The combination of energy conservation and the development of effective surge suppressors has set the stage for unscrupulous operators to become active and take advantage of the willingness of the uninformed public to invest hard-earned dollars in the futile attempt to decrease power bills.

More than a decade ago, the Surge Protective Device Committee of the Power Engineering Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published a warning on misleading claims regarding the energy savings potential of surge protective devices. In the early 1980s, EPRI conducted a study (Evaluation of Transient Voltage Suppressors for Saving Electric Energy, EPRI EL-1722, 1981) that came to the same conclusion– there is no convincing proof to support claims that transient voltage suppressors alone save electric energy. However, some manufacturers and distributors of SPDs still claim energy savings and in some cases may even provide warranties for energy savings of 10-15 percent. The assumptions behind such claims are usually as follows:

  1. Over-voltage events are common in most facilities.
  2. Over-voltage events cause end-user equipment to run hotter than normal.
  3. Equipment is more energy efficient when operating at lower temperatures than at higher temperatures.
  4. Installation of the manufacturer’s TVSS technology isolates equipment from these over-voltages, thereby preventing heat build-up and improving energy efficiency.
  5. When compared to alternative approaches, the manufacturer’s TVSS technology is a cost-effective solution for over-voltage protection or for enabling cooler equipment operation.

According to EPRI PEAC, it is often difficult to counter such assumptions. Customers are encouraged to refer to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) web site for more information about false claims of TVSS energy savings, and to notify the FTC about such claims. To learn more, follow the links below:

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/04/energysurf2002.htm
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/predawn/F93/solarsale8.htm

For more information, please contact Dr. Arshad Mansoor, EPRI PEAC, atamansoor@epri-peac.com or 865-218-8004.