Monday, August 03, 2009

Air cooler blasts out ice cooled air and uses 96% less electricity than a window air conditioner!

Sometimes I actually like to read email spam because the claims are so hilarious. Today was the first time I had ever gotten a pitch for the "The Cool Surge eco-friendly air cooler":

The Cool Surge(R) eco-friendly air cooler blasts out ice cooled air, but uses about 96% less electricity than a typical window air conditioner. That way, you can stay cool for just pennies a day.

Sounds great! Of course, 96% less electricity seems a bit too good to be true.

So, I cut and pasted the first part of the sentence and googled it and quickly spotted a blog post that points out:

So essentially what the machine does is blow air over an icepack that you freeze in your freezer. This is nothing but an attempt to bilk poor people and people on fixed incomes out of money. They hope to take advantage of the ever rising energy prices to blind people to the laughable nature of any sort of cooling claims. You can buy a cheap window fan (that at least partial vents the heat from the fan) for 30 $$$ at a hardware store  and a freeze pack or 2 at your local grocery store for under 5 $$$. They want 300 $$$ PLUS shipping for their unit. What a joke. If you have ever taken your lunch to work with an ice pack in it, you know how well your cooler has to be insulated to make it work well. Try that in a house.

That's great. They were so careful to say "ice cooled air", expecting (correctly) that most people (including me) would read that as "ice cold air." Of course, no sane person would want to feel 32-degree air anyway.

Here is the description from the Cool Surge web site:

The Cool Surge portable air cooler is a work of engineering genius from the China coast so advanced that no windows, vents or freon are required. It's as easy to use as a baby's vaporizer and even includes two sets of the reusable glacier ice blocks. That gives you a total of eight hours of extra cooling power. It uses the same electricity as a light bulb, yet it blasts out ice cooled air. The hi-efficiency motor cools the air around the unit so you'll instantly feel cool and refreshed. The 3 cooling levels and auto shut off timer put all the comfort controls at your fingertips. It's so impressive that all transactions less shipping are backed by a full year limited warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

It does sound so "eco-friendly" with its "reusable glacier ice blocks."

Now, be careful to read the fine print... "gives you a total of eight hours of extra cooling power." But what if it is hot more than eight hours? Hmmm... 24 divided by eight is three, meaning you would need three of these units or six sets of those "reusable glacier ice blocks" if you live in a climate where you need A/C 24/7 to survive all day, plus the freezer capacity for all of those "reusable glacier ice blocks."

The FAQ is "useful":

HOW DOES THE COOL SURGE WORK?

It is a work of engineering genius that blasts out ice cooled air but only uses the same electricity as a 60 watt light bulb on the standard setting.

It's as easy to use as a baby's vaporizer and even includes the extra cooling power of 4 reusable glacier ice blocks. The glacier packs last 4-6 hours and are freezable and reusable.

Gee, that's a very helpful answer!

Here's another very important question and the "useful" answer:

HOW MUCH WILL THE COOL SURGE COOL A ROOM?

It depends on several factors including the size of the room, the humidity level, the room temperature on any given day, what type of windows, is the sun shining right into the room, how high the ceilings are...

Those are their ellipses. Actually, honestly, they did given the technically correct engineer's answer (and we know their engineer(s) was a "genius"): It all depends. No sane engineer would ever claim otherwise. If they had marketing answer this question they would say "A lot!". And the sales team would helpfully and cheerfully respond "All of it!"

Here's the real catch... At a cost of $356, that is $176 more than I paid for my window air conditioner. $176 will buy me a lot of electricity. And of course they do not alert you to the fact that you have to pay the cost of electricity for your freezer to "reuse" those "reusable glacier ice blocks." Unless... if you live in a place where the winters are very cold and you have an ice house, you could buy and freeze a zillion of those "reusable glacier ice blocks" and not pay a dime for freezing them.

The spam I got offered to sell me the Cool Surge for a $119 discount or $297 discount for two units that are "nearly perfect." The email says:

These units have minor, hard-to-find imperfections that keep us from selling them at regular prices, but they function perfectly saving you a ton compared to A.C. costs.

One other little nit to pick... a of the primary function and value of A/C is to remove humidity so that you feel cooler than if the humidty were higher. The Cool Surge has no such capability, other than the small amount of condensation that might form on the "reusable glacier ice blocks". After all, if it did remove humidity to the extent that a window A/C does you would end up with a large puddle of water on the floor or have to frequently drain a pan to accumulate the water.

-- Jack Krupansky

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