Short #86 – Hoodwinked
In this short podcast episode, Bryan talks about the times he has been hoodwinked in his career. It's time to name and shame.
One time at a trade show, Bryan came across a product called KVAR. KVAR is already an electrical term for kilovolt-amps reactive; those are volt-amps that show up and generate heat but don't do anything useful, just like foam in a beer mug. So, the product supposedly balanced out the power factor to save energy. However, power companies don't charge based on VA; they charge based on wattage, which already accounts for the power factor. So, the KVAR products made no actual difference; the KVAR motor was simple and very inefficient, which did little to improve energy savings.
Bryan was hoodwinked because he didn't ask the right questions. He should have asked about the difference between volt-amps and watts, and he should have asked to see hard data about energy savings.
Hoodwinking happens quite often in our industry; the only way we can prevent it from happening to us is to learn more and ask the right questions. So, how do we avoid hoodwinking? The best thing we can do is ask to see the data. Don't accept platitudes, graphs, or name-dropping; ask about the test methodology and specific details.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an area that has a high potential for hoodwinking. Unfortunately, the IAQ products' data is often incomplete and only tests for a few contaminants. While the products have the potential to do a lot of good, there is potential for deceptive marketing and lazy science.
Something to remember, however, is that not everybody who hoodwinks you has bad intentions. They sometimes don't understand what they're doing or are more familiar with marketing than science.
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