Today we’re looking at the several gadgets that promise relief when nature decides to demonstrate her fire-breathing wrath. These are gadgets designed to help you stay cool this summer.
We'll run the gamut from traditional solutions, to quirky future tech, and even a slightly silly alternative that just might work. Summer is here in Southern California. It made its presence known in a big way with about two straight weeks of local thermometers licking the one hundred degree mark for the first time in a long while. Ninety four degrees at 11pm just isn't cool... literally. This article is a roundup of the gadgets and gizmos that always seem so tempting during the worst of times but for one reason or another you have a healthy skepticism about pulling the trigger now that your sense is back.
Here in part two, we'll look at some serious solutions that attack the heat. Each of these products is an investment, but if you like what you read, this is an investment in your personal comfort. Everything else you'll do while not worrying about heat will be that much better.
ChiliPad cooling and heating mattress pad by chili technology
At this point, I'd just about given up on the idea of in bed climate control. ChiliPad looks great on paper, but some obvious concerns creep up quickly. Water + Bedtime = Anxiety. The ChiliPad Control unit first chills or heats the water you fill it with, 8 oz for a full boat, and then pumps it throughout the pad's soft inner coils. From there on out, for as long as you need, the unit will continue to circulate warm or cool water and maintain your selected temperature. The good news is that it works for the most part. The bad news is all of that heat has to go somewhere and that somewhere ends up being right next to or hidden underneath your bed. The control unit itself has heat exhaust vents on just about every surface. When it's working to cool at full speed, this thing can be a radiator. We all know that heat rises as a rule so all that heat tries to find it's way off of the floor and back up to greet you. I sleep on my side and I just can't sleep facing the side that the control box is on while sleeping without waking up with a dry mouth feeling very dehydrated. I know it would be a nightmare to look at, but the option to connect a single exhaust hose to divert heat outside would be a great option. Practically, I found that I needed at least one other cooling element in the room while running the control unit. Either a ceiling fan or floor fan did the trick well but it can end up being a bit much going on at once.
Hot exhaust aside, the ChiliPad keeps the body cool through the night. I thought the cold water might be a bit abrupt and odd but it works so well to keep the body cool throughout the night. I placed the pad onto my mattress and then put a fitted sheet over the pad and I barely notice it. You can feel the texture of the hoses if you are very sensitive but for most it won't be an issue. The pad can be ordered in sizes to fit any bed from a single to a full sized California King. The larger beds are separated into dual climate control zones. Each side needs it's own control unit which isn't cheap, but you will be able to have exactly the bed you want to sleep in, even if you share your bed with someone special. I only received a small single zoned mattress pad to test out. I share a bed with my girlfriend and she is normally cold while I'm sweating, a dual zoned system would really help to relieve the occasional nighttime tension caused by the heat. When she wants the ceiling fan off, I know that I can occasionally accommodate and survive with the cooling of the ChiliPad alone.
Chili uses medical grade silicone tubing inside of the pads and that goes a long way to give you the confidence needed to give the system a try. Though they are confident in the product, a water proof mattress cover is recommended just in case. With no type of sensor built in, the unit would continuously pump water until the full 8 oz reservoir. was deposited into your mattress. A wet mattress means mildew, no fun. In the couple of months spent testing this, I was deliberately hard on the pad. Not afraid to jump into bed, lay down with jeans on, sometimes with keys in my pocket. I never saw a single issue at any of the potential points of leakage during testing. If you place the hose end at the head of your bed you need to be careful about being directly over the entry point for the water. If you place your pillow and full weight over the point where the water is first entering the pad it will heat up significantly and the unit will struggle to keep a low temperature.
Operation is fairly simple. The included remote has a digital readout and you simple select the exact temp you'd like between 46 and 118 degrees Fahrenheit. When you're ready, point the remote at the control unit and for whatever reason, you need to press the enter button twice to acknowledge the temperature change. The unit will briefly flash the new temp to acknowledge and then it will show the current temperature of the pad. When temperatures rose near 100 degrees, the unit struggled to get lower than 79 degrees while set to 69 degrees. Also, as I mentioned previously, the unit will put off a good amount of it's own heat while struggling to cool. Ultimately, you just can't beat the feeling of waking up comfortably. Even when outside temperatures are at their worst, it's nice to not wake up in a pool of sweat. You are making a bit of an investment here, but you'll spend a third of your entire life sleeping. Why even earn money if you don't use a bit of it to improve such an essential part of everyday life?
UPDATE: the company sells 48” extensions that give additional freedom in the placement of the control unit in relation to the mattress.
I'll revisit the ChiliPad in the winter to review the heating functions when the weather is more suited to testing, stay tuned!
The last item I'll feature doesn't even try to manage the heat, it just eliminates it entirely.
FRA123PT1 portable room air conditioner by Frigidaire
This is seemingly the most traditional option on the list. It's a portable room air conditioner from a name that you know. It doesn't have the extreme cost of central air or the construction challenges of most window or wall mounted units. It's pretty easily portable with the included rolling casters and it blends in nicely in the corner of a room. The addition of a built-in dehumidifier, a very functional sleep mode, and a built in air filter that notifies you when it's time to clean makes this one of the best portable room air conditioners on the current market. The bigger question becomes whether a portable room air conditioner is right for your own needs?
The reception for this design is very mixed across the board. What you don't see in the nice publicity photos for mobile air conditioners is the large awkward duct hoses that you'll somehow have to route outside. The device comes with a universally adjustable window plate that is held in place by pressure. It has a connector for the included exhaust hose and it's very simple, if you SLOW DOWN. Many online accounts of frustration and anger are clearly written by impatient folk that just want things to work out of the box. Take a moment to do this right the first time and you won't have a single problem, at least I didn't. Foam tape is included to make a tight window seal and then you'll simply fit the plastic plate in the window and close the window onto it, vertical or horizontal closing windows both work equally well. When you're cooling a room using the air conditioning feature, the unit sucks the hot air out of the room and sends it outside. If the hose is too much for you, the unit also has a basic three speed fan installed that doesn't require you to use the exhaust hose. During normal cooling it will cycle between air conditioning and fan to save energy and cool more efficiently.
The FRA123PT1 also has a built in dehumidifier “DRY” mode to dry out the air. In this mode you don't need the large included exhaust hose, but there will be water build up for you to eventually remove. The included manual doesn't spend too much time explaining this process so we'll go through it briefly. A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air, it has to go somewhere. Over a very slow process, the water builds up inside of the unit drop by drop until eventually you'll need to empty out the unit. On the back of the unit towards the middle of the air conditioner is a rubber stopper covering a hole that feeds into the dehumidifier's water reservoir. The instructions only say, “Screw a suitable length of hose onto this connector” It doesn't say what kind of hose to use and no hose is included in the packaging of the device. I didn't use the unit long enough to build up enough water to drain but if you live in a humid climate, other reports claim that you'll have to empty the reservoir. about once a day while it operates at full speed on a humid day.
In the end, you have to do enough research to know you're needs. If you own a home and have a window free, then by all means purchase a great window unit. Some models will ask you to drill into the window frame though for added support and apartment dwellers don't always have that option. So if a window is out of the question then your choice is easier. If you don't have a window, but you own your home, you can actually just cut a hole through the wall itself and permanently install a window unit. You'll seal it in carefully for a very clean and semi-permanent solution.
This Frigidaire unit has an included remote control with a digital display and a very well designed hidden cabinet on the side of the unit to store it away. When you start the unit the vents automatically open to greet you and this machine gets to work and does the job. Standing in front of the device gives immediate relief and it cools a large living room fully in under ten minutes at 90 degree temperatures. I couldn't ask for much more than that. The machine even has a memory, turn it off and the next time you power on the last settings are automatically triggered. The timer and sleep modes allow you to automate things a bit. You won't miss central air with this portable unit. If you buy a couple of additional window plates from the company you can easily move the piece between rooms as you need.
Thank you again to the companies above for supplying their product for this review.
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!