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Misrepresented products?

15 July 2020

I tend to check out PBTech's daily-deal page from time to time and today I found something that has me scratching my head.

It is the Levante Polar 14 portable aircon de-humidifier and heater unit (or is it a heater?).

Firstly, I question the utility of such a device and secondly, I think PBTech may be incorrect in their description of the device as having a "4Kw heating capacity".

Obviously, if this thing is portable then it must run from a wall-outlet and that limits the maximum energy-draw to about 2KW with regular household wiring and fusing.

So how do they get 4.1KW of cooling and 4KW of heating?

Well that's obviously down to the efficiencies of heat-transfer technology. Heat pumps work not by creating heat but by simply "moving" it from one place to another. It takes a lot less than 4KW to move 4KW of heat using a pump, hence the claimed efficiencies.

However, the claims made for this unit really don't seem to hold water on closer inspection.

Firstly, in the headline description they claim this has a 4KW heating capacity but nowhere else does it make any mention of a heating function.

Neither the product description nor the specifications make any mention of a heater mode.. simply "cool, dehumidify, fan" modes.

So can it be used as a heater?

I doubt it.

Then there's an issue surrounding its use as a portable air-con.

If you're generating 4.1KW of effective cooling, just where is that heat going to go?

You can't destroy heat and a heat-pump based aircon simply shifts the heat from one place to another... so where is the "another" place used by this unit?

The answer is in one of the pictures which appears as a tiny thumbnail on the PBTech product page.

There is a place where you attach a large hose which obviously exhausts heated air. In aircon mode, the machine removes the heat from air drawn into it and then transfers that heat to air that is blown out the hole to which the hose is attached. In the picture the unit can be seen operating in a bedroom with the exhaust hose hanging out the window.

Um... excuse me?

If the window's open then isn't warm (outside) air going to be able to come in and effectively negate the cold air being created by the unit itself?

Yes, you may get a small draft of cool air blowing directly out of the machine but if you need to have an open window to use this machine and if the machine needs to be positioned near enough to that open window for the hose to reach then this is just like turning on the aircon in your car then winding down the windows as you cruise down the motorway.

There will be *some* degree of cooling but you'll be using an inordinate amount of power to achieve very little and the net result will be an overall warming of the planet :-)

For more clarification I figured it might be better to look at the official manufacturer's website.

On that site they have this video which makes it somewhat more clear how this thing tries to mitigate the open window situation but very interestingly, has no audio. Could it be that this thing is pretty loud when in operation? I see no sound-level figures in the "specifications" section.

I also see no mention at all of any "heating capacity" on the official website so I suspect that if someone sees this and thinks "great, I'll have a 4KW heater if I buy one", they will be sorely disappointed.

The general concensus is that portable air conditioning units are pretty marginal at best and in no way do they represent as much value or produce as much efficiency as a proper heat pump or "installed" aircon unit. (cite).

And while I'm in the process of concerns over claims being made on the interwebs, I went to the Spark broadband website last night to check on what form of internet was available at a location here in Tokoroa. There were two options... fibre and "Metro Wireless".

The interesting thing (and worrying from a consumer perspective) is that Metro wireless was the default setting and carried a "recommended" rating. ScreenShot.

What the hell is going on here Spark? The price of wireless and fibre are the same but wireless gets hellish-congested at peak times and comes with some pretty crippling data-caps if you're a heavy Netflix or YouTube user. Also, while there is no "installation" charge for wireless, there are some pretty stingy fees for cancelling within the minimum contract period.

Well obviously Spark are pushing wireless (despite the drawbacks) because they get to pocket *all* the money -- unlike fibre, where Chorus gets to clip the ticket as well. It is obvious that for this reason, Spark is (I honestly believe) unreasonably suggesting that 4G wireless is "better" than fibre when I know from personal first-hand experience that the reverse is true. A breach of fair trading principles? I don't know... you tell me.

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