Inventors say their product’s time has come

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Heatbox has solved the problem of ventilation systems that the product’s inventors say do not heat homes properly.

In 2011, Otago University published a study to back up anecdotal evidence that looked at the actual heating performance of these systems.

The study concluded that “for the majority of the time, it was calculated that pumping air from the roof space into the house would provide little heating or cooling benefit. In fact, this would often actually act to push the internal temperature in the house further away from the desired level, rather than closer to it”.

The University of Otago research looked at the heating and cooling potential of moving roof space air into a home’s living areas, as the most common type of home ventilation system does. 

The report recommended that “this type of ventilation system – known as a “positive pressure” or “roof cavity” system – should not be promoted or installed based on potential heating or cooling benefits”.

Enter the HeatBox Mini, a compact heater that can work with ventilation systems to provide heating for two rooms.

It has the twin benefits of increasing the ventilation performance of the system and providing energy efficient heating using the same ducts.

Placed in the roof cavity, the HeatBox Mini uses existing ventilation outlets to blow warm air into the room where the vent is located.

It also comes complete with a separate inlet vent to create natural air movement within the room, and a 24/7 fully programmable Siemens thermostat so that occupants can control the temperature in the room.

Invented by Kiwi Italian Massimo Biscuola and former builder Daryn McDonald (right), the HeatBox system uses revolutionary patented carbon panels for heating.

Unlike more conventional electric heaters which generate radiant heat using a heated metal coil or heat pumps that use coils to transfer heat, the Heatbox uses thin film carbon resistive panels. These panels act as resistors and warm up to around 120°C.

The most remarkable thing about the HeatBox panels is how efficiently they heat. A typical 2.4 kW unit can comfortably heat four medium-sized rooms. That’s the electricity consumption of a standard bathroom heater, or a hairdryer.

The heating technology used in the HeatBox has been used for many years in saunas. But Massimo and Daryn saw the opportunity to create a whole new category of home heating system, especially when they saw how enthusiastically kiwis had embraced home ventilation systems to try and dry out and ventilate their houses.

Mr Biscuola grew up in Switzerland and Northern Italy where he says every home has a central heating system.

“It’s the first thing you design when you are building a house. In most New Zealand homes, it’s one of the last things people think of adding,” he says.

“A warm dry house is not a luxury — it is essential to healthy living. The beauty of the HeatBox system is that it can be retrofitted to existing houses or included in the design of a new home,” Mr Biscuola says.

“Installations are unobtrusive, being either hidden in the ceiling or under-floor cavity — and can be completed in a couple of hours.

“There’s no question that heat pumps have been the electric heater of choice for the past 10 years. However, we’d like to see a New Zealand-designed HeatBox product manufactured by kiwis in every home one day. We are committed to affordable, warm healthy homes.”

Available through selected PlaceMakers stores nationwide, the Heatbox Mini retails for $1495, and is compatible with any existing ventilation system.

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