Fact or Fiction

There are many myths and misconceptions relating to Voltage Optimisation, about what savings can be made or where it is suitable to be applied. This page aims to identify the fact and fiction behind Voltage Optimisation and explain clearly, with substantiation where relevant, why the technology works as intended.

FACT: Voltage Optimisation from VPhase is recognised and approved by Ofgem

VPhase has concluded its CERT Demonstration Action, approved by Ofgem and in association with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE). The Demonstration Action was carried out in 50 homes in the Thatcham and Reading areas and has led to the VPhase device being awarded CERT credits for its proven ability to save at least 2.5kg of CO2 over the life of the CERT measure. (CERT is the Carbon Emission Reductions Target). VPhase is the only domestic Voltage Optimisation technology currently eligible for CERT.

FICTION: Voltage Optimisation has not been independently tested

VPhase Voltage Optimisation has been robustly tested. The device has gone through Ofgem approved testing as part of its CERT Demonstration Action. It has either completed or is undergoing trials with over 40 housing associations in the UK (at the time of writing, January 2012). SSE has installed the product at its zero carbon home development, Greenwatt Way, in Slough. Eco enthusiasts and celebrities such as Dick Strawbridge, Oliver Heath, Michael Holmes, Charlie Luxton, Joanna Yarrow, Julia Hailes and Julia Kendall have all had the unit installed in either their own properties or properties they have been involved with; and it has even featured on BBC One's DIY SOS program too.

Voltage Optimisation technology itself isn't new. It has been widely used in industry for many years, yet VPhase is the first company in the UK to bring the technology to the home.

FACT: VPhase Voltage Optimisation is proven to reduce energy consumption

Independently verified trials have demonstrated that the VPhase Voltage Optimisation device will save up to 12% off electricity bills, with the typical household saving around 10%. All appliances sold in the UK since the early 1990's have had to comply with EU legislation that says they must be able to function properly across the EU range of voltage. In reality, the EU range of voltage is as low as 207 volts and as high as 253 volts. Therefore by lowering and regulating the voltage to the default 220 volt level that VPhase does, household appliances, lighting and devices will work more efficiently at the lower voltage, using less electricity and therefore costing you less to run.

vphase money houseFICTION: Voltage Optimisation can't make savings on the whole house

A report published by DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change) in July 2010 indicated that 67% of domestic energy consumption is through appliances and lighting. Whilst it is true that Voltage Optimisation can't make savings on resistive loads, the rest of the house - all the lighting and most appliances - can benefit from Voltage Optimisation. Why resistive loads can't benefit is simply because less power in, means less heat will be generated - so the appliances will just have to be on longer to reach the desired temperature. However, pretty much everything else in the house can benefit from Voltage Optimisation - and all of the saving calculations quoted are for the savings potential of the whole house.

FACT: The VPhase is the only domestic Voltage Optimisation device to lower and regulate the incoming voltage in the home to a set point

The VPhase unit is currently the only Voltage Optimisation device on the market that can lower AND regulate the incoming voltage into the home to a set point. It is important to recognise the value in both lowering and regulating the voltage: if you just chopped the voltage you would introduce harmonics, and if you just lowered the voltage by a fixed amount some pieces of electronic equipment may not work, and you would be at greater risk of the negative effects of voltage drop.

FICTION: All Voltage Optimisation devices are the same

Not all Voltage Optimisation devices are the same. VPhase is the only domestic Voltage Optimisation device currently on the market that reduces the voltage AND optimises it. This is an important feature because it means less voltage fluctuation, smoother power supply and less stressing of appliances. The VPhase device is also the lowest cost, smallest sized and most widely tested and accredited domestic Voltage Optimisation device available.

FACT: The VPhase has a safety bypass system built in

The VPhase device has been cleverly designed to incorporate a safety bypass system, which ensures that at no point will the power supply to the house ever be lost as a result of the VPhase unit.

FICTION: If the VPhase fails, power to the house is lost

As the VPhase unit doesn't directly interrupt the power supply to the house (it's installed in parallel to the main supply), and has a safety bypass system built into the unit, if the VPhase fails for whatever reason, power to the house will not be lost.

FACT: VPhase can save up to 12% on electricity consumption in the home

VPhase has gone to great lengths to be able to substantiate the savings claims that it makes. Having conducted extensive tests across a range of properties and had the test results analysed and verified independently, we're confident that our device can achieve the savings we claim. Whilst actual test results demonstrated savings of up to 12%, the majority of savings cases grouped around the 10% mark.

FICTION: Power factor correction can save money off domestic electricity bills

In the UK, domestic households don't pay for power factor correction. This is something that industrial customers are penalised for, when the Power Factor of their equipment/electrical consumption is less than 100% efficient. Power Factor is a measure of how efficiently electrical power is consumed. The ideal Power Factor is one (unity). Anything less than one, means that extra power is required - ie it is not 100% efficient. Power Factor Correction is the term given to a technology that has been used to restore Power Factor to as close to one (unity) as is economically possible. It is important to note the distinction between Voltage Optimisation and power factor correction - they're two different technologies.

FACT: Voltage Optimisation can't make savings on heating circuits

Voltage Optimisation can't make any savings on resistive heating circuits. This doesn't mean that the devices or appliances will stop working, just that with less power going into them, they'll take longer to reach the desired temperature. So, any benefits from lowering and optimising the voltage will be lost through the longer time the appliances are on - cancelling each other out. The net impact is that the same amount of energy is used.

FICTION: Heating appliances use the most electricity in the home

Reports by DECC consistently highlight that 67% of domestic electricity consumption is from lighting and non-heating appliances in a home. Less than 8% of homes in England actually use electric heating systems too, dispelling many common assumptions regarding electrical use and heating in the home. Whilst your electrical shower may consume a lot of energy in a short time, it is not on all day, whereas your fridge and freezer are operating 24 hours a day.

FACT: The UK average voltage is 245V

Voltage supply in the UK is nominally at 230 volts, +10% -6%. This means that the range of voltage supply can be as high as 253 volts and as low as 216 volts. However, utility companies tend to supply voltage at the higher end of the range to avoid the problems of voltage drop (over distance) and to manage fluctuations in voltage as a result of changing demand levels for electricity.

FICTION: Utility companies can lower the voltage at the substation level without disrupting supply to the home

Whilst the voltage range in the UK is nominally at 230 volts, the reality is that supply is typically above 240V (the average being 245V). This is largely because of the supply infrastructure in the UK and the problems associated with voltage drop due to load changes and distance from the substation. Appliances are designed to operate effectively across the whole range (between 207V and 253V in the UK and Europe).If voltage was supplied at the lower end of the scale by the utility company, then properties furthest away from the substation risk experiencing 'brown outs' where a demand peak, causes a further supply voltage drop, and appliances are simply unable to work effectively on the lower voltage.

FACT: VPhase Voltage Optimisation will improve the payback and overall efficiency of a solar PV system

VPhase has modelled a range of complex simulations and scenarios to understand the relationship between Voltage Optimisation and solar PV systems. The results demonstrate that by combining the two systems, overall household energy efficiency is increased leading to a better return for the home owner.
Essentially the VPhase unit reduces the amount of energy consumed in the home, yet the amount of electricity produced by the solar PV remains the same. The net impact is that less electricity will be drawn from the Grid and potentially more exported from the PV system – a double benefit.

FICTION: Voltage Optimisation can't be used alongside other green tech

VPhase Voltage Optimisation is not an exclusive technology, in that it can be installed and used alongside other green technology options. In many cases, combining or bundling technologies together with a VPhase, will actually improve the overall efficiency of the property.

FACT: VPhase Voltage Optimisation is suitable for all types of properties

Unlike solar PV systems, VPhase Voltage Optimisation is suitable for all types of properties as it doesn't require a south facing roof or the sun to be shining to work. All properties that work on mains voltage can benefit from having a VPhase Voltage Optimisation device installed. The savings claims are based on the whole house saving potential and take into account energy efficient appliances. Savings will vary, but will largely be dependent on four main factors:
  1. The number and type of appliances used in the home
  2. The number of occupants in the home
  3. What the incoming voltage is
  4. What the VPhase set point is configured to

FICTION: Voltage Optimisation only works in large houses

VPhase has been proven to work in all sizes of property. Its trial with Great Places Housing Group, a North West based housing association demonstrated whole house electrical savings of 8.7%. The trial was carried out in a number of terraced properties managed by the housing association.

FACT: VPhase Voltage Optimisation from VPhase is easy to fit

Whilst the VPhase device must be fitted by a qualified electrician, they are easy to fit, particularly if being installed at the same time as a new consumer unit. The device should generally take no more than a couple of hours to fit.

FICTION: I need to re-wire my house to fit a VPhase unit

There is no need to re-wire your house to fit a VPhase unit. When installing the device, it is preferable that the heating circuits are not passed through the unit, so a 17th edition consumer unit is best, as this already has a split buzz bar. However, a 16th edition consumer unit can be reconfigured by an electrician, to make it suitable for a VPhase unit. However, older, wired fuse boards (without switches) generally cannot accept a VPhase unit.

FACT: VPhase Voltage Optimisation improves efficiency of energy saving lightbulbs and A-Rated fridges & freezers

Devices and appliances sold in the UK are designed to operate across the EU range of voltage (207V - 253V), yet supply in the UK is at the higher end of the statutory level, typically around 245 volts. Even energy saving lightbulbs (compact fluorescents) and A rated fridge freezers can benefit from being supplied with a lower level of voltage.

FICTION: Voltage Optimisation doesn't work on newer appliances and equipment

A common myth is that because newer appliances and equipment are designed to be more efficient, they can't make savings through Voltage Optimisation. Whilst equipment such as laptops and chargers use switch mode power supplies that typically delivers smaller savings with lower voltage, other appliances such as the energy efficient fridge freezer or energy saving lightbulbs do still make quite significant savings. In independently verified tests, savings of up 17% have been recorded with A rated fridges, and even energy saving lightbulbs are still registering savings around 10%.

FACT: VPhase Voltage Optimisation can extend the life of appliances

Research undertaken by Manchester University has confirmed that managing the voltage to a 220 volt set point will double the life of motor pumps and be beneficial for other appliances. In addition, independent work carried out by the Lighting Industry Federation has demonstrated that reducing the voltage supplied to incandescent light bulbs will extend the life of them. The voltage supply must still be within the operating guidelines (207V to 253V), so with VPhase optimising the voltage to 220V the bulbs are being supplied with an optimal level of voltage, just as the manufacturer's intended.

FICTION: Lowering the voltage to 220V will make appliances not work properly

All modern appliances and devices sold in the UK since the early 90's are designed to work across the EU voltage range (207V to 253V), so with the VPhase lowering the voltage to 220V, it is still well within the operating range indicated by the manufacturer. In fact, because Voltage Optimisation means you're not over-supplying the appliances or devices, there’s less excess voltage to cope with (often dissipated as heat, which is known to shorten appliance life) and there’s reduced strain on the appliance circuits.

More questions?

If you have any more questions that haven't been answered in this 'Fact or Fiction' feature, then please browse our FAQ section, watch our , or Contact Us directly for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

We realise the VPhase device is a technical product,but to help you understand more about it and the features you can benefit from – read our Frequently Asked Questions, HERE

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