With a major heat wave hitting the West, I’m hearing a lot of complaints from neighbors and folks north of me who haven’t yet felt the need to put in air conditioning. I share their pain, or would if I didn’t have a fix, because I too have trouble sleeping when it is blazing hot. Fortunately, I discovered a technology a few years ago that actually works to keep you cool at night and is far safer than an electric blanket when you want to keep warm. It’s called the ChiliPad. Let me explain how I found it and how it works.
Dumping the Heat
Like a lot of folks, my wife and I can’t agree on the temperature in the bedroom. I like it chilly because I sleep better when I’m bundled up, and she likes it warmer, but at the temperatures she likes I’m a sweaty mess. Dual zone electric blankets and pads helped, but there have been a number of reports that putting electoral fields near your body can be hazardous to your health, and while they worked during the winter they didn’t work that great during the summer.
Image via Shutterstock
I kept thinking that the whole idea of cooling the entire house to get the bedroom cool was kind of silly, and I did install a zoned air conditioning system in the house to keep the cost down. But while this could keep my wife or me happy, it still didn’t make much sense to cool the entire room if we were basically covered up on the bed.
Now, the first technology I found was a bed fan that seemed promising, called a mattress cooler. It sits at the foot of the bed and blows air under the covers. This is interesting, except that if the room is warm, so is the air being blown, and having air on my feet while sleeping takes a bit of getting used to. They also have foam pads that allow air underneath you when you sleep (not electric) and supposedly make you feel cooler. I never found one that seemed to do the job and there was still that ‘she’s too cold, I’m too hot’ problem.
I’d once thought a waterbed would solve the problem, but regulating the heat on one of those was iffy and once you’ve had a leaky water bed, you tend to never go back (tough to find one these days). What I thought someone should build is a technology like what they use to cool down racing drivers. Circulate chilled water underneath the sleeper and cool them off. This way you could regulate the heat for each sleeper and while it wouldn’t be cheap, in volume it should be affordable. So off to Bing I went and started searching to see if I could find someone who made one.
A few years ago, I found this little company selling something called the ChiliPad, and it was exactly what I was looking for. The ChiliPad is a mattress pad that connects to a floor box, which heats and cools the water on demand and comes in dual zones so you could heat or cool individually. It also has wireless remotes that allow you to pick a temperature below 60 or above 100, and it will heat or cool the water as appropriate. Be aware, this isn’t cheap – for a King-size bed the solution is around $1,000, more if you want the mattress and not just the mattress pad (we got the pad, I’d just bought a $2,500 mattress).
Now, other than the price, there are other things to consider. It uses water, which does evaporate, so you have to fill it from time to time and you’ll likely have to replace it every three to five years due to wear or leaks (one time the cat decided to chew through a hose). When cooling, it uses a heat exchanger and the fan, while quiet, isn’t silent. Still, it makes less noise than a room fan or the air conditioner on high. Finally, the control boxes aren’t very attractive and likely shouldn’t be placed under the bed (air needs to circulate around them to work, so finding something to cover them up with can be a bit of a challenge. However, being able to sleep at night is well worth the challenge.
The funny thing is that the ChiliPad works. We are on our second one, and I don’t know how I ever lived without one, particularly during the miserable heat wave we are having in the West. Now we have air conditioning, but for those that don’t or for anyone who is concerned about electrical fields near your body but who wants the convenience of an electric blanket or pad, this thing is worth checking out. Be aware that these are made by a very small company and not GE or Samsung, but they work; as we bake this week, finding something that works could be worth the money. Amazon sells them and, if you are like me and want to have a cool sleep in the hot summer, you should check them out. I’m kind of surprised more people don’t know of the ChiliPad, but now at least you do.
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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