sparking wire unsafe electrics

‘Dangerous’ energy saving devices sold on eBay as household bills soar

Image credit: Dreamstime

Highly dangerous devices that claim to save users money on electricity bills are being sold to consumers as energy prices soar, a charity has revealed.

Electrical Safety First found some of the devices for sale on eBay, one of which was brought to the charity’s attention by adverts online promoting the devices as a way of making big savings on energy bills.

It purchased four samples of plug-in devices purporting to either save energy or ‘stabilise electrical current’ and sent them to an independent lab for specialist testing. All four samples purchased were found to have failed basic safety standards, risking fires and electric shocks.

One test designed to demonstrate the product’s capability to safely handle a short circuit led to the device exploding, sending fragments of hot glowing metal into the air (pictured).

Initial Spark Breaking Plug During Testing

Image credit: electrical safety first

The investigation builds on previous research by the charity a decade ago, which found that not only were similar devices electrically unsafe but previous claims around energy savings were unjustified.

Further testing of these latest devices demonstrated basic failures in design, including the size and dimension of plug pins. In one instance the plug pins were so badly positioned that the user risked damaging their mains wall socket in trying to use the device.

Energy saving claims are broadly linked to internal ‘capacitors’ which can ‘smooth the electrical current’. In one of the devices tested the capacitor was not connected internally, rendering the component useless.

The findings come as household energy bills soar to hit a new all-time high, as fears over supplies from Russia continued to rock the market.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, commented: “Claims surrounding energy savings will undoubtably be more attractive to people during this time yet the devices we have tested could cost you your safety. Given the current climate and hardship people are facing, the safety failures present in each of these devices are even more contemptible. We urge everyone to buy from a reputable retailer that you know and trust to protect yourself from dangerous goods.”

The charity shared its findings with the Advertising Standards Authority and the Office for Product Safety & Standards who immediately asked eBay to delist the products and updated the information on its Product Safety Database.

On contacting eBay the products were swiftly removed for sale. Electrical Safety First was also informed that the marketplace had conducted a further sweep for devices on its platform and subsequently removed 145 listings.

An eBay spokesperson said: “We take product safety extremely seriously, and welcome the information provided to us by Electrical Safety First about these products. In addition to our block filter algorithms and security teams monitoring the site, we work closely with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure eBay remains free of unsafe products.

“In this instance, our close working relationship with Westminster Trading Standards enabled the swift removal of these products through our Regulatory Portal.”

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