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Recovering heat generated by the pump motor IS an efficient way to heat the tub, as long as this heat is recovered during necessary filter cycles. However simply using the pump to generate heat in the motor housing, and heat friction in the pipework, to ultimately heat the water is a very inefficient heating method. In simple terms the amount of heat generated by the motor and friction is significantly less than a traditional heater consuming the same kwh, mainly because much of this energy is expended pushing water around for no good reason.

Having said this if it works, then it works - albeit a a little slowly and inefficiently, and if DreamMaker owners are happy with their Spas then DreamMaker have met their needs.

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I believe a traditional electric heater also uses friction to heat (by pushing electrons through a resistor), so the issue is not the use of friction, but rather the various ways of harnassing heat. It's all a matter of relative efficiency, as Mikey_in_NY noted. I view the Dreammaker as akin to heating a small, well insulated house using nothing but lighting and the home appliances, which is actually done in some European homes. The primary purpose of light bulbs is to produce light and the purpose of the appliances is to do work, but a by-product is heat energy. Is it efficient to heat your home that way rather than paying for a supplemental heater and its associated electricity? Depends. It might be if you live in a warm climate, have a small home, have your lights or appliances on often anyway (analagous to filtering or using your spa a lot), or have an extremely well insulated home. If you live in Minnesota, hardly use your lights, etc., well, you get the picture: you probably should invest in a heater. If you review the Dreammaker reviews on SpaDepot, they are overwhelmingly favorable (even for those in colder climates, which is interesting). Energy costs for most owners seems to be about $10-$20 per month, which compares favorably to other spas. Keep in mind that they are 110 volt spas. That doesn't necessarily increase the energy efficiency, but it does limit how many watts Dreammaker had available to work with in the design. I can't say that their decision to use passive heating only is a bad one given that constraint and their target market.

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There is really only two reasons to heat a spa without a heater, one is cost of manufacture, and the second is so you can have jets and heat at the same time, a 120v cord cannot run a high speed pump and a 1100-1500 watt element at the same time.

For a manufacturer, not having to spend the money on either a two speed pump or a heater means cheaper manufacture, and cheaper retail price points.

As has been said, the "efficiency" argument is horse $**+

Keep in mind, even a 120v spa with a heater cannot recover heat lost when the lid is open, even if the ambient temp is 75 degrees F.

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Lets look at some math for a sec.

The formula is, Amps x Volts equals Watts (AxV=W)

The goal, is a spa that you can simple plug into any 120v outlet. We want to keep it as simple as possible, for a small select few in the spa market.

AxV=W....The voltage is a fixed number, 120 ... A x 120=Watts

To plug into any normal standard outlest is also a fixed number, 15 ...15 x 120 = Watts ...15amps x 120volts = 1800watts

But wait! A circuit has to carry 25% more than the rated "appliance". So, you're limited to 1440 Watts.

I have a 2 speed, 1 hp pump on my hot tub. High speed pulls 11.4 amps (1368 Watts)...low speed 3.1 amps (372 Watts).

At low speed, the larges heater that could be used would be a 1kw heater (1000 Watts).

On high speed the pump is probably generating as much, possible MORE heat than a 1kw heater.

So, are they omitting the heater just to save on manufacturing costs?? IMO, I say, not really. If they can capture as much heat from just a pump, as with a smaller pump AND electric heater, what's the point of the heater?

Yeah, it's more expense (PASSED ON TO THE CONSUMER), Takes up more room under the spa, adds to the spas weight and is the part MOST PRONE TO FAILURE.

From my perspective, if the spa costs less, has fewer parts to break down, and costs the SAME in electricity to heat....well, that's the one I'd want.

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Thanks, Dr. Spa. Also, I want to clear up a misconception that Southsider has. The Dreammaker "hot stick" does serve a purpose. It is NOT just a useless piece of plastic. Rather it is what is known as a "vortex friction heater". Here is the description of how it works:

"Hot stick heats the water through friction. It is basically physics. Water is passing through the hot stick at a high rate of speed. It is forcing this "fast" water through small sections. Buy doing this, it is forcing the water molecules to collide with one another, which creates friction, kinetic energy and heat. Once the water passes through these "hot valves" the water meets in an open chamber where a vortex is created. This vortex causes the water to rotate in this chamber at a very high rate of speed. This swirling, whirlpool action is again creating kinetic energy, friction and heat. We heat the water at 1.9 degrees per hour."

"The best part is that these spas do not have the normal problems that your typical heating elements bring. You can ask any dealer what the first part on the spa is that breaks. It's the heating element because the chemicals and water corrode the coil, and it breaks. There is nothing to break on our heating system. Also, because we are using this energy efficient system, your electricity bill will be lower than any other spa on the market."

Dreammaker's new hybrid spas, which are supposedly the most energy efficient on the market, have a 900 watt heater, but at an additional cost of $200, so let's take that as the average cost & markup. That is about 1 year of total electrictity for my friction-only heating spa at my electric rates. That would take several years at least to return the investment in energy savings. Not worth it to me.

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Also remember these are small hot tubs. I have a fantasy tub on an enclosed patio and it only holds 135 gallons of water. Not a lot of water to heat and not a huge temperature difference such as an outside tub would see. I am happy with the "hot stick" heating". If I had a 600 gallon tub outside this would not be practical.

These are niche market tubs and they do a great job in that market which is low dollar small tub.

Also customer service is great. I had a control system die and they quickly replaced it.

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Thanks, Dr. Spa. Also, I want to clear up a misconception that Southsider has. The Dreammaker "hot stick" does serve a purpose. It is NOT just a useless piece of plastic. Rather it is what is known as a "vortex friction heater". Here is the description of how it works:

"Hot stick heats the water through friction. It is basically physics. Water is passing through the hot stick at a high rate of speed. It is forcing this "fast" water through small sections. Buy doing this, it is forcing the water molecules to collide with one another, which creates friction, kinetic energy and heat. Once the water passes through these "hot valves" the water meets in an open chamber where a vortex is created. This vortex causes the water to rotate in this chamber at a very high rate of speed. This swirling, whirlpool action is again creating kinetic energy, friction and heat. We heat the water at 1.9 degrees per hour."

"The best part is that these spas do not have the normal problems that your typical heating elements bring. You can ask any dealer what the first part on the spa is that breaks. It's the heating element because the chemicals and water corrode the coil, and it breaks. There is nothing to break on our heating system. Also, because we are using this energy efficient system, your electricity bill will be lower than any other spa on the market."

Dreammaker's new hybrid spas, which are supposedly the most energy efficient on the market, have a 900 watt heater, but at an additional cost of $200, so let's take that as the average cost & markup. That is about 1 year of total electrictity for my friction-only heating spa at my electric rates. That would take several years at least to return the investment in energy savings. Not worth it to me.

I love it! You use Dreammaker's own propoganda to support their claim that their hot stick is a valid heater.

Heating the water through friction? Really?

If this hot stick is adding more heat than is added by the waste heat of the motor itself then how much? Why does Dreammaker not have and publish this valuable information? I know why - because it does not add anything and any testing they did would reflect this. It is fake. If it were not fake it would be patented, but it is not patented because the patent office would just laugh. If it were not fake it would be used elsewhere in other applications. It isn't. A device that could heat water by simply causing it to swirl in a vortex would be a HUGE energy discovery. Why have we not heard of it anywhere else? Because it is bunk.

Have you seen what this hot stick looks like? It is nothing more than a red plastic pvc threaded adaptor.

That's it.

If you really think this thing is adding heat then I want to sell you some magnets to put on the gas line of your car to improve your gas mileage. I also have some crystals to tape to your forehead to cure headaches, and some garlic to tie around your neck to prevent colds.

Yes these tubs don't have a heater to fail but they also don't have a heater to heat the water. And, because of that, they take hours and hours to heat the water in a very wasteful manner - running the pump on high speed to get it hot enough so that the water passing through it picks up some of that heat. Moving the water that way uses plenty of electricity for nothing useful even though some of the heat that is generated is captured to heat the water.

As was mentioned by someone else in this forum, if you capture the waste heat while running the pump normally, then that is great. However, if you are running the pump for hours on high speed ONLY to generate enough heat to warm up the water passing through it, you are WASTING electricty. It may mean the hot tub is cheaper and there is no heater to wear out, but it is nevertheless a wasteful way to heat the water, and is certainly shortening the life of the pump when it is run for hours on high speed. This is probably why this method of heating was rejected by the California standards.

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The hot stick is a simple attachment, but not quite as simple as you believe. The threaded pipe attachment has 12 narrow channels in it that the water passes through before reaching the open section, which would theoretically increase the friction as described above. If you hold your finger on a garden hose to increase the pressure, you are performing a similar function for a different purpose using nothing more than your finger. Sure, it's simple physics. If it served no function, though, why would Dreammaker spend the money to include it? Yes, it's only a couple of bucks, but that adds up when you are selling tens of thousands of spas per year. How much extra friction does it provide? Does it make a material difference to the heating rate? I don't think we can answer than without running an experiment. My guess would be that it is minimal but not 0. That's the only point I'm trying to make. Note that even the new hybrid heat spa models include the thermo stick for heating while on high speed mode (when the electric heater is off), which again suggests that it does serve some purpose.

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"A device that could heat water by simply causing it to swirl in a vortex would be a HUGE energy discovery." Not really. It's done all the time. Energy is still required to create the swirl, so no laws of physics are violated. Believe me, if you have a body of water and swirl it at very high speeds (actually, any speed, but the effect is more noticeable the faster the swirl), you are releasing heat and a lot of it. You are not creating heat for free (the swirling requires energy) but you are converting from kinetic energy to heat. It's the liquid equivalent of using friction between pieces of wood to start a fire.

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On high speed the pump is probably generating as much, possible MORE heat than a 1kw heater.

The amount of heat generated by 4BHP pump is actually around 650 watts, the majority of the electrical energy goes to move the armeture in the pump, and consequently, the impeller.

If a pump was expelling 1000 watts of heat not only would the windings be glowing red like a space heater, you would be getting more than 1.9 degrees per hour, and nobody would bother with putting heaters in.

The reason heaters are more efficient is that the element is actually immersed in water, and water transfers heat 27 times more efficiently than air.

That is why you can get into a 180 degree sauna for several minutes, but 180 degree water would kill you in seconds.

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I love it! You use Dreammaker's own propoganda to support their claim that their hot stick is a valid heater.

Heating the water through friction? Really?

If this hot stick is adding more heat than is added by the waste heat of the motor itself then how much? Why does Dreammaker not have and publish this valuable information? I know why - because it does not add anything and any testing they did would reflect this. It is fake. If it were not fake it would be patented, but it is not patented because the patent office would just laugh. If it were not fake it would be used elsewhere in other applications. It isn't. A device that could heat water by simply causing it to swirl in a vortex would be a HUGE energy discovery. Why have we not heard of it anywhere else? Because it is bunk.

Have you seen what this hot stick looks like? It is nothing more than a red plastic pvc threaded adaptor.

That's it.

If you really think this thing is adding heat then I want to sell you some magnets to put on the gas line of your car to improve your gas mileage. I also have some crystals to tape to your forehead to cure headaches, and some garlic to tie around your neck to prevent colds.

Yes these tubs don't have a heater to fail but they also don't have a heater to heat the water. And, because of that, they take hours and hours to heat the water in a very wasteful manner - running the pump on high speed to get it hot enough so that the water passing through it picks up some of that heat. Moving the water that way uses plenty of electricity for nothing useful even though some of the heat that is generated is captured to heat the water.

As was mentioned by someone else in this forum, if you capture the waste heat while running the pump normally, then that is great. However, if you are running the pump for hours on high speed ONLY to generate enough heat to warm up the water passing through it, you are WASTING electricty. It may mean the hot tub is cheaper and there is no heater to wear out, but it is nevertheless a wasteful way to heat the water, and is certainly shortening the life of the pump when it is run for hours on high speed. This is probably why this method of heating was rejected by the California standards.

I realize that this is an old thread, but I had to create an account to clarify something so that future readers are not sucked in by southsider's ignorance.

Please note that I have no experience with this product, the manufacturer, or technology... I am just an interested buyer with some basic common sense and a couple of undergraduate physics courses.

1. There is nothing revolutionary about this technique to heat water; here is a simple freshman Chem lab about it: http://www.chemistryland.com/CHM107Lab/Exp06_Blender/Lab/Blender.htm. Ff you talk to experienced chefs, this is something they need to be aware of when preparing some dishes... mixing will cause ingredients to heat and may cause the recipe to fail. For example I found a quote from http://baking911.com/quick-guide/how-to-az/creaming-mixing-method that talks about this; of course the ingredients are more vicious than water so I expect the effects are more pronounced, but the theory is the same.

The friction caused by the electric beaters quickly warms the creamed butter and sugar for you, in about a minute or so. ... (In fact, if you start with room temperature ingredients and use an electric mixer, the finished batter will be too warm. The optimal ending temperature for butter cake batter should be around 68 - 72 degrees F.)

Aquarists also have to deal with friction generated heat in their fish tanks; salt water tanks require very high water flow and some tanks actually require chillers optimal temperatures. The greatest heat source is lighting, however I have read of discussions about why these chillers sometimes come on when the lights are off and it was determined that the friction of the water through some types of filter systems will cause additional heat that must be dealt with.

2. Their solution is not practical in most cases. "Electric resistance heating converts nearly 100% of the energy in the electricity to heat." (http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12520), so replacing resistance heating with friction heating would be stupid in most cases. I know one of the snarky comments was that we could just replace our hot water tanks with one of these "hot sticks", but that's just stupid; the temperature differential across this device would be a fraction of a degree, only by recirculation would any heating effect be felt and recirculating would require an inefficient pump.

3. I would imagine that the manufacturer has patents on the device but they did nothing revolutionary, they just made a minor improvement over systems that ONLY us waste heat from the pump; thus no buzz. They use some of the pump output (moving water) to generate heat. It's like a car, it uses waste heat from the engine to heat the cabin; but it may sacrifice a couple of HP to power their heated seats too.

4. This method would not make any sense in situations with high heating requirements as a far more efficient heater could be used. But with the cost of the heater, the increased warranty costs, increased complexity, and so on, this inefficient solution is probably far more effective for this product.

5. The amount of waste heat available is limited by the maximum load the motor can handle (greater load = more heat), and reclaiming the waste heat is inefficient; you can't simply immerse the motor in the water. So if you want to increase the heat generated by the pump, you need to look to using some of the work the pump does (moving water) to generate heat. So their solution of using water friction and cavitation is actually pretty smart as it is 100% efficient (all heat generated reaches the water).

So in essence the whole purpose of this device is to convert some of the work of the pump to heat to supplement the waste heat; and it does that at 100% efficiency. While it it's not efficient to pump water when all you need is heat, the savings of integrating a heater (for most people) would not justify the cost of it.

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I've seen heat sticks work. They've put them on other tubs then dream maker. But my understanding is in 2011 they started putting a heater on all their models except the small round one. They are good tubs. But if it's 3 degrees outside don't expect it to keep to temp. But thats pretty much any 110. I like Viking spas plug in plays. That usually sell for the same price. And word on the street is dream maker is going out of business.

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My Dream Maker X500 heats the water using only the "HotStick" Here in Louisiana, night time winter temps can go down into the teens (rarely) and the tub, with the cover on, stays at the set temp by just running maybe once every 4 hours. Take the cover off, get in and turn on the jets and in 20 minutes or less it goes from 103 down to 100. Plenty of time to get in a good soak.

For those who think this friction idea is a pipe dream, let me tell you about what I know about friction and about moving captive water. I am a Volunteer Fire Department Station Chief and recently we were at a small structure fire. When the blaze was out, the engine, with the pump engaged but flowing no water, engine shaft turning only at idle (600rpm) began to generate STEAM! My pump operator forgot about running the pump with no water flowing from any charged line, even at idle speed, without opening the recirculate valve. This pump is PTO shaft driven so no heat from anything except the pump wheels turning inside the housing ( that holds about 25 gallons). The pumper panel has this "recirculating " valve and if the pump is returning water to the onboard 1000 gallon tank it will generate enough heat to bring the temp of the whole tank's capacity to near 100* in two hours.

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Friction from a heat recovery pump (which I expect yours has, not a standard pump) does capture heat and can work in a milder climate but that heat stick is doing next to nothing IMO. Remove the heat stick and you'll get the same results I'd expect as its the pump that matters, not the stick. I assume you spa is insulated with foam?

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Aquarists also have to deal with friction generated heat in their fish tanks; salt water tanks require very high water flow and some tanks actually require chillers optimal temperatures. The greatest heat source is lighting, however I have read of discussions about why these chillers sometimes come on when the lights are off and it was determined that the friction of the water through some types of filter systems will cause additional heat that must be dealt with.

I've been keeping reef aquariums for many, many, years. This argument is invalid. Typically the reason you have heat problems is because of the lighting (Metal halides throw a TON of heat), so you got that right, but the reason chillers sometimes come on when the lights are off is not because of the filter systems. To keep most corals, you must have a lot of flow in your tank, I myself have four 1,00GPH circulation pumps in my tank, which throw off a ton of heat, you have protein skimmer pumps, more heat, refugium lights (which are on 24/7), more heat, and you have large return pumps (Mine is ~1800GPH on my 125 gallon reef), it's basically a small hot tub pump. Not to mention moon lights (dim lights that are on when the main lights are off), reactor pumps, uv sterilizers, and even ozone systems. The heat created is most likely not from friction, but from water cooled pumps.

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All spas, with or without a "heat stick," will heat the water if you just leave the pump on high speed. There's not much difference in heating times. The friction from the tiny "heat stick" (a few grooves in a peice of plastic about an inch long) are nothing compared to the amount of friction in the entire pluimbing assymbly as a whole, as well as the actual water molecules rubbing against eachother.

All spa's can heat without a heater, if the control box logic simply energized "high speed," instead the heater.

Not the most efficient use of energy, but it works.

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word on the street is dream maker is going out of business, Dream Maker was just purchaesd by another manufacture, can't remember who.Dream Maker spas can not recapture much if any heat from the pump because there is vents in access panel for the pump and also there is not much pvc near it. You can not take the heat stick out because it is part of the pump union. It takes forever to heat up and does not maintain temp that well do to heat by friction. They did go back to Balboa Controls and do offer a heater. They are a introductory spa low end no frills, they use to market them as a starter spa then trade it in for another bigger real spa and then resell the used Dream Maker

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I have had a Dream Maker Spa for four years now. I am quite happy with it. Yes, I have had problems with it, but nothing I couldn't fix myself after spending a few bucks. I've had no problem finding the parts I've needed on the internet. The only con I can think of is that during the winter, with the lid off, the "heat stick" does not maintain temperature for long periods of time. I live in the high desert of Oregon, warm summers and bitter cold winters. Summers regularly reach the 90's, winters it is not uncommon to go below zero, often for days at a time. At the most my power bill runs $30/month more than normal while running my spa. I'd also like to add that anyone who thinks the water is being heated by heat transfer from the pump is out of their mind. I heat my spa to 102. There is no way that pump is operating at 102 or higher at the impeller. The water is being heated by friction, period. Initially it takes about 2 days before my spa is ready to use, no big deal, it's worth the wait. In my opinion, after owning the spa for years, I would say Dream Maker builds a quality product. This post is based entirely on facts, not speculation. I hope this clarifies some peoples questions.

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In order to capture the heat off the pump there's a "wrap" around the motor that waters' pumped through. NOT from heat collected at the impeller.

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I too created an account just to comment on this thread. There is much mis-information here, particularly by "Southsider".

The fact is that Dream maker has not (as of Oct 2018) gone out of business. They are still in operation. As far as I know, (local dealer told me) they still sell spas with their "heatstick" technology. I have had mine (X-400) for 10 years. On an outside deck in Northern New England.  I have had exactly one leak in it in 10 years, that was a pump seal, which was a standard seal, replacement bought on Amazon.  This summer the control board failed.  It looked to me like the gasket sealing the control box degraded letting moisture into the board, as it was corroded. (Remember, it is outside, and I did have a seal leak a couple of years ago). I called Dream Maker customer support. They suggested 3 tests to verify it was the board and not the Spa side control panel.  When I diagnosed the issue and called them back, the sold me a new Control Board complete with new sealed box, (it had been updated), It was a drop in repair, so they continue to support older models.

As for the "heatstick technology" something there works. Whether it is the water forced through the heat stick or impeller friction (there is nothing visibly different in the pump housing, I took mine apart to change out the seal, I used to be a Pool and Spa technical in a former life and I have had a lot of impeller housings apart)  Additionally my tub has no plumbing windings around the motor, it harvests no "waste heat" directly from the motor, although the heat from the motor does exhaust into the roto-molded shell. It has no electric heater.  It clearly relies on friction from the impeller and subsequent "heatstick" (http://images.inyopools.com/cloud/images/561257-4.jpg) which is a vortex producing device (and perhaps some ambient warm air from the motor).  The water temp does climb at a rate of nearly 2 degrees an hour, so yes it can take days to heat the first fill depending on the water temp  you fill it with. It does run on a 15 Amp 110V house circuit with a standard plug, the plug contains a GFI. We run it and use it all year round, more so in the winter. It stays up to temp 100-102 all winter, outside, despite below 0 temps.  It certainly runs more hours a day in the winter, but it does not run constantly by any measure. If you Google "vortex tubes" you will find that there is nothing new, or revolutionary about the technology. It has been used to heat air since it was invented in 1931.  The vortex tube is a mechanical device that separates a compressed gas into hot and cold streams.  It has no moving parts.  The Dream Maker Spas evidently utilize the similar basic theory and apply it to water. 

The tub will not gain heat with the cover off and the jets on. It is a single speed motor, and if you open the Air Control Valves to allow air to mix in with the jets, the cool air drops the water temp faster than the heating system will keep up. We use it for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and are not uncomfortable after 20 minutes, maybe a 2 degree drop.  But I find that after getting out of the tub, it is back up to temp within an hour and shuts down.  

As for efficiency, I wont argue about the physics behind the claimed technology. However I can tell you that based on my local rate of 9.25 cents per KWH, if the motor uses about 4 amps when running (which is high, my meter says closer to 3), if I figure it runs worst case at 5 hours run a day then that equates to about 116 dollars a year.  A little more if the winter is extra long or extra cold.

I hope this helps some with an evaluation of this tub. I recommend you search out people who actually own them vs the experts that know why they don't want one.  They are good, they do the job with a minimum of cost, and parts. The jets have good output, strong enough to take effort to block off while running. The jets are in a good position to reach the upper and lower back depending on which corner you sit in (They are in different positions on each side). Parts are available. The shell is not the most attractive in the business, looks like an oversize dog food dish, but scratches buff out, the surface has not broken down in 10 years, the chemicals have not discolored it, there is no evidence of the scrubbing damaging the surface at the water line.

I will sell this house when it is paid off it in 4 more years, I will leave the tub and manual with the new owners and buy the same model tub for our next house.

 

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