Heatfiniti: the physics-defying home heating device scamming worried homeowners Mike Hall The Skeptic

Winter has landed with a bump in the UK, as it has around much of Europe, with drivers and commuters alike caught out by unexpected snowfall and freezing temperatures which have left ice on the roads and people shivering in their homes.

Especially in the wake of soaring inflation and possible energy shortages, social media is full of energy-saving tips, for example recommending the use of personal electric blankets instead of the central heating. I even briefly considered using my gaming PC to mine some cryptocurrency, in the hope that the wasteful energy expended might heat the flat a little.

In recent months, YouTube has been enjoying an advertising campaign promoting a product named ‘Heatfiniti’ which promises to solve this problem once and for all. Heatfiniti says it can ‘heat your home for less than a dime’; surely a god-send in the current meteorological and economic climate?

According to the ad campaign, the Heatfiniti product was created by a 42 year-old jet engineer named Tucker, who ‘grew up with his grandparents’, and saw how seniors living in ‘the North’ struggled with the cold. Tucker is said to have created a ‘one of a kind device’ which creates a ‘perpetual heat loop, recycling the heat that’s generated so none of it goes to waste’, with the ad claiming the device will heat a freezing room from ’15 to 25 degrees in two minutes’.

According to their website you can ‘forget feeling cold’, since it warms any room instantly. It uses 30% less energy (though it doesn’t say than what) and is thermostatically controlled. Heatfiniti will automatically turn off when it gets too hot. And this amazing device is an absolute steal at the RRP of £99 — but they’re going one better and practically giving this away at less than £50.

So what is this thing? I actually purchased a device to be able to examine it in more detail, so I can tell you that this looks to be a ceramic heater. The device passes an electrical current through a block of semi-conducting ceramic. This has a resistance, so it will heat up as the current passes through.

The fancy nice physics here is the ceramic heating elements also act as a thermistor, so the hotter it gets, the higher the resistance. This gives it this natural ceiling to the amount of heat: the element can’t overheat because as the temperature increases, so does the resistance, and eventually it’ll reach an equilibrium.

Surrounding the ceramic blocks you have a metal heat sink, which draws the heat away from the ceramic, and a fan at the back blows cool air across the heatsink, which warms that air and propels it out — so heating the room.

But do the claims here stack up?

I am immediately suspicious of the claim that this product was created by a jet engineer looking to take care of his chilly grandmother – not least because this product is readily available wholesale to drop-ship on the website Alibaba.

Drop-shipping is a retail model which allows businesses to sell products without keeping stock. Instead the wholesaler fulfils orders for them. So when someone buys the Heatfiniti product, Heatfiniti just needs to send the order to their wholesaler in China who will dispatch it directly to the consumer. The wholesalers will often customise the packaging for you, printing your company logo on the product and the box to make it look like a bespoke product. The wholesale cost is as low as just $5 per unit, a fraction of Heatfiniti’s ‘discounted’ price of £50 per unit.

This also means that Heatfiniti aren’t the only people selling the product they claim to have invented. The same portable heater is also available from other vendors under names like AlphaHeat or EliteHeat. You can even pick them up unbranded on Amazon for around £25 – which is where I bought mine.

So Tucker the Jet Engineer is unlikely; this is just a device you can pick up wholesale from Alibaba and rebadge. What about the claims made for the efficacy of the product?

The ad claims the device can heat a room from 15°C to 25°C in just two minutes, with the website further clarifying that the size of the room is 500 square feet. According to Alibaba, this device draws 500 Watts – which makes it easy enough to work out the physics.

You have a mass of air in a room, at 15°C. You turn on a 500W heater. Let’s assume the heater is 100% efficient; it’s not but let’s give it the best case scenario. How long will it take to get to 25°C?

A room of 500 square feet is around 45 square metres. Let’s say ceilings are 2.5 metres tall, so the total volume of the room is around 112 cubic metres. There is some furniture in there, of course, so let’s say 20% of that volume is furniture. So our room has 90 cubic metres of air.

Density of air at 15°C is around 1.22kg per cubic metre, which means our 90 cubic meures of air has a mass of around 110 kilos. The Specific Heat Capacity of air is around 1,005 joules per kilo per degree.

This means that to heat one kilo of air, at a constant pressure, by one degree will take 1,005 joules of energy. And so to raise a room by ten degrees, from 15°C to 25°C, we will need to add 10 x 1,005 x 110 = 1.1 million joules of energy.

If the device draws 500W, that means it draws 500 joules per second. So to add 1.1 million joules of energy, at a rate of 500 joules per second, it will take 2,200 seconds or around 36 minutes to heat the room. This is almost twenty times longer than the two minutes they claim. And again, this is assuming 100% efficiency. This assumes that every joule of energy we pull from the wall outlet becomes a joule of energy in the air, and we know that isn’t the case. There is power required to run the fan, there is power required to run the LED display, the room is not perfect and will be losing heat to the outside world, and so on.

Even ignoring all that, in perfect conditions, we are an order of magnitude out.

Of course, the natural next question is what would it take to heat a room from 15°C to 25°C in just two minutes. We still need to put a million joules into the air, so if we do that over two minutes, that’s 120 seconds, so that would require 9,195 Joules per second (9.2kW) to make this happen.

The most we can pull out of the wall on a standard electrical socket in the UK is 13 Amps, which at 230 volts is around 3kW. If this thing worked as fast as it says it can, in absolutely ideal conditions, it would blow your fuses trying to pull something like 40 Amps out of the wall. That’s if it worked as advertised, which it doesn’t, because it can’t.

In short, Heatfiniti is a scam. The claims are nonsense, the ad is a fiction, and the device itself is cheap tat available online for a fraction of the price. But more importantly, pushing this product when some people are having to choose between heating and eating means it’s not only nonsense, it is parasitic as well.

The post Heatfiniti: the physics-defying home heating device scamming worried homeowners appeared first on The Skeptic.

With energy prices rising and many worried consumers unable to heat their homes, products like Heatfiniti look to cash in on the crisis with bogus claims around cost savings
The post Heatfiniti: the physics-defying home heating device scamming worried homeowners appeared first on The Skeptic.