I had seen the VPhase voltage optimisation briefly on one of those home remodelling shows but they didn't mention the name of the device at the time. Recently I found out the name of the device as VPhase plc were the runner up in the Shell Springboard 2011 award. So we can now take a look at what it actually does.
Voltage optimisation is not something new, it has been used commercially to reduce electricity costs for years. A consumer unit for households called the VPhase does the same job for homes. It works by regulating the incoming voltage into the home to give a consistent 220V supply.
The result of this is that your household electrical appliances use less electricity typically saving about 10% on your electricity bill. The main benefit of this technology is that once the device is fitted you do not have to do anything else. It just works away in the background saving you money and reducing the amount of carbon that you produce.
The voltage around the UK varies from 207v to 253v. Typically voltages above 220v means wasted energy. The higher your voltage the more energy you are wasting, this means it is costing you more to run your electrical appliances. As voltage varies so much you need to find out what voltage your home is receiving. You can do this with a plug in power and energy monitor, this simply plugs into any power socket and will tell you what your voltage is.
A plug in energy monitor can be purchased for much less than £20 from Amazon. These are great for seeing how much each appliance in your home uses as well. You simply plug it in the wall and it will display the voltage. If you then plug in any appliance such as a kettle and switch the kettle on it will show you how much energy your appliance is using.
I plugged in and tested my voltage which turned out to be 236v, this means that a VPhase unit should save me money. I was also surprised to see how much energy some appliances actually use. It's a great way to find out which devices are the energy hungry ones.
The device costs about £250 but you can get it supplied and fitted for £300 including VAT. For a typical household you will have saved 300 quid's worth of electricity after about 5 years. The device itself is designed to work for at least 25 years. Over that time you could be about £1,200 better off, even more so as the price of electricity rises over that time.
They recommend that you first test the voltage going into your home as the higher your incoming voltage the more money you will save. However if you already have a low incoming voltage you are not going to save any money. You can test this safely and easily yourself with a plug in power meter that doesn't require any tools, if you can plug in a plug you can use one of these meters.
According to VPhase you will save money if your voltage is above 220 volts, the higher it is the more potential there is to save. Typically the closer you are to the local station the higher your voltage will be. The only way to be sure is to check your voltage with a meter.
Whilst the VPhase VX1 has been independently tested and shown to typically save around 10% for the average household there are a few things to consider. Reducing the voltage will mean that space heaters, kettles and incandescent lights (the old style light bulbs) will be less powerful. This means it will take longer for your electrical space heater to heat the room, your kettle will take slightly longer to boil and your old style bulb will appear less bright.
The actual unit itself is quite large and so you will need enough room near to your consumer unit for it to be installed. Installation typically takes about 2 hours. After installation the unit should not need any ongoing maintenance and last for at least 25 years.
Some independently verified trials show that savings range from 6% up to 12% which translates to an annual saving of between £75 and £135. This means the unit could pay for itself in 2 to 4 years, the manufacturer claims a maximum of 5 years.
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