Monday, October 24, 2011

Even More Heat Surge Absurdity

It almost seems as though the latest Amish heater ad from the Universal Media Syndicate is an attempt to see how many absurd claims can be packed into a single-page ad.

Right at the top is the dumbest staged photo I think I've ever seen: a line of people in a Sears parking lot, standing behind yellow caution tape, dressed in their winter coats as they wait for a crew of supposedly Amish men to unload a few Heat Surge boxes out of the back of a horse-drawn buggy.

Give me a break.

The idea that a huge retailer like Sears takes deliveries from guys in buggies is laughable. The implication that the men in the photo are actually Amish or the people behind the caution tape are customers is equally silly. The only true thing in this photo is the fact that Sears is now selling the heaters; they should be ashamed, in my opinion.

The ad's text is full of the same type of absurdity. The breathless copy crams in so many pseudo-technical terms it's like a Monty Python script. "This is the revolutionary Heat Surge HT L.E.D., the first-ever appliance with Hybrid-Thermic™ heat technology. Hybrid-Thermic heat is an engineering genius so advanced, it actually uses a micro-furnace from the Coast of China and a thermal heat exchanger to perform its miracles. The thermal heat exchanger acts like the rays of the sun to heat you, the kids, the pets and everything else. The micro-furnace then heats all the surrounding air.... In fact, it actually produces Ortho-Thermic™, bone-soothing heat."

Oh, wow, a micro-furnace from the Coast of China! We all know everything that comes from China is good. And a hot LED -- where do they get those? The reason LEDs are energy-efficient is because they don't put out heat. And how many more ™ marks can they use on made-up words like Ortho-Thermic?

A new section of the ad has the bold headline "A Consumer Best Buy," followed by the claim that it "boast[s] an overwhelming Consumer 'Best Buy' on the website." This is clearly supposed to make readers think of Consumer Reports -- the venerable consumer watchdog, which has a history of giving the Heat Surge / Amish heaters a less than warm review. But is a website created by Heat Surge -- it's not an independent review -- so it's full of glowing recommendations. Big surprise.

The ad refers again and again to a "double coupon" deal, but it never says how much the single coupon is for. The heater costs $398 if you call in the next 24 hours; it's $547 after that, although I had to read it about three times to find that price listed. The only difference from their past ads is that shipping and handling are included with this "coupon." To make up for that decrease, though, the $398 price is almost $100 more than they were selling heaters for last year. Maybe the price went up because of all that revolutionary technology from China.

The ad claims the heater uses $.09 of electricity per hour in "standard mode." It then says "yet it produces up to an amazing 4,606 British Thermal Units (BTU's) on the high setting." No mention of  how many BTUs it puts out on the standard setting, or how much electricity it uses on the high setting. (The Heat Surge website lists the standard setting as putting out 2,303 BTUs, so I would infer it costs $.18 per hour to run it on the high setting.) Note that 4,606 BTUs is less than the amount of heat put out by a 1,500-watt heater, and less than was put out by the version Heat Surge was selling last year. (4,606 BTUs equals about 1,350 watts.)

Just remember these facts:
  • The Amish heater costs $398. Electric heaters that put out comparable amounts of heat can be had for under $100. Even ones that come in furniture-like cabinets cost substantially less than $398.
  • $.09 per hour will be added to your electric bill whenever the heater is used in standard mode. If you run it 24 hours a day, that's $2.16, and if you do that for a month it adds about $65 to your bill. If you run it on high, the electric charges will double. Will your gas or oil bill be decreased by more than that? Natural gas creates cheaper heat per BTU than electricity -- 60 percent cheaper, according to Consumer Reports, so that seems doubtful to me.

Here's some background on the Universal Media Syndicate and Arthur Middleton Capital Holdings, the company behind the Heat Surge ads.


Peter Hoh said...

It is true that an LED that emits visible light won't emit heat.

However, there are LEDs that produce infrared light, and some that produce heat. (Your TV remote most likely has an LED that emits infrared light, but you won't feel any heat from it.)

Anonymous said...

Great post. However, even the astute can be fooled. Sears does NOT sell this. Check their website.

Daughter Number Three said...

Thanks for the info on LEDs, Peter. That may be the types of LEDs in the heater, or they could just be in a read-out or something.

Skibum70, it appears you're correct that Sears isn't selling this latest heater (or possibly, they have them in stores but don't have them on their website yet), but the Sears website does list 12 variations on the older Heat Surge models with mantels, plus 13 types of accessories or filters.

snyman said...

I was in a Sears store in the midwest just yesterday 10/31 and they do indeed have 3 models of Heat Surge units on their floor.

Marky said...

Notice the crowd is holding the yellow tape!

Daughter Number Three said...

Marky, I guess the people in charge of the photo shoot asked them to "contain themselves"!

cosmic ray said...

Regardless whether an LED puts out visible or infrared light, it's solid state technology and is a NON-THERMAL source of radiation. Incandescent light bulbs radiate mostly in the IR, but they have 3,000 degree filaments. Any LED is a "cold" source of light.

LoveBringsTruth said...

Here is what I get from your article.


You also inflate the price. Its not $398, its $298 according to their commercials. You also didn't take a close up of the details of the coupon offer.

But anyways who cares, I guess you're the idiot who posted on GLP because you have the same pattern of hate.

If you don't want it, don't buy it asshole.

Daughter Number Three said...


I am allowing your comment -- despite its trollish, ad hominem style -- to be posted in part to show that I am more open-minded than you.

The ad I have in my hands, which ran in my local newspaper, lists the price of the product as $398 after the $198 coupon. The full price is listed as $547. An ad from about two weeks later ( listed the heaters at $299.

The fact that the price was changed that much in two weeks is a signal to me that the company manipulates pricing to take advantage of customers, rather than setting it based on cost of production plus a fair profit. Prices can also be set based on what the market will bare, of course, but does that really change by this much in two weeks?

I didn't post a closeup of the coupon because it is visible in the full page ad I posted when viewed at full size. It's nothing special, just text that says "An extraordinary $198.00 Double Coupon Deal has been authorized for today's readers in three eligible Weather Zones. To use the $198.00 coupon and get the Heat Surge HT L.E.D. for just $398, locate the Weather Zone you live in…" And then it reiterates the free shipping and handling, gives the expiration date as two days later, and finally the full price of $547. As I said in my post, it never makes it clear how that $198 is a doubling of anything, so I would say they are just using the phrase "double coupon" to make it look like a better deal.

I don't know why you feel the need to call me names and think that my criticism comes from hate. I don't know what GLP is. If you look around on the web, you'll see many folks writing criticism of the Amish heaters and other products from Arthur Middleton Capital Holding and the Universal Media Syndicate.

gotta have one! said...

The advert mentions that is has earned the coveted UL listing, all UL means is that the device has being tested by the UL lab and won't short circuit,catch fire or explode under normal operating conditions. This is required by miracle Heaters owen liability insurance provider in order to sell the product. All appliances,devices and such sold in the US require a UL listing.UL has nothing to do with energy savings or efficiency.

On helping with heating or efficiency . The heater israted at less that 4,000 btu. That window in the picture measures about 60" x 60". Using the manual J schedule the heat loss from just one window (forget about the walls floor and ceilings) would negate the benifits advertised by the manufacturer.

1ToughGman said...

I have the advertisement page and picture in front of me now. The picture is the same except the " SEARS" is now MALL ENTRANCE. The second person behind the tape is holding a small Canadian Flag ( I am in Canada ). It is a hyped sales pitch. Thank you for your thoughts, I see no hate in your words.

Gera said...

LED are light emitter devices, in a remote control they just show its functionality and do not emit infra red ray, if so, one would have to point the device exactly to the eye on the equipment, without any obstruction.LED will not emit heat, if so it would be called LEDHT, or else.
About this article, its a good wake-up call for some misleading information on the ad, I believe the Amish guys delivering the unit is just for theatrical purposes, and yes, as you tap into any electrical system , it converts electrons into commodity for you and money to the utility's the bottom line.

Half Japanese said...

@LoveBringsTruth - Ad Hominem insults are invalid, plain and simple. Nastiness is just evil. Your handle suggests that you are a rank hypocrite and I am guessing your are voting for Gingrinch (forgive my political speculation, but I recognize the odor of rotten old bologna).
@Daughter#3 Good consumer journalism, thanks.

Brog22 said...

Good stuff there Daughter 3. Esp impressed by your calm response to the Love Truth aka HATE. person. Keep it up.

NetSk8er said...

I happen to have two of their older model fireplace heaters. Bought in 2007 and still going strong. Good quality. As for the LED's used in new line; they are for the light used to create the "fire" ambiance. Their claim that the LED's use less enegy than the bulbs used in my older units. That would be true - if the LED's can produce as much of a "fire" look. Am thinking about buying one but that's because my price as a previous buyer is $278.86 incl. shipping and remote control.

I think the original article is fair and balanced. Thanks for taking the time to do the write up!!

Michael Evans said...

Daughter 3/ heat surge is unbelievable! Amazing! CRAP. That is. Anyone who has to advertise like this to sell is a scam company. ...One can go tp sams club and buy a 50 dollar electric heater to perform the same. I oftem use one in my office for short periods___works great. Amish heater. What s joke