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Name: Ken
Status: Educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

A certain retail store (Sears) at one time, not too long ago, advertised a table saw with a 1.5 horsepower electric motor as being able to proivde "3.0 horsepower maximum developed". Do you know how they arrive at this without running the risk of a lawsuit for false advertising? I contacted Sears directly but only got a "run around."

Well, first of all, Sears isn't worried about a suit for false advertising. Were you to buy a saw and assert that it did not function as advertised, they could simply replace it or refund your money and be rid of you. If you sued them, you'd have to prove you suffered serious financial damage as a result of Sears' grossly negligent action. *Grossly*, I said: an advertiser is allowed a certain amount of ``puffing'' in vending his wares. ``Caveat emptor'' is an ancient free-market tradition. Also, if you failed to prevail in such a suit, you could be ordered to pay Sears' legal expenses, which would dwarf the cost of all the hardware you will ever buy.

The attorney general in your state might sue Sears, on behalf of all consumers, if your state law is unusually strict about advertising contents (which is rare, because of 1st Amendment complications, and because Sears pays far more taxes and donates far more money to legislators' re-election campaigns than any number of disgrunted consumers). That is, if he has attention and attorneys to spare from pursuing murderers, car thieves, corrupt state employees, credit-card scammers, etc.

I don't think Sears is worried.

That being said, here are two ways I can imagine peak power might differ from average power: (1) the motor could produce 3.0 HP at full on, but be unable to sustain full on indefinitely without damaging itself. (2) the motor could produce 3.0 HP under certain unusual or intermittent conditions of load, electrical power, and so forth, while producing 1.5 HP under more typical conditions. One would guess the 1.5 HP figure comes from some standard measurement, regulated by some independent body (UL comes to mind) or the gummint.


I don't know for sure for it could be as simple as the motor can run at this higher power for short amounts of time, but is unable to get rid of the excess heat if it runs that way for too long. So while it is starting up, or for brief times, it can be depended on to put out this power, but if you do it for long, it will over heat etc.

S. Ross

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