Power4Patriots ReviewPosted on November 14th, 2012 22 comments
I’ve been hearing an ad on the radio lately about a discovery that the power company doesn’t want you to know about from a guy named Frank Bates. He mentions that he could get in a lot of trouble for talking about it and calls the power companies and the government “incompetent, lying crooks who are counting on your ignorance and fear to keep your electric bills and heating bills criminally high.” OK, I’m intrigued, so what’s this guy selling?
He wants to show you the secret of how he beat ‘em, and how you can beat ‘em too. It’s described as a “weird” trick on the website. It sounds almost too good to be true. You can hear the commercial along with a video at the Power4Patriots website.
Upon looking further into what Mr. Bates is selling, I discovered it’s a CDROM and downloadable access to a series of pdf ebooks (about 300 pages total) and videos covering the topics of solar and wind energy. Much of it involves DIY information on how to build your own solar panels, wind turbines, and solar water heaters from components you can find in local hardware stores and online for less than you can buy equivalent off-the-shelf products. The value of this ‘package’ is $297, but with the 90% discount, the CD and downloads can be yours for only $27 + 2.99 S&H. After purchasing it, you’ll find that if you pay $67 more, you get a physical spiral bound book along with 3 DVDs that also cover solar and wind DIY projects which is basically the same material, just in a format that might be more convenient for you. If you turn that down, you’ll be offered the printed book for another $27. After that, you’ll be offered heirloom seeds for another $67 to help you through any upcoming societal collapse. So there’s a lot of upselling going on after the initial $27 investment. I’m also now on the email list and I suspect I’ll be hearing a lot more from the company in the future.
How do I know this? I know this because I invested the $29.99 in the ebook/CDROM product. After all, what kind of blogger would review a product he didn’t own? I gotta tell you, this guy’s good. I’m surprised I got out without spending another $134 for the physical book/DVDs and heirloom seeds.
You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard all the fuss about how Chinese solar panels are coming down in price so fast that they are putting companies out of business that were trying to manufacture solar panels in the U.S. Witness what happened with Solyndra and Abound Solar.
One of the ebooks and 6 of the videos are related to making your own solar panels. I was curious to see just how cheap these homemade panels would be and the book shows a bill of materials of $175 for a 65 watt panel. That’s almost $3/watt not including your labor, and the amount of labor looks quite substantial. I’d estimate the labor at 10 hours per panel or more. That’s not cheap, especially now that you can get manufactured panels that are $1/watt that are already assembled and guaranteed. The manufactured panels are designed to last 25 years, are safety agency-approved, and can withstand all kinds of weather, including hail up to 1 inch in diameter. So trying to roll your own solar panels would be a waste of time and money. And the cost of a solar system doesn’t just depend just on the panel cost. The inverter costs about $.50/watt which is quite expensive in the grand scheme of things, or about half of what you’d be paying for the panels.
And then there’s the installation cost. Of course, you can do the installation yourself if you’re capable and comfortable working on roofs. Once you add in the other ancillary parts and equipment, you can put together a solar system for about $2/watt these days using off-the-shelf components. That’s about half of what they cost just 4 years ago, thanks primarily to the drop in panel costs.
A typical house in the U.S. uses about 730 kWh in electricity per month. To satisfy this need, you are looking at approximately a 5 kW system. That system would cost about $10,000 for materials even if you’re handy and can do the installation yourself. With U.S. electricity rates now at an average at $.12/kWh, it would take about 10 years to pay for itself. That’s not too bad, considering most things you buy for your home will just depreciate over time and not save you a dime, let alone break even or start making you money in the long run. My grid-tied solar system is 5.6 kW and I haven’t purchased any electricity since it was installed nearly 4 years ago but I do get charged about $8/month to be connected to the grid. I have accumulated a surplus (about 5000 KWh) on the meter that could run an electric car for more than 20,000 miles.
The radio commercials imply that you could slash your energy bills and live free of these greedy utility companies but you cannot do that if you install a grid-tied solar system with net metering, which is the most common kind. To disconnect from your utility company, you’d need to have a battery storage system, a charge controller, and a backup generator for those times that you may have a few cloudy days in a row. A set of batteries that would hold a day’s charge of 24 kWh would cost at least another $4K and generator would add another $1K to it. So you’re looking at a much bigger expense when you talk about completely disconnecting from the power grid, I’d say at least $5K more. And those batteries would need to be replaced every 6 years or so. That makes the whole payback period kind of a moot point because of this extra recurring expense so unless you live in an area where there is no grid power, or you believe we are on the verge of complete societal collapse, it’s hard to justify an off-grid system when you can get away with the less expensive grid-tied solar system.
There are some other books included in the package related to making and installing a wind turbine (probably good for 5-10% of the average household energy needs), and some simple solar hot water and solar hot air DIY projects. Bonus materials include ebooks on surviving disasters, storing emergency water, and building a solar cooker.
So for $27, you get 10 ebooks all of which contain some useful information, especially if you’re into renewable energy or worrying about Armageddon. I didn’t feel ripped off afterwards, although the quality of some of the graphic images in the pdf files was pretty poor. I don’t know what the printed materials might look like, but the numbers on many of the charts were unreadable like the image shown below.
I’m always intrigued when I hear an over-the-top advertisement for an energy product. Most of the time they turn out to be truly worthless and horrible investments. But this one is harmless enough, and you might even find a few good ideas for your $27. But don’t get your hopes up that you’ll take your electric and heating bills down to nothing without a significant investment in time and money even if you follow all of the DIY information in the ebooks.
22 responses to “Power4Patriots Review”
Thank you for the review. I have a few questions I was wondering if you would take the time to answer?
1. Though you yourself did not feel “ripped off” did you discover any new ideas or information worth the $30 you spent on this product or do you think you received a fair amount of generaly free knowledge packaged at a reasonable price? If so, what information do you think carries that $30 value?
2. Have you yourself built or attempted to build any of the components(Solar Panels, the Wind Turbines or Solar Water Heater)? If so, do you plan to blog those results? If not, do you know someone who has?
3. Based on your own technical skills, on a scale of one to ten, where one is incomprehensible and ten is outsatnding easy to understand. Where would you rate the step by step DVD manual instructions for assembly of any of the given components?
4. Did you contact Power4Patriots in regards to the blurry PDF given as an example in your review? If so, what was thier response? Did they offer to update the image or images?
Thank you for taking time to review my questions. I look forward to you reply. Should you know of someone or somewhwere (another blog or a website) that may contain more detailed information pertaining to the Power4Patriots system please post or forward me the information.
Hi Brian, Thanks for your comment. I did not try to build any of the solar panels or wind turbines. As I mentioned in the article, I already have a solar array for my house that is assembled from commercial panels and that as the cost of these panels have come down over the years, it makes less sense to build a solar panel as a DIY project.
I have another book on making your own wind turbines, but my opinion of wind turbines is that they are useful if you’re off the grid and have a lot of land with good wind conditions. In a residential neighborhood like mine, you need to have a ‘fall zone’ where if the turbine were to blow over, it would have to land on your property and so that’s not practical to do for most people who live in a city.
If things really go south and the doomsday preppers are right, these ebooks and videos would certainly be valuable since the energy grid and Internet may have gone away and so one might look at having them like an insurance policy for a future armageddon where this kind of knowledge would be in short supply and high demand. The instructions were detailed with clearly written bills-of-material and step-by-step instructions on how to build the items. I’m quite confident that if I were to use them to build the items from components, they contain sufficient detail.
The poor graphics were generally limited to some government-generated graphs that could be found elsewhere (like heating degree days, insolation or wind speed charts, etc.) I was contacted by a representative of the company who found the review and thanked me for it saying they are always looking for ways to improve their products, so it’s possible something will be done to improve them in the future.
The videos were well done, easy to follow and I think they were well produced (i.e., they weren’t a cheesy, quickly thrown together videos like you find many times on YouTube). I’d give them a rating of 8 out of 10.
To be honest, listening to the commercials on the radio, I was expecting a PFC correction device or some kind of energy product ripoff that are common with energy saving ‘inventions’ sold via high pressure sales techniques, so I was relieved that it was an information product. True, much of the information could be found in other sources and in various locations on the internet, but it is nice to have it all packaged up in a single product.
I did not find any other reviews while searching around that weren’t done by people who seemed to either have a relationship with the company or of a ‘whistle-blower’ type review by someone who said it was just information you could find elsewhere (which is true of most information).
So again, I didn’t feel like I was ripped off based on the cost. Most ebooks you can buy today are in the same cost range per page and if you want to ‘upgrade’ to the printed book and physical DVDs, you also have that option (at additional cost).
I got this program also. I understand its stupid to read reviews after I already spent the money but I did. This review is dead on. Nice to see someone with an honest review. Not just bashing for the hell of it.
BriHeart January 11th, 2013 at 19:50
Lee seems to be a very competent guy with a good sense of what is truly practical .. KUDOS.
Rick Smith January 27th, 2013 at 23:57
I have not bought this product as of yet however, I do have a post graduate education in sustainability and renewable energy. I’m not bragging but I’m trying to qualify my statements. I’m not a bleading heart liberal but I do ‘drink the koolaid’ when it comes to alternative energy for many reasons.
The one obvious thing that hit me is why not geothermal? Fact- by digging down at least six feet around your property and burrying a closed-loop system which can be commercialy made or DIY with PVC, you can maintain your residence at a constant 72 degrees year round. It may be a little bit of work to rip up your yard but if you have a friend or know someone with experience in running the needed machines, its easy and the system once installed will last for 200 years. Geothermal can be achieved anywhere and leaves PV (solar) and turbine (wind) in the dust. Too much energy is lost with carry capacity and efficiency with the afformentioned. Solar is only about 55% efficient if done by a contractor because they don’t know or care about the needed array adjustments that are needed by follow the right azimuth. I do believe that you can do a lot of this on your own if you have the time and since wind credits are over as of Jan 1 and solar looks to be not too far behind, the one that will still be subsidized is geothermal if your DIY components can be written off at the end of the year.
I don’t want to ramble but I do agree that with a little education like these CDs and manuals, anyone could do a better job than those scumbag install folks. If you choose to use them, make sure you are the one calling the shots and watching them like a hawk. Finally, what I find frustrating is that my HOA has a conniption when I get going on something like this. If I even had the space for a turbine, they would burn it to the ground. At least with geothermal, it could be done in one day, the sod could be laid and I would be laughing because I would tell them I was replacing the grass because of grub damage and they would’nt even question it because they don’t want grubs creeping into their yard.
Have fun everyone. Sounds solid to me and I concur that it was great that a blogger actually took the time to sniff this out. Thanks.
Please tell us more about Geothermal systems.
mahesh February 8th, 2013 at 08:52
from what i understand, geothermal is quite expensive to install (about $20,000 in Massachusetts) and you need easy access for equipment to enter your yard/backyard for the installation to be done. thus, i can’t use it because of the inital cost & because access to open space isn’t easy in boston (building density is high).
regarding solar panels, people often don’t consider the *real* TCO (total cost of ownership) which includes maintenance and replacement. i do not know the current state of the art but i find it hard to believe that a solar panel can go 25 years without damage and without degradation in performance. any third-party solar panel installation service i’ve talked to typically doesn’t save me too much on the total bill after their monthly fees are taken into account. not quite the free energy that solar promises . i have no desire to spend time on maintaining the quality & health of the solar or geothermal system. i’d rather pay the utilities to do that.
Thank you Lee for a real, frank and well researched review. It has saved me the 20 plus minutes hype and yet is a decient product and information.
Thanks to Rick, for his comments on the geothermal loop which I would like to know more about.
James Barclay March 1st, 2013 at 18:57
I was going to write to you about the complications and expense- and dangers of geothermal, but I decided not to except to say that if you have some amazing technical knowledge and know-how and the megabucks to back it, you’ll not be doing it anytime soon. but you are allowed in our America to dream the impossible dream and go for it. My blessings go with you.
I enter into this blog as, and throughout remain as, a “questioner”, never an “accuser”.
I do like Mr. Devlin’s seeming “objectivity”.
However: The matter regarding the promotion of the Power4Patriots material as he and others comment on here remains quite a bit more complex in my view. As to the complexities allow me to supply only a relatively few examples here, and not a more complete review.
1. Mr. Devlin, in effect, it seems to me, remains very careful, in the words he writes to not “libel” this Mr. “Frank Bates”. The name itself, “Frank Bates represents perhaps a “false name” or pseudonym, I simply have no clear idea, and I too have done at least some “homework” on this subject.
2. I do seem to agree with Mr. Devlin, I found Mr. Bates’ presentation, on the internet, shall I say “smooth”, or, as to another word I one might (probabilistic sense of this “modal” verb) employ “slick”, as, for example (but not necessarily limited thereto,) a word one might use for the patter of a “snake oil salesman”, of yesteryear.
3. On the other hand, how do we, except perhaps Mr. Devlin and Mr. Bates,
know Mr. Devlin, does not, as well, represent a promoter, in an even deeper and more subtle way, of Mr. Bates’ CD’s, with, shall I say, a “stake-in-action”, even a rather direct and profitable one?
4. Based on my research with the United States Postal Service (USPS), etc., on this very subject of “Power4Patriots”, the $2.99 “postage & handling” fee charged for the CD-ROM sent out represents, at minimum, something like approximately $1.62 for “handling”, as a “presorted” (PRSRT) “bound printed material” (BPM), which can only become sent out in groups of either 300 minimum as PRSRT or if also bearing a “Bar Code” a minimum of 50 in each bulk mailing. If my researches and calculations correct that means the underlying operation behind other publications such as the ones handled under the name “Power4Patriots”, yields either approximately four-hundred-eighty-five dollars ($485) or eighty dollars ($81). For a worker even paid at a rate of say $20/hour to mail by hand the material, that would make a very tidy extra profit, more or less minimally, of $60-460 and in fact probably hugely more, i.e., maybe even in the thousands for the way these mailings of the CD-ROM get handed out in “bulk” presorted, bar coded batches.
5. The CD’s themselves can become reproduced and packaged in their individually imprinted mailing “envelopes” cost something like maybe $1.10 each, for a production run of 1,000 copies, or even well under a dollar for the next level of 2,500 copies @88 cents ($0.88 per copy), and even lower for bigger runs.
6. Further research indicates the “Frank” on the sales internet video may even turn out as actor and none of the information the actor sends out there as true.
7. So far at this writing, I don’t yet have a reasonable “production cost” for each of the CD-ROM’s content as mailed out, but say for an overall run of one-hundred thousand (100,000) CD-ROMs as completed, say $100,000 all costs potentially get covered by a total say of maybe two-dollars ($2.00) per CD-ROM mailed out to Mr. Devlin, me, or any other consumer. That turns out potentially as a profit overall of maybe twenty-five dollars ($25.00) each CD-ROM.
8. Now in the end, though possibly fully legal, in terms of federal and/or state laqw (and maybe not), this represents in one of my meanings for the word, a “scam” pure and simple. Another word, as to my meaning as I might employ it, it represents a “fraud”, pure and simple, etc.
9. As indicated at the beginning I could put down more “suspicious” evidence, to my view, I’ve so far gathered.
In conclusion, I do hope Mr. Devlin, you do have a “legitimate” blog, and therefore you will publish this. And, again, I emphasize I accuse no one of anything in a manner that would constitute (in particular) a libel (as written). I’ve just reported some of what I’ve put together so far. If any want the CD-ROM great, even if somewhat of a “scam”. In one sense of meaning, now that I’ve done the research I have I find what I’ve discovered as “laughable” in a sardonic humor sense, i.e., as rather a sardonic “joke”.
Hope this all proves useful to others for the hours of additional research I’ve just done today while writing what here appears.
Dear H., I can assure you that I am not affiliated with this company. I do promote other products on my site, including products for which I earn a commission, but this program is not one of them. I’ve written some other reviews on energy products (Cool Surge, and Heat Surge, and the Energy Saver 3000) that are not very flattering and I pride myself in being objective. When I first heard the radio ad for this program, I was pretty sure it was going to be a scam like a power factor correction device, since that’s how scams are often advertised, in a slick presentation style that you’re about to be let in on something ‘secret’. But in the end, the program was a set of e-books and videos, all of which had some value and so I was relieved when I found out it wasn’t some kind of a scam. I use solar energy at my home and haven’t purchased any electricity from the power company in 4 years. I’d like to see more people do the same. Even if the e-books don’t convince someone to build their own solar energy or wind energy system, they will at least educate the purchaser on the technology and get them thinking about it, which I think is a good thing. I’d like to see people become more self-reliant and less dependent on the power grid and the fossil fuels we use to keep it running.
I hope I do not seem too forward in leaving off the formality of the honorific “Mr.” and your last name, as I did use them in formality in my first blog to your blog site, out of a sense of respect and courtesy for you, at minimum, as another human being like myself.
I do like the less formal first name basis I now take the liberty of using –I hope without offense to you, as I have intended none in either my first blog posting or this follow-up one.
The fact you did publish my comment I find admirable and bespeaks a great deal more to me about your “legitimacy”, “forthrightness”, “honesty”than any amount of words you might have written in bothering to reply to my posting as well.
I have no specific argument with your reply. If Buying Power4Patriots at $29.99 a pop satisfies someone in their need to spend money for something the underlying “Power4Patriots” empire at a profit of about $25.00 a “pop” puts out there, (with perhaps hundreds of thousands of copies sold,) then more “Power” (for Patriots) to them the buyers — sardonic pun here intended.
My wife and I paid out a total of $59.98 for two CD copies, the extra copy unintentional on our parts, yet charged for by the company people that sent it. I did not open the prepackaged CD’s, and we plan to send them back, (within 60 days or you lose your money it now seems,) finally realizing, after great original care, I had become most likely “scammed” – something, under like circumstances I seldom if ever do under similar circumstances.
As I wrote as suggesting in my original posting, I learned more than I outlined there. I type very slowly with relatively poor editing (few “fast twitch” fibers in my fingers, remaining a problem limiting my touch typing speed to at most about 35 wpm and usually a lot slower, even though I largely do know how to “touch-type”.)
My wife when backing out the driveway to mail the DVDs back actually caused significant damage to her car (a day or two after to my recall from when I first posted to your blog and awaited for your approval in posting it so it would appear.)
Because we have insurance coverage the insurance company people will pay to get the car repaired, in the amount that may, exceed our $1,000.00 deductible – if it does, as it most probably will.
They (the insurance company people), and most certainly not the potentially ersatz “Power4Patriots” people won’t of course pay for the aggravation my having purchased the DVDs, and other matters, may have actually help lead to her accident. I could well argue, to my perception, the misleading nature of the original ad I saw on the Internet almost certainly led at least in part to a not totally insignificant portion of the $1,000 deductible we’ll have to pay regardless, to get the car fixed (though of course it will never “be the same”.)
So, in one manner of “speaking” (“writing” in this case) my getting fooled by the Internet promotion helped cause us, overall, more than just the $59.98 (for two DVDs inclusive of double postage and handling even though sent together in the same larger envelop enclosing the two separately packaged DVDs, for the same “postage and handling” as it would have taken for sending just one DVD or the two DVDs separately.)
We of course will have to foot the bill and the significant amount of other time and expense to return the merchandise, something I think think this supposed “Frank Bates” doesn’t warn you of in the Internet very “sophisticated” sales video.
Now because of the “agony” I go through in writing any blog posting I most likely will not write much more to your blog.
Lee, as I presume the “web-master” for your blog site, you have access to the e-mail address I supplied in registering. You might like to consider — in the case you might wish to privately contact me in accordance with the following proposal: send me an e-mail to the e-mail address you have for me with a return address I can address you privately at, and I will supply you personally with my private phone number which you can then “choose” to call me at so we can “talk”. I think you might find it quite “edifying” if you did.
On getting my private number, if you wish to call me from a “call blocked” number that will remain fine with me. You can, even in a very brief while set up a special e-mail address with say Yahoo, that will further protect your identity. I will take the chance you will not misuse the fact that you then have my “private” phone number, which you could use to reverse look me up, where I live, etc.. That chance I will take. Either I privately will hear from you or not, the decision remains yours to make.
In goodwill and caritas to all, I remain,
P.S. I normally consider almost anything I write, even to your or other’s blog sites, as copyrighted by me or any of the entities I in any particular case represent. I do so in the technicle meaning of the term as “common law copyright”, thus I here append the following:
©2013, by “Hugh”, CC licensed use permitted.
Mhyke April 1st, 2013 at 12:40
Thanks very much for your review. It provides much more information than the Power4Patriots video.
I didn’t like the false premise of the video. namely that there is a power conspiracy to prevent patriots from accessing alternative energy.
If that is the case, then why do power companies provide subsidies, the government provide tax credits, and billions of public money being spent on researching solar, wind, geo, and other forms of alternative energy.
If Mr. Bates was such a patriot he would point out that much of the information he provides is already on the Web.
I purchased the P4P CD-ROM system. I was unimpressed with the documentation, mainly due to the lack of detail. Take for instance the videos on how to make a solar panel; more time was spent on how to make an angle cut in the frame then how to wire the series of cells for proper function. Needless to say there is no video on what to do with your panel once it is completed. In all I would say that the package is a hodgepodge of materials on the principle of solar and wind and no real help on how to go about putting together a working system.
One good thing, the money back return does work, as I did receive a full refund.
Catherine April 15th, 2013 at 09:37
I’m always suspicious of angry accusations about “Oh-bah-ma!” when you want my money, esp since “Oh-bah-ma!” was suggesting the costs wuld go up as tied to getting people into alternative energy… what THIS guy is selling!
And what kind of self-styled “Patriot” helplessly tells his kid he can’t get the power turned on? I thought people like that taught their kids to rough it… you know, not like a “liberal”.
And by the time the ad/video gets to the “how to buy”, his tone-of-voice changes significantly to nice-guy… because he’s fishing for your cash.
I knew he was up to something, capitalizing on a “patriot’s” capacity to being angry at everything.
Interesting points, Catherine. I was wondering why they would be willing to alienate so many people with that sales pitch. The president wants you to pay more for energy ??? I guess they did some market research that suggested to target angry “patriots”.
I was doing research about alternative energy for my classes at Crane International Academy in South Africa and I came across this guys advertising. The advert pictures do not tally with what he has to offer. This is the beef I have with him. The advert will pull you in thinking you are going to discover a trick that would change your life too. Well the fact is that it will not
Thanks for the analysis. You saved my $30.
I watched the sales pitch video, and the funniest contortion in the whole, contrived, scammy sales pitch was that somehow the hated liberal Obama and the arch-republican owned power companies are in cahoots trying to steam money from hard workin’ ‘Muricans. What a big, steaming pile of disingenuous, paraoid fear-mongering. “They’re all out to get you. They’re coming for your money. So instead, give me your money.”
Thanks to all who have provided a wide variety of insight to purchasing this product – I will not! And special thanks to “Tom” who made me laugh aloud with his both democratic politicians and republican big business utility owners are after my money, “So instead, give me [the product seller] your money.”
I have sent numerous message via email, called the phone number given for this company at 615-208-3027 because I DID order the seed vaults but their system inserted an incorrect delivery address. After days of trying to connect through email and getting the “we’re so busy we will have to get back with you when we get to you” routine [that was not a direct quote], I have gotten no response via email and the phone # when called gives another message with “Frank’s” voice saying that you can’t leave a message and that the best way to reach him is via email. Meanwhile, my seed vaults are going to an incorrect address that I was unable to change in their system. Any thoughts???
After patiently listening to the promotional internet video for over 15 min of blah blah blather with no examples of actual content, I gave up, realizing this Frank guy is just full of hot air and that the videos and manuals would be nothing more than the same. Too bad he made it a snake oil pitch. It could have been a much better received product if he had been sucinct and to the pointand honest about what you get. The ad also is misleading showing manuals and CDs when in reality it is all ebook for $27.
Mike Flanery May 14th, 2013 at 14:42
Thanks for your comments, just what I was looking for, when I googled “weird electrictiy scam”. The maker of the CD complied a bunch of stuff together, made a CD. Relieved, not really a scam. But for the ad to keep working, the scare tactics re Obama taking it off the web must work — interesting reflection on our society.
May I add two comments re Florida, the geothermal doesn’t work as well as in northern states, as groundwater temp is 75 degrees, and you must access an “acquifer” — add expense for permitting and more cost for constuction in the groundwater table – often only 3 ft down (you can visualize the water table depth by looking at water surface in our many lakes and drainage swales). Also, add hurricane rated roof mounting – must have cost my solar water heater installer an extra $1000.
Leave a reply