While I can appreciate your having already made an investment in the technology and most likely feeling some distress at reading these opinions, I must point out to you that the issues at hand here are not that the technology is false, but is presented in such a way as to make people believe they are going to get something that they will not, namely massive energy savings. Keep in ind that none of us voice these opinions for financial gain, we do it because we all actually BELIEVE in the benefits of soft starting. It's just that the marketing methods employed by people selling then mainly as "energy savers" is actually creating ill will in the market place by setting users up for disappointment, and many of us have been victim to that market perception then being cast over ALL soft starters. Many of your points are quite valid, especially those related to the benefits of soft starting. But some of the points you made are not as valid as others, at least from my perspective.
Nowhere does Somar claim that the Powerboss will save energy on all motors,...
This is a direct quote from a MotorBoss website FAQ, which is the US name for PowerBoss.
"Which types of motors can benefit from Motorboss?
Any AC Induction Motor from ¾ HP to 1100 HP."
Now I'll grant that they said "can" not "will", but my opinion is that this is a form of spin doctoring that technically avoids prosecution, but IMPLIES that any motor "will" benefit by not even mentioning exceptions, when in fact the exceptions are actually the rule!
One of these Drs. had read somewhere that no savings would be possible on motors bigger than about 30 kW. He is now well outside this box and still has not yet hit a brick wall.
As far as I know, nobody has made a claim such as that here, that would be as ridiculous as their claims in the other direction. Nobody has ever claimed that the technology CAN'T work, only that it only works in certain narrow conditions. However, if it is working for him, then he MUST have had an application where it COULD work. Stating an exception to a general rule is not proof that the rule is invalid. I can drive a Hybrid car and prove to you that I can in fact attain 60 miles per gallon as Toyota advertises, but that in no way proves that every Hybrid vehicle will get that kind of economy and in fact the vast majority get far far less than that.
In other cases we have delivered the end-customer direct. For example, a sawmill started with one unit for a trial, ordered shortly thereafter a further four, and then a batch bringing the total to 28, of various sizes from 22-225 kW. Their energy costs per unit of production fell by over 15%. Further, the start-up of the two biggest motors every morning no longer caused the breakfast TV to black-out in their village, thanks to the soft start.
While I applaud the success, I still do not fully accept the 15% drop was a direct result of the "energy saver" circuit, there are a lot of circumstances that could account for that. I have personally witnessed AND INVESTIGATED a very similar situation, and the benefit could be directly linked to the fact that by fitting soft starters to all of the larger motors, workers were more likely to turn the machines off when not in use rather than leave then running because they were reluctant to restart them DOL. So indirectly, the soft starters DID in fact lower his energy use but not as a result of the energy saver circuit. Your other issue about the "breakfast TV" is a very valid point about soft starting, but again, not about the energy saver aspect of the PowerBoss.
For all these machines, they wanted both soft starters and (for safety reasons, on switch-off) braking.
In this example, I sincerely hope you are NOT implying that they used the braking function of the PowerBoss in lieu of the mechanical brake!!! THIS IS INHERENTLY DANGEROUS!!! Under NO circumstances should electronic braking of any sort be used to supplant mechanical safety brakes! What happens if the power fails? Again, no offense, but you said yourself that you are not an expert on electric motors applications. If this happened, it is clear evidence that neither you nor your customer was in fact, qualified to be using this technology, regardless of how many titles he has etc. This could actually cost someone their life or limb.
It is a bit unfortunate that this forum is limited to energy saving in electric motors,
Actually, it is not specifically limited, there has in fact been discussion of lubricants here before as well. But realize that this is not a web site specific to energy consumption, it is specific to electric motors. Do you go to the bakery and complain about a lack of meat, chiding the baker for not thinking "outside the bun"? Besides, the only reason why the Nola energy saver issue continuously pops up in this forum is because many people want to hear both sides of a situation, and Somar, among others, tended to offer only one. As has been mentioned here, it appears that Somar may be tempering their approach of late, but I know for a fact that their distributors are not, in fact if anything it has escalated with the recent energy crisis. Somar by all meas is not the only manufacturer doing this, just perhapse the most widespread. Succes in marketing does not equate to success in technology. Sony sold a lot of BetaMax VCRs didn't they?