outright.
The Power Planner I and II and fluorescent all use the same PCB, the Power
Planner Is and IIs use the same programmed chip.  The fluorescent model
uses a different chip altogether and I believe is adjusted with a photo
meter to brightness with regular ballasts, not sure if they claim it works
on electronic ballasts.

The chance of harming a motor depends on the set up.  Trying to use a soft
start on a motor that suddenly has a much greater load than it did when it
was set up would probably lock up the motor and fail the smoke test.  Soft
start on the Power Planner III is one of the jumpers on the PCB that
changes the delay pot to the current limit pot so it technically isn't a
soft start just a blind current limited start.  Loosing an SCR on a three
phase unit can cause issues with motors although the Power Planner will
shut down sometimes if there is a lost leg.  Electronics integrated into
motor appliances like the new refrigerators can have issues and unusual
operation with a Power Planner.  Coast Energy Managements attempts to wire
houses with a single phase Power Planner II with a 100-250amp SCR was a
very bad idea and causes line filters to hum and speed controlled motors
to act up although I'm not aware of any equipment damage/failures from the

(Donald) wrote:

same load.

Posted by James Parish on February 24, 2004, 2:10 am
 I have taken them apart and wired in a SSR to increase the current so I
could run my 240v 1.5hp well pump.  It drops the current from 8a to 6a and
yes, I tweaked the pots.  I bought them on holiday special for $9 each,
take a look:




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