Our Sunday newspaper magazine section features a two page ad for a new “miracle” heating device that looks like a fireplace and features a “hand-crafted Amish mantel”. Check this out:
The HEAT SURGE miracle heater is a work of engineering genius from the China coast, so advanced you simply plug it into any standard wall outlet. It uses less energy than it takes to run a coffee maker. Yet, it produces an amazing 5,119 BTU’s. An on-board Powerful hi-tech heat turbine silently forces hot air out into the room so you feel the bone soothing heat instantly. It even has certification of Underwriters Laboratories coveted UL listing
The ad goes on to state that this device is so efficient that you can leave it on all day to keep you toasty warm, and for only pennies! Amazing! My, my, coveted UL listing!! Wow!!
You can find more details on their website.
First of all, I’d wager that most folks don’t know a BTU from BTO or a BLT, and if 5100 BTU is even a significant amount of energy. Well, the first problem is that they don’t state the time interval. Is that BTU per hour, per day, per century? What? It’s like telling someone that your velocity is 16 feet. I assume that they mean BTU per hour. Why? Because if you read a little more on their site you discover that the unit has two heat settings, 750 or 1500 Watts. 1 BTU is about 1.055 k Joule and 1 Watt is defined as a Joule per second, so when you grind this out, 1500 W is 5119 BTU. Is that a lot? No. A typical furnace for a modestly sized home is probably around 75,000 BTU per hour and a larger home could have a furnace well over 100k BTU per hour. Clearly, this thing cannot heat even a very small home. It could not heat a single room by itself, assuming it wasn’t super-insulated (i.e., well beyond present standards).
Oh, and “uses less energy than it takes to run a coffee maker”? I don’t think so. We have a small coffee maker in our kitchen. It is rated for only 625 Watts. Granted, a very large unit might draw a bit more, but probably not 1500 Watts. Besides, coffee makers, like toasters, are not low energy devices to begin with.
At 1500 Watts, if you left this thing on all day as they advise you can, and your utility company charges 10 cents per KWH (mine charges more), you’re looking at $3.60 per day, or about $108 per month.
What we really have here is a simple resistive heater. You can buy an equally effective unit for somewhere around $40 or $50. They’re called space heaters. They’ve been around for a very long time in spite of the “engineering genius” work from China. The only genius here is a marketing ploy to wrap some hardwood around century-old technology and convince people it’s worth almost $600.