The "Renewable Industry" has a severe lack of scruples and suffers heavily from "Publication Bias" - i.e. a products technical brochure can say anything they want and the customer and the seller (they should know better) take what they say as the truth - BECAUSE IT IS WRITTEN DOWN!!! - and literally waste thousands of euros on bogus falsehoods.
It is a brave new world and to some extent the Algarve is at the forefront of this with renewable tech - it is gloriously sunny place which is ideal to push the boundries of various products.
I am a self-confessed geek so I am the first to test new devices, and their claims, and I get quite excited when a distributor introduces something new into our market place - and, unfortunately, quite often I am dissapointed.
To be honest - I have been guilty of this in the past - and I have introduced a product into the market based on its promise, the distributors claims, and how cool it looks - and it has caused me pain, time and money to put it right.
I quite often get asked why I do not stock a particular product when my competitor down the road has the latest money saving thing that will revolutionise the industry - as if I am somehow behind the curve - and always the answer is ...
"Because I have seen it failing in the field or tried it before and it does not do what it says in the brochure" ....
I have a BIAS BUSTER checklist for any new product and it is worth your time to use this as well before you sign on the dotted line ...
- NEWBUTOLD - Has this technology been around for a while but is advertised as the LATEST THING? - a quick google search should confirm your suspicions - i.e. if it has been around for a while "Why hasn't it caught on?"
- REBRAND - Is it from a recognisable manufacturare or does it look like a re-brand? i.e. mass produced in China and a logo simply stuck on the side. The Chinese export website ALIBABA is your friend here
- REVIEWS - Can you find any reviews or forums discussing the merits or lack of merit for the product?
- GEOSPECIFIC - Is it geospecific? i.e. meant for colder/dry/humid environments - the Algarve is HUMID and suffers from extremes of temperatures - and some products simply do not survive a season in the harsh climate
- ENDORSEMENT - Does this product have any accreditation, recomendation, or endorsment from any government agencies - the US and UK specifically as they have much stronger consumer groups.
- 3CUSTOMERS - Do you know more than 3 people who has this particular product installed? i.e. it is easy to pull 1 product champion out of a hat - but 3 gets much closer to reality
- NEWSWORTHY - Have you seen this product discussed in any major publications vindicating its claims? - i.e. BBC, CNN, Techradar. Business Week etc
Below is a list of products which I think require careful consideration before you give away your hard earned euros:
Currently touted as an alternative to traditional thermal solar. It works like a heatpump with refrigerant but instead of using a coil and fan assembly the panel has the refrigerant pumped around it which "draws" heat from the ambient air.
INFRA-RED HEATING PANELS
Infrared heaters use electricity and claim to gain energy savings by using radiation and not traditional convection (like radiators) so they don't heat air, only objects in the room. But they are controlled (if they are controlled at all - in many cases they are left running) with a sensor that measures air temperature - this means that they will only switch off once the radiated objects have heated the air by convection!
Because far infrared technology does not heat the air of the room directly it is very often dimensioned wrong and it is important to maximise the exposure of available surfaces - which absorb the radiant heat. i.e. you need a lot more than you think to get an equivalent heat output. This is where the mis-selling occurs as they are easy to take away and install so too few are sold which gives an unrealistic expectation of its efficiency - in reality so many are needed with a proportional running cost that they are nowhere near as efficient as alternative renewable technologies.
The Algarve is damp and it gets to your bones in the winter - these do not cure the damp like normal central heating does...
Come back to Penguin when you get your electricity bill ;)
SOLAR VACUUM TUBES
REALLY??!! - you have installed these? The Algarve suffers from extreme heat and vacuum tubes do not stagnate and dissipate heat - which simply makes them pop! Install these at your peril ....
PhotoVoltaic Pool Filtration Pumps
I thought these were such a neat idea when they first came out. They are totally off grid and they work purely when the sun shines. I hedged my bets and only installed a well know German brand (there are lots of Chinese copies). In all I installed about 10 systems ... and every one (100%) of them failed. The pumps connect directly to the panels and run using a DC supply - this makes the pump itself relatively expensive and when it goes wrong they are expensive to fix. AND BOY DID THEY GO WRONG!!! - the problem is they take a real hammering as they are constantly running leading inevitably to component failure, unhappy customers and green pools. There are alternative, cheaper solutions which are just as effective and more reliable ...
Electro Osmosis Damp Proofing systems
This is the most dubious thing I have ever come across...