No Case For Free Energy


This article was written in response to a video presentation, which is freely available on the Internet, entitled “The Case For Free Energy". (Please note that quite a few of the linked sites in the article are no longer extant.)

In the video, the viewer is taken through a series of very misleading demonstrations which supposedly “prove” that free energy can be obtained from magnets. The presenter is Dennis Lee, who is widely regarded as a con-man. You can download the video from any of the following links;-,1Mb)16min25sec.rm

If you do not want to watch the entire two hours of the video (much of which is just ranting) please watch the first 15 minutes, which is the section that I will be dealing with mostly.

I have tried to avoid technical explanations, and I have included some simple practical experiments. Please do not try to argue with me about these until you have actually tried them yourself;-

Lee shows an example of a "Simple Magnetic Over-unity Toy" (Smot).

He shows that the magnets can pull a metal ball up a ramp. He then manually pulls the ball from the top of the ramp and moves it back to the start, to initiate another run.
Question;- Why doesn’t he arrange it so that the ball rolls back to the start-position by itself, so that it can be pulled up the ramp repeatedly. That would be a truly impressive demonstration.
Answer;- it cannot be done.
There are numerous Websites describing these Smot devices, complete with diagrams and lengthy accounts of how they "very nearly” work. The holy grail for Smot enthusiasts is to "close the loop" i.e. to make the device to work cyclically. A single run, such as Lee demonstrated, is of no use whatsoever, because even if you gain energy during the run, you will then have to USE energy to pull the ball away from the grip of the magnets and transport it back to the start for each subsequent run, so overall you are gaining no energy.
(See also footnote ) No matter how deviously you design a mechanism by which the ball can extricate itself from the magnets, and no matter how much you would like to believe that a “regauging” occurs, the laws of physics will always prevent the ball from having enough kinetic energy to reach the start-position and begin another cycle.
Anyone who succeeds in making a “closed loop” Smot should apply for the James Randi Challenge at and collect the Million Dollar prize. For anyone in the U.K. who succeeds in making such a device, but who cannot afford the air fare to America to see Mr Randi, contact me via ASKE, show me the working device, and I will pay your air fare myself.

Lee demonstrates a magnet dropping slowly through a copper tube and wants us to be impressed because copper is “not magnetic”, so how can it possibly affect the magnet?
Actually, this is a well-known demonstration to physics students. It is known as Lenz's Law. Dennis Lee knows that it has no relevance whatsoever to his free energy claims, so he simply says; "that’s a clue"!

Try It For Yourself .….
Buy a Lenz's Law demonstration kit from this website;- Law.htm
And watch the video;- law.wmv
Here is how it works;- As the magnet moves down the tube, it induces Eddy Currents in the copper, which in turn sets up an
opposing magnetic field, which slows the descent of the magnet.

Lee shows a circular version of a Smot. (#3.1)
He wants you to think that this device will rotate using only permanent magnets (as in his "Hummingbird Motor").
He dare not allow you to see that this device will rotate only ONCE from a standing start, that it will not complete a full 360 degree circle, and that it will then stop. So he cheats, by placing a BLOCK near the end of the track. He also tells an outright lie by stating that the arm rotates through 360 degrees.
When he releases the arm, WATCH HIM SLIDE THE BLOCK TO THE LEFT, so that you cannot see the failure of the arm to move a full 360 degrees to "close the loop".
Without that block in the way, the arm would simply come to rest at the point where the magnets converge. To get it to make another rotation you would have to USE energy to wind the arm back, pushing it AGAINST the magnetic field, to return it to it's starting position. (#3.2)

This is exactly analogous to winding up a watch-spring ... you will only get out the energy that you put in.

What Lee cannot demonstrate;-
1. The device making one complete 360 degree revolution, from a standing start.
2. The device continually rotating with no external power source.

(4) Lee demonstrates a "shake magnet flashlight".
These are operated by shaking a magnet back and forth through a coil, this charges up a Storage Capacitor which then lights the l.e.d. Thirty seconds of shaking stores up a few minutes of light output. In other words, mechanical energy (supplied by your muscles) is converted into electrical energy. These are cleverly engineered commercial products.

Okay. So Lee holds a charged-up flashlight. He shows that it will light up. Now watch carefully ... he turns the switch OFF, so that the l.e.d. is NOT connected ... he then moves an external magnet near to the case, and the light comes on again. He claims that the external magnet is making electricity …..

This had me puzzled at first, until I tried it myself, whereupon I realised that these flashlights use a magnetic Reed Switch …… the external magnet was simply closing the Reed Switch! The light was still being powered by the previously-charged Storage Capacitor.

Prove It For Yourself .....
Buy a Magnetron from;

This model has 3 magnets per arm, whereas Lee's has 4, but the principle of operation is exactly the same.
It is easy to prove that NO energy is generated by the magnets;-
HOLD the Left wheel still, in the position shown in the above photo (or remove it completely) so that there can be NO INTERACTION between the magnets. Spin the right wheel and count how long it takes to stop. Mine took about 20 seconds.
Now spin BOTH wheels (with about the same amount of force as you used before) and count how long they take to stop. Mine took about 20 seconds, i.e. the SAME amount of time as when the magnets were NOT interacting. If it were true that the magnets were “gaining energy” then you would expect that the interacting system would keep going for longer than the non-interacting system, but it does not.
When the wheels are interacting there is an ILLUSION of more “activity” going on, but, as you have just proved, this interaction adds NO energy. (#7)
When you play about with one of these devices, it is easy to see what is actually happening;-
You will notice that whenever one wheel is rotating quickly, the other one will be rotating slowly. Occasionally they will change over, the slow one becoming the fast one, etc. There is a TRANSFER of energy between the wheels, not an increase. Whenever one wheel speeds up (gains energy), the other one slows down (loses energy), the total energy stays the same.
To summarise;- The only energy in the system is that which you put into it yourself by spinning it. From that moment onwards, the sum-total of kinetic and potential energy in the system always decreases, as the energy is gradually dissipated by friction in the bearings and in air friction, eventually reaching zero when it stops. NO energy is added by the magnets. If anyone can prove otherwise, please go see James Randi, or if in the U.K. contact me and I will pay your air fare to go see him.
What these devices are actually designed to demonstrate is Deterministic Chaos. They have nothing whatsoever to do with free energy. The following person is in the process of mathematically modelling the Chaotic dynamics of the system. Unlike Lee's nonsense, this is genuine research;-

Lee demonstrates his “Sundance generator”, which is driven by a commercial motor which runs from a large 96 volt battery pack.
He claims that this arrangement gives "five units of electrical energy out for one unit in".
Ask yourself;- WHY DOES HE NEED THE BATTERY?! Why not take 1/5th of the 5-times energy from the output and feed it back to the input? Answer;- the system actually gives LESS power out than is put in. (#8)
He shows, on an oscilloscope screen, that the device generates "voltage spikes" which he claims can “put energy back into the battery”.
He omits to mention that these spikes are very well known to electrical engineers, and are produced by almost ANY motor. They are extremely brief … that's why they look like thin spikes on the oscilloscope … and they only contain a tiny amount of energy. Commercial motors are fitted with r.f. suppressors (small capacitors) to absorb them, because they are actually an undesirable side-effect, causing r.f. interference to nearby radio/TV reception. Lee has simply removed them. If you were to take a radio to one of Lee’s demonstrations you could listen to the crackling of the r.f. interference.
As usual, Lee has taken what is actually a well-understood phenomenon and turned it into sheer nonsense.
There are many other deceptions and lies in the Sundance demonstration, but these have been well debunked on other websites.

This claim is so pathetic that I just cannot believe anybody would fall for it;-
Lee says that when you buy electricity from the power company, you don't actually "use it up". He claims that after the electricity has been passed through your household appliances, it is sent back, unused, to the power company along the return wire!
I suppose folk who don't understand the concept of "Potential" might be fooled.
Lee’s claim is analogous to saying that the water behind a hydro-electric dam is not "used up" when generating electricity ... well, okay, after the water has rotated the turbines and generated electricity it is still "water" at the bottom, but in falling from the top of the reservoir to the bottom it has lost gravitational Potential Energy. If you wanted to use the “same water” again to generate electricity you would have to USE energy to pump it back up into the reservoir (as in the pumped-storage system at Dinorwic in Wales), or wait for the earth’s “natural pump” which uses the sun's energy to evaporate the water, which eventually rains back into the reservoir.
Similarly, the electrons in your domestic power supply are at a lower, useless, electrical Potential after being "used".

Lee lights a fluorescent tube by sending what he calls "dielectricity" from a Tesla Coil "through the air". He claims that he doesn't need the Power Grid to distribute electrical energy, he can just send it through the air.
Question 1;- When the light is lit, why is the room IN DARKNESS? It's supposed to be a LIGHT ! It is barely on, just glowing weakly.
Question 2;- WHY does he have a WIRE connecting the Tesla Coil to the light?!
Answer;- With a Direct Current low voltage supply you must connect 2 wires to the power source in order to make a complete circuit, for example;
Battery -------1----->------>------ Switch ---->----> Bulb -->-->|
^--------<-------2-------<------<----back to battery----<----<-----|
A Tesla coil, however, supplies an Alternating Current, at high frequency, and at a very high voltage. With this type of supply, a SINGLE conductor will pass a small amount of current in a "push-pull" fashion … the electrons are rapidly pushed and pulled in the wire but don’t actually travel far. The more Capacitive load you have at the other end, the better, since this acts as a reservoir. The fluorescent tube alone is sufficient, but a human body in contact with it will increase the capacitance.
Tesla coil -----<-->----- single wire -----<-->----- fluorescent light -----<--->----- (capacitive load)
This is very simple to demonstrate.
Lee's fluorescent tube is actually lit (very dimly) by the high voltage high frequency AC current passing along the single connecting wire, NOT through the air.

Some people are obviously very impressed with this video. Here is what John Kuhles of has to say about it … quote;-

"for the first time ever, a person will show & explain in a simple UNDERSTANDABLE fashion, HOW Free Energy Technology works, and WHY (!) it works ... (save file to disk, make a back up, put it on your website, spread the news! empower the people) We are feeling unnecessary powerless ... The Best Case (ever!) for Free Electricity. Finally, The SMOKING GUN, HARD EVIDENCE! NO 'Black Boxes' ... NO secrets, just the naked Truth.” In fact, you don’t gain ANY energy in a Smot, even during the “uphill run”. To explain this, I cannot improve on the following extract from Wikipedia;-
" … the device does not gather "free energy" but merely converts potential energy in the form of the steel ball's distance from the magnetic source to kinetic energy as it rolls towards it. No energy is produced, because when the ball drops from the ramp it is in a position of lower potential energy with regard to the magnetic field. If a SMOT is laid flat on the ground, the ball will roll through the magnets, come to a stop, and probably roll back (and forth) depending on the strength of the magnets and the surface it is placed on. The same kinds forces are at work in the swinging of a pendulum, but the illusion is created by the perceived increase in gravitational potential energy as the ball rolls up the ramp, while the eye is not attuned to see the decrease in magnetic potential energy as it moves towards the magnet."
(#3.1) Lee’s circular Smot uses the same arrangement of converging magnets as a linear Smot track, but curved around into a circle. The metal ball used in a linear Smot is replaced by a magnet on a pivoted arm. This is pulled along the track by exactly the same process as in a linear Smot. Lee probably hoped that by bending the track into a circle it would enable him to "close the loop".
It is a complete waste of time trying to do this. Perpetual motion devices like these have a long and futile history. Given a PUSH start, the arm could make a complete revolution, or maybe a few, before stopping, but so can any wheel! It would not matter whether you wound the arm clockwise via the long-and-gradual path of magnetic resistance, or anti-clockwise against the short-but-steep magnetic resistance across the gap between the end and start of the track. The latter LOOKS easier, as it is a shorter distance, but the field gradient is much steeper across this gap. The same amount of work would have to be done in either case.
Lee also claims that during the operation of his permanent magnet motors (which don't work anyway!) that the energy being "extracted" from the magnets is somehow recharged by the Earth's magnetic field … This is simply laughable. Think about it. The Earth's magnetic field is so incredibly weak that it is barely capable of providing enough energy to slowly move a small, lightweight, delicately-balanced compass needle! Also consider the fact that it takes many years for the magnetized particles in a magnetic tape-recording, or a floppy disc, to be affected by the earth's magnetic field. For example, I have some 30-year-old magnetic tapes that still play. The Earth's magnetic field really is extremely weak.

(#4) It can actually take a few hours for the l.e.d. to completely turn off, or become very dim, since the tail end of a capacitor discharge curve is very shallow.
I bought a couple of these flashlights quite cheaply from E-bay. There are several variations available. I’m pretty sure that they all use Reed Switches, but to make sure, look through the transparent plastic casing around the switch area ... check that the thumb-switch has NO visible connection to the circuit board. When you operate it, your thumb actually moves a small magnet that makes the Reed Switch on the circuit board turn on, connecting the storage capacitor to the l.e.d.. Also, If you want to play about with Reed Switches to see how they work, they are freely available from electronics suppliers such as Maplin. Experimental note; It is obviously difficult to judge EXACTLY how fast you are spinning the wheel in each trial. To be more scientific, you should repeat the experiment several times and average out the results to reduce random error, or you could try and find some mechanical way of giving exactly the same amount of impetus to the wheel each time.
If you don’t believe me that holding the left wheel stationary will prevent all interaction between the magnets, then, as I said, you can remove the left wheel completely. On the Magnetron that I bought, the rotors were mounted on pins and were easy to remove and replace, there may be different models with different mounting arrangements.
If you still think that the magnets are somehow adding energy, you can demagnetise any or all of the magnets on one, or both, of the wheels using a degausser. You will find that the wheels still spin for the same amount of time. In the experiment, when you spun both wheels you actually put twice as much energy in compared to when you held one wheel still, but of course there is twice as much mass in 2 wheels, so a physicist would predict that both systems would take about the same amount of time to stop, which is exactly what happens. Analogy;- if you pushed a 2 kilogram ball and a 1 kilogram ball, but pushed the 2 kilogram ball with twice the force, you would expect them both to travel the same distance.
The website that sells these devices gives the correct explanation of the device;- "Each rotor has three arms, each containing a magnet with its North pole facing out. As you give one rotor a gentle spin, the other one will eventually begin to interact with it and the angular momentum will begin to bounce back and forth between the two rotors, one stopping and the other abruptly starting, then reversing"

(#7.2) Lee’s magnetron is larger and heavier than the commercially available versions that I have seen, so it rotates more slowly and for longer. Lee says that he just “unbalances” the wheels to make them spin … an obvious lie, as you can clearly see that he spins the wheel. Lee measures power incorrectly. He does not take into account the phase-difference between voltage and current in the system. In any system that contains an Inductance, such as a motor, you cannot calculate Power by simply multiplying voltage and current (W=V*I). If you do not understand this, then you should read up on power-factor and voltage/current phase angles across inductors.

He also talks a load of nonsense about "ripple" in the power supply, but again, you will have to read up on that for a full explanation.
It is also impossible to see what is going on within the jumble of wiring, so I cannot really comment on his measurement devices, ammeter, voltmeter, etc. However, ammeters can easily be rigged. It is a simple job to change the value of a shunt resistor to make it give false readings.

J.D.Rogers, 22 August 2005