James Dyson and one of his vacuum cleaners. Image: Dyson

James Dyson and one of his vacuum cleaners. Image: Dyson

Couple of weeks ago, Volkswagen admitted it had cheated US tests to make its diesel cars seem more green than they actually were. Later, ZME Science reported companies like Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat or Volvo could be also cheating. Independent lab tests showed  some Samsung TVs were rigged to use less energy during official testing conditions than they do during real-world use. Now, famous British inventor James Dyson is accusing German companies Bosch and Siemens of doing the same thing – gaming energy ratings for their vacuum cleaners.

“Bosch has installed control electronics into some of its machines to wrongfully increase energy consumption when in use — to cheat the EU energy label,” said Dyson. “It seems that industry is rife with manufacturers engineering to find their way around tests, rather than engineering better, more efficient technology. This behavior is seriously misleading customers.”

James Dyson is the founder of Dyson, a company that sells vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans, hand dryers and other products in this range. Dyson says the German companies’ vacuum cleaners are actually using twice as much energy as they claim, based on independent testing. At home, these vacuum cleaners apparently use  1,600W of power, instead of the rated 750W. How? Well, Dyson says that all of these tests are made with the dust bag empty. Sensors inside send a signal to the motor once more dust gathers to turn up the power and make the vacuum cleaner actually useful. In this case, a rating of AAAA in test conditions could drop to an E or F in the home.

For Dyson, this kind of cheating also means a lot of lost business. Most of Dyson’s vacuum cleaners are below 1400W, but the best selling models use half as much energy – or so they’re labeled. Dyson says consumers choose these vacuum cleaners, not because they believe they’re better than Dyson models, but because they think they’ll save money on electricity bills.

“It seems that industry is rife with manufacturers engineering to find their way around tests, rather than engineering better, more efficient technology. This behaviour is seriously misleading customers,” Dyson said who also launched legal action against the two companies.

BSH Home Appliances, on behalf of Bosch and Siemens, rejects these accusations.

“All Bosch and Siemens vacuum cleaners are measured in compliance with European energy regulations. Appliance performance at home is consistent with laboratory performance – and any suggestion to the contrary is grossly misleading.

“The purpose of energy labelling is to give consumers a clear and independently-validated indication of energy consumption and broader performance criteria. We have a long and proud tradition of stringent testing.

“We are committed to providing full disclosure on the energy ratings and broader performance of our vacuum cleaners so that consumers can make an informed decision. For reasons we fail to understand, this is not something that Dyson choose to do.

“European commission regulations and energy labelling on vacuum cleaners provide a valuable and reassuring guide that benefits the consumer. We believe that clear, accurate and independent performance information should be available to all consumers – and we are proud to share this.”

Dyson is far from convinced. In fact, the British inventor is quite fed up with the way EU runs its tests.

“[There are] fridges tested with no food, vacuum cleaners tested with no dust, and washing machines tested at inaccurate temperatures,” he claimed. “The regulators clearly live in a place that looks nothing like the real world and manufacturers are taking advantage,” Dyson said speaking for The Telegraph.

If this is true, then Dyson is right: the EU energy ratings are useless and should be overhauled. How many companies are actually cheating these energy ratings? Next year we might be in for some surprises as more and more tests show up.

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  1. 1

    This is nothing new. Ever since the EPA mandated mileage estimates on new cars the number embellishment started. And where there is lying, cheating is soon to follow.

  2. 2

    This in the same as teaching the test for SATs, ACTs and other standardized tests. You get the results you want without the overall picture you are supposed to gauge from the test.

  3. 3

    Lying and cheating corporations? Say it ain’t so! The shocking story is the one about ‘the ethical corporation’, you know a fairy tale.

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