Do you know anything about the Redi-Volt II System IV product line? It appears to be a top-of-the-line product with energy saving guarantees. How do I verify and compare this to other TVSS products?

Mike Holt’s Comment:
If anybody tells me that they can save energy with a Transient Voltage Suppressor (TVSS), then I know what product I would not purchase. There is no way to save energy with such a device. Let the Buyer Beware!
P.S. If you’re an engineer, can you give me some feedback so I can send out to those that might get sucked into this game?

Response No. 1:
They need to be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau. I am always open to new ideas and technology but I seriously doubt any metal oxide varistor (internal circuit of a TVSS) will act as an energy saving device.
David R. Carpenter

Response No. 2:
I was recently approached by a large commercial developer who was considering such a device. This product claimed to provide surge protection resulting in an energy savings, and was backed by guarantee (the installation cost was upwards of $50,000). I told him to ask the vendor to install this device on one branch circuit with a 60W fluorescent or incandescent lamp connected and meter the power consumption for a couple of days. Then, simultaneously do the same thing on another branch circuit with the same load without this device. The vendor was not willing to provide this comparison. It seems this would be a small request compared to the vendor's proposal.

Response No. 3:
The following is a good response to questions on the subject. It came from the ESOURCE Website.

Question of the Month - 03/06/2003
Do you have any information on the energy-savings capabilities of transient-voltage surge suppression systems?
Our Answer: We've been getting a lot of member inquiries lately about transient-voltage surge suppression (TVSS) products claiming to deliver substantial energy savings. The evidence we've seen to date doesn't support these claims. To the contrary, we learned recently that the Federal Trade Commission charged one company with false representation for making energy savings claims for its TVSS products (see for more information) and has issued a warning to a second company. The settlement judgment from the first case prohibited the company from repeating such claims unless it could provide competent and reliable evidence to substantiate them. Unless the manufacturers of these devices provide such evidence, we advise readers to maintain a very healthy skepticism.

TVSS devices are, by and large, designed to do one thing: protect downstream equipment from voltage surges and spikes. Typically, they serve this function quite well by shunting excess voltage-to-ground until the transient has passed. We've tried to obtain information substantiating the energy-savings claims that some TVSS manufacturers make, but so far, we haven't gotten any practical explanations from them. And, in the case of one manufacturer, the statements we've seen in the company's marketing materials only serve to reduce the credibility of its claims. That manufacturer's Website states that its devices "filter out thermodynamics" and "reduce the resistance on all electrical equipment." Needless to say, thermodynamics is a branch of science, not something that can be filtered out. And the resistance (or, more properly, impedance) of any piece of electrical equipment is a characteristic fixed by the materials its components are made of and the way in which those components are interconnected. No explanation is provided on how the product would alter any equipment's impedance.

Most likely, such claims serve to raise the prices charged for TVSS equipment as compared with comparable equipment from vendors that don't make energy-savings claims. Before investing in TVSS equipment in hopes of saving energy, we suggest shopping around to be aware of any price premium.

In addition, it wouldn't be hard or particularly expensive to set up credible testing at an independent laboratory to evaluate energy savings resulting from the use of TVSS devices. If the companies claiming that their devices will yield energy savings had conducted such testing and it supported their claims, one would expect the test results to be widely advertised on their Websites and in their marketing materials. No mention of any such testing is made.

Instead of credible circuit-specific test results, all we've seen are guarantees of energy savings based on comparisons of month-to-month, whole-facility electricity bills. Evaluations of overall energy savings are notorious for their imprecision. There are so many variables that can and do affect electricity consumption at a given facility over time that accurately ferreting out the impact of any one variable typically requires the development of a sophisticated regression model that takes all relevant factors into account. The variables might include weather, production level, changes in the use or design of the facility, changes in production techniques, vacation schedules, or changes in other energy-consuming equipment such as lighting or HVAC systems. (And this is by no means an exhaustive list.) Therefore, on a whole-facility basis, it would require a lot of time, energy, and resources to accurately evaluate energy savings from a TVSS device or to prove that it had not provided the promised level of energy savings.
Ed Brill & John McComb

Response No. 4:
While visiting a customer's facility, representatives from Volt Tech, Inc./Redi-Volt, showed up. They were offering a service for surge suppression with a guaranteed 20 percent savings over two years on the customer's electrical bill. I also received a call today from a different customer who had been approached by this vendor, and was asked to verify if this vendor was correct and if we had heard of them. So, I just wanted to give you a heads up that this vendor was working the West Coast, and perhaps other areas as well.

I had the second customer fax me information that the vendor had left with him. One of the things that the vendor asked this customer for was his account number and the last four digits of his Tax ID.
Jerry Jenkins

Response No. 5:
I second your opinion. Claims of "energy savings" from TVSS have been disproved, discredited and even prosecuted! In my opinion, this is one of the latest "snake oil" sales approaches of modern times. It is an insult to the honest, hard-working people in this industry for some to make outlandish claims. Most engineers are very proficient at math, so it is not surprising that this class of professionals consider such claims to be unsupported by real mathematics versus this "new math" as used by those who attempt to sell energy savings from transient voltage surge suppression.
Rick Stevens

Response No. 6:
I think we all have this impression that in order to save us money the manufacturer better be coming up with equipment that slows our meters down.

Yet they can make claims to lower energy costs, not to mention replacement costs. There are, as you know, many issues that arise when you have transient voltages. Equipment filters need to dissipate this energy, which is ultimately heat. Some manufacturers use longer line cords to allow for transient voltage suppression. This ultimately causes a voltage drop, and in effect costs you money. So even though we may not see our meters slow down, we are already victims of a higher consumption to permit our equipment to run somewhat unaffected by the transients that are in all of our utility supplies as well as present in our residences when our dishwasher runs.
James Faccone

Response No. 7:
Check the 60 Minutes program from the early 80s. It goes into detail regarding this claim. If we assume the claim is true, then the meter is fast enough to even record the transients, which by definition are faster than 1/1000 of a second, then: (1) transients generated inside of a facility are not passing through the meter so they would not be read, and (2) transients originating outside of the facility have already passed through the meter and have been metered before they get to the surge suppressor which eliminates them.

Last but not least, utilities across the country have rebate programs for credible energy savers; i.e., high-efficiency air-conditioning, T8 lighting, etc. This claim has been around 25 years and I have not seen a rebate, even though if it did work, it would apply to all customer types.
John McComb

Response No. 8:
You are, of course, right that a TVSS cannot save energy. I have been working with TVSSs for years and have yet to hear that claim by a vendor (although it sounds like it could happen with the "black magic" claims the vendors state that make these things). They are always trying to shroud their products as a mystery, and make claims on performance that are not backed up by any regulatory agency (for performance, not safety, which is covered by UL 1449, 2nd Edition).

We all know that TVSSs clamp overvoltages to ground, so cannot save money on electricity. They CAN however save you from throwing out your electronics in the junk heap after a transient, which I guess (in a way) can save energy from not having to go out and buy another one!
Mike Krzywosz

Response No. 9:
Energy-savings claims with surge suppression are BS. Attached are two links you can check out. The second one is better.
Eric Marshall

Response No. 10:
Thanks for helping expose the nonsense to the public. Even in their ad they have errors in theory; the "thermodynamics" on the line are what cause the losses. Have you ever measured a "thermodynamic?" Anyway, its an ad to the unsuspecting and electrically ignorant. Thanks again for helping to expose it.
Frank Patton Jr.

Response No. 11:
I checked out the Website for Redi-Volt and found this claim: "Ener/Tech provides a written warranty that its equipment cuts electrical (kWh) usage 20% or more. Filters out thermodynamics, which are heat causing, voltage-stressing elements from the power line. Reducing the resistance on all electrical equipment and lights provides increased operating efficiency, and as a result uses less energy." When I first read this it sounded like a bunch of bull. It reminds me of reading those ads for herbal remedies that will cure everything from cancer to acne, or the ads for a new carburetor that will increase my mileage to 100 miles per gallon.

Claims like 'filters out thermodynamics' sounds like someone flipped through their old physics book until they found a word no one understands. And the claim to guarantee a 20% energy savings made me want to buy one just so I could collect on the warranty. The only way to achieve this kind of energy savings would be to lower the voltage. I went back and re-read their claims and my guess is that is exactly what they are selling. If power varies as the square of the voltage then you can achieve a 20% power reduction by reducing the voltage approximately 10%.

Electrical equipment varies as to how they would react to a reduction in voltage. Some equipment may operate OK while other equipment would have significant reductions in performance and others could even experience serious overheating in the wiring or equipment itself. This product may incorporate some technology, such as phase shifting or triac switching that would alleviate these problems in some specific types of equipment; however, I cannot imagine anything that would work on all types of electrical equipment.

I could check into it further to see if they have really come up with something new and innovative that would work in at least some types of applications, but I am not going to so. Their ad is so full of snake oil BS-type claims that I don't believe there is one chance in a million they have a product that I am interested in. This ad is going in the same place as all the ads I receive for losing weight fast and making big money fast - straight to the recycle bin.
Steve Davis

Response No. 12:
I first took a look at Redi-Volt's definition of Dirty Electrical Power. "Dirty Electrical Power is those momentary high-level bursts of energy (surges, spikes, glitches, etc.), which are present in practically all electrical systems from homes to factories." As we all know, any wire exposed today is bombarded with signals and impulses whether natural, or man-made. Most equipment has switched from the old rugged 60 Hz power transformers, to the off-line high-frequency switching power-supply circuits. These circuits are sensitive to voltage transits, and generate noise to the power line. Manufacturers take this into account and protect their equipment (some better than others), but they're all required to meet emission standards. However, some equipment now uses electronic power factor correcting circuitry, such as electronic lighting ballast, computers, etc., which makes the equipment itself more energy efficient from variation in the AC line. I could see how Redi-Volt's devices when connected can protect equipment, but the claim of making them more energy efficient - well, I'm a bit suspicious of this claim. Although I haven't used any of their equipment, I personally would not make a purchase for my own application, strictly hoping to improve energy efficiency.
Roger Owens

Response No. 13:
As you know, a TVSS device merely shunts a spike or surge to ground when the level of such an event exceeds the clamping voltage. Today's TVSSs contain MOVs, sometime FETs and other electronic components. Naturally we could expect some MOV leakage to ground. Most high-end TVSSs have LEDs. These also consume current and through their elimination you could "save electricity.” Perhaps they have used a circuit with near zero leakage. At any rate, the savings would be minuscule and significant only when measured in terms of decades. Comparable on the extreme end would be the consumption of a solid-state digital clock; its presence or absence would be considered an insignificant burden or benefit to the typical commercial or industrial facility.

The only other way to "save" electricity with a TVSS would be to shunt less of it to ground. This would, of course, defeat the purpose of the TVSS as the less energy shunted to ground, the more energy passed to your critically protected loads. Sales and marketing is a wonderful profession, is it not?
Scott Sorgenfrei

Response No. 14:
I would not be so hasty to dismiss any claim without investigating the facts of the case, which you offered none. Your statement "There is no way to save energy with such a device" itself is without facts, or at least you have not offered any argument why it is not possible. I could indeed imagine devices built accomplishing both tasks.

However, looking at the vendor's Website does not offer any technical information on how these devices save electricity. They do offer guarantee by a third party to refund your money if it does not save the energy they claim. There is an attempt to explain how saving is accomplished, but it sounds like a first-aid trainee trying to masquerade as brain surgeon, using technical words in a way that shows clearly that they do not understand the meaning of the word. In general, the Website lacks any technical depth to explain even how the fast clipping surge arrest is made, which is the primary claim. Either these guys do not know what they built because they reverse engineered some other product, or it is a truly snake-oil job with nothing substantial in the boxes.
Laszlo Z. Weress

Response No. 15:
I reviewed the Website for this product and it all seems shaky. They claim it is a power conditioner as well as a surge suppressor. They save money by filtering out "thermodynamics, which are heat causing, voltage-stressing elements from the power line." I've never heard of (nor can I conceptualize) what a thermodynamic is on a power line. Plus, it's not listed in the Website’s glossary of terms.

They also claim to save money by "reducing the resistance on all electrical equipment and lights provides increased operating efficiency." I do not understand how the TVSS unit can reduce resistance of the load. In basic circuits, the load is the resistance. It just doesn't make sense. You could reduce the resistance of the wire and therefore reduce power losses, but a TVSS unit wouldn't do that. Also, the TVSS is a "passive" unit. How could it "actively" alter the load? As far as I can tell, it can't.

Now, a power conditioner can save money by giving the loads a purer power supply, thereby making the loads use of power more efficient. This would also extend the life of the unit, which is claimed on the Website. But a typical TVSS unit is not a power conditioner and only activates when the incoming power exceeds a preset limit. There are other claims and things about the Website that are questionable, including the 20% savings guarantee. As far as I can tell, the product cannot do what it claims. If someone else knows where my thinking is wrong or has facts I don't, I'm ready to listen.
Brian Hattery

Response No. 16:
Here's the first clue it's questionable. They say: "filters out thermodynamics, which are heat causing." I am not sure what they are trying to say but, technically, it does not seem to make sense.

Response No. 17:
I am NOT an engineer, but I do recall the last time the "energy saving" surge arrestors came around. Back then they were in a cast 'bell' box with a blank metal cover, and an offset nipple to connect to the panel. It seems that the real advance to this outfit is a "NEON LIGHT."

What rip-offs! I look forward to your having the REAL goods to expose these charlatans. Thanks for your information and leadership in the field.
Lynn Adams

Response No. 18:
I checked with UL, and they are listed. I think their energy savings claims are just hype. Dirty energy is undefined. They do not state what they are doing, nor define their circuits. Their claims do not have definition, therefore can never be proven or disproven.

Regarding the guarantee of 20% energy savings or they will pay - you have to sign up for their guarantee for two years. After two years, you have to send all receipts and energy records to file a claim and prove that you saved energy, which is not feasible, and probably not possible. They can always say you just used more energy because of other reasons. Daily energy usage does not measure right over the years, since weekends fall on different days of the month each year.
In other words, how can you prove that you saved 20% energy? You can't. If I buy their product after a cold winter, and say wow, my heat pump bills are less, well, it is spring, and of course they are less. People will believe it worked.

Can a surge suppressor actually save energy? There are only two ways I can think of that could happen: (1) If it prevented power surges through the meter that you would be billed for, and (2) If it prevented the damage of an electrical device that caused it to use more energy. I personally don't believe it.
Anthony Cox

Response No. 19:
I am an electrical contractor in the state of Louisiana that submitted a "NO BID" form to a local parish government on the topic of TVSSs almost one year ago. This government department had asked in their bid package for surge suppression and energy savings to be installed on all of their motors in the wastewater plants. I immediately contacted my sales person that contacted two of the major manufacturers of TVSS - Current Technology and Leviton Manufacturing. Both of these manufacturers supplied me with written letters stating that they cannot offer energy savings and energy conservation. Both have stated that claims of surge protectors providing such benefits as energy savings is unfounded. However, there is a company that claims they can supply these benefits in one unit. If you could question their theory, the company is Ener/Tech Sales, Inc. The unit they are selling is Redi/Volt II, System IV. They can be found at or you can call Ener/Tech Sales, Inc. at 1-800-242-9360.

Response No. 20:
I went to the Web page This one has all the trappings of a scam with very little technical information and lots of testimonials. An excerpt from the Web page follows:

”Ener/Tech provides a written warranty that its equipment cuts electrical (kWh) usage 20% or more. Filters out thermodynamics, which are heat causing, voltage-stressing elements from the power line. Reducing the resistance on all electrical equipment and lights provides increased operating efficiency, and as a result uses less energy.”

'...Filters out thermodynamics...' (?). 'Reducing the resistance on all electrical equipment’ (?). Reducing the resistance would increase the power. A little matter of I ēR here. With a decrease in resistance, the current increases proportionally. “I” squared increases as the square. Net increase in power.

We could pick this one apart pretty easily. I can't see ever having enough data to collect on their guarantee. It reminded me of the 'free power' video. Did you ever watch that one? How embarrassing.
Eric Stromberg

Response No. 21:
I have been researching these quite a bit lately. They are part of a larger general category referred to as ESDs - Energy Saving Devices. I am going to put together a package of information and send that to you via E-mail tomorrow. I have to be a bit careful though because they are also a fairly litigious prone bunch and our legal department is very concerned about how we handle them.

The FTC has really cracked down on the TVSS crowd - you will like their letter.
Anyway - I will get this to you tomorrow morning.

Response No. 22:
Many years ago I had a sales rep leave me a "bell box, filled with black potting compound" claiming that it was a TVSS. It was a basic TVSS. Our service department X-rayed the contraption to discover that it was a selenium stack rectifier and capacitor combination. We could have built MANY of these overpriced units for the cost of their one unit, lifetime guarantee, etc.
Doug Decherd

Response No. 23:
I have had people try to sell our company "energy saving" TVSS devices. The documentation looked homemade and did not include any convincing explanation of how it was possible. When I asked technical questions, they said they didn't know but would arrange a lunch with the engineer. At lunch, my questions were answered with "well, unfortunately, I'm not an engineer"-- he didn't know anything either. They showed me "customer" graphs that were misleading, but did not show energy savings.

But they both continued to claim that they were great and that I could go see one in action. I eventually measured two in operation. Neither did anything to reduce energy usage, as I predicted. It's easy to measure because you can turn the TVSS breaker on and off with meter connected. Snake oil - don’t waste time on it!
Dan Heinze

Response No. 24:
I have been representing TVSS manufacturers for ten years. These claims appear from Redi-Volt & Stedi-Volt on a regular basis. They are unsupportable with engineering fact. Also, I have tested their products -- they are not top-of-the-line products. Check out these links. Here are the Websites:
Bob Doehrman

Response No. 25:
The only way a TVSS can claim energy savings is to compare the usage of energy by the TVSS among various TVSSs on the market. TVSSs use energy? Yes, they do! A TVSS is a semiconductor device. It is, in effect, a diode. Until it sees enough voltage to break down and conduct ("reverse conduct" - think DC, not AC, and it's a lot more understandable), it acts like any reversed-bias diode; it acts as a very high value resistor.

But, a diode has a resistance in the reverse direction ("blocking" direction). No matter how high a resistance it has, it still allows current to flow. Lets say our energy wasting TVSS allows 100 mA to flow at 120 volts. It uses 120 x .01 = 1.2 watts, or 120 x .01 x 24 x 30 = 864 watt-hours per month, or, 0.864 kWh per month.
Frank Elliott

Response No. 26:
The devices are extremely expensive, are usually only rated at 40 kA per phase, the sellers claim a lifetime warranty but when I checked a couple of years ago, the actual manufacturer only offered a five-year warranty. Also, take a look at their requirements to get the energy savings guarantee (electrical receipts for two years, etc.). You are right, PQ Assurance magazine referred to these guys as snake-oil. I'm glad someone finally sent in an E-mail asking about these guys.
Jim O'Neil

Response No. 27:
You’re on point... NO TVSS saves energy. The federal government has run several companies that made similar energy-saving claims out of business. The TV program 60 Minutes got involved too more than once. The founder of Innovative Technology was involved with similar claims for their early products and he was also involved with another company in Virginia years ago that sold TVSS devices making the same claims. It is my understanding that Innovative Technology no longer makes such claims. I know the Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning against surge suppressor companies that make "energy-savings" claims.

Deon Roberts (985-254-7828) a staff writer with the Daily Star (newspaper) in Hammond, LA is conducting an investigation of "Ener/Tech, the manufacturer of the TVSS branded Redi-Volt. This company is in their circulation area.

Our company filed a complaint with the State of Florida some months ago against the local Orlando dealer and little has come of it. The local sales representative continues to make unfounded claims and tries to sell the Redi-Volt products using that as his sales tactic. The worse part, the Redi-Volt product is not even a good quality TVSS device and it is sold at a very inflated price.

I know of several large companies that have been contacted and our company has been involved in exposing the lack of truth in their claims. I would be happy to join in any industry effort to get these scam artist/crooks out of business. They give the power quality industry and those associated with genuine effort in that regard a black eye.
John West

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