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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Bed Cooler - A Worthwhile Investment

30 April 2013


One of my family had a backache recently and had to be bed-ridden for about 2 weeks.  One of the many things I did was to buy her a Gel filled cooling pad.
But this pad only has gel inside and required to be cooled every now and then by the fridge.   Bed cooler on the other hand has its own chiller unit and provides constant cooling to the bed.   This article will detail the experience and the research that I have done on bed coolers. 


What is a Bed Cooler?

In the market,  there are several type of bed cooler.  Some pump air into a special made mattress; 

others,  pump chilled water into tubes or special mattresses.

This article will concentrate on the latter.

 Most bed coolers have the following 6 components:-
1)   A chiller unit which takes out the heat from the water returns from the bed

2)   A small pump which circulates that water to and from the bed

3)   A set of tube usually made of silicone or a special mattress with sealed grooves that allows chilled water to flow within

4)   A temperature controller that regulates and controls the temperature of the chilled water

5)   A water reservoir that stores up the chilled water

6)   A special mattress or set of tubes that allow chilled water to run underneath the bed sheet


Different Types of Bed Cooler

In the market,  there are basically 2 different type of bed cooler.    Commonly seen are bed coolers with a small electronic Peltier chillers that run on 12 or 24 volts supply.  The package comes with a control unit that contains all the first 5 components. The special mattress is always coming as a separate unit.  It is "plug and play"  type. 

This type of bed cooler is sold around SGD $800/= for single bed and about SGD$1,300/= for a double bed.

The other type not commonly seen are the bed coolers with an ordinary chiller unit that runs on freon gas.  Though freon chiller unit is 75% more efficient in term of energy usage,  it is not portable and requires piping installation.

What are the Advantages?

1.  Energy Savings

Bed cooler will cool the bed to about 23C-25C which will reduce the need to have room air conditioners turning on all the time;  thus can save 50% to 90% of the electricity consumption according to a test carried out using data acquisition method.
if the bed cooler is of the silicon tube type that runs tubes underneath the bedsheet,  the uneven temperature distribution can be even out by placing a Gel filled cooling pad on top of the tubes.  The gel pad can save more electricity.

2) Balancing Body Temperature

Bed cooler will remove the body heat and keeps that body temperature to a desired temperature, comforting the body  and balancing the body's temperature as one sleeps on the bed. 

Most Chinese believe anti-inflammatory plasters that can relieve body pains as the plasters have camphor or menthol in them. They provide cooling sensation  that will  relax the body's muscles.  The bed cooler will also relax muscles and especially true  for relieving muscle clamps.

3)  Insomnia and Skin Peelings

The author used to have mild insomnia, having difficulty going back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. This sickness has not occurred since we have the bed cooler.  May be the cooling of the back and body has the effect of bringing about a better sleeping behaviour. Also noticed is that the hands and fingers are not as dry as before and skin peelings have much reduced.

4)  Preventing Bed Sores in Hospitals

The hospital mattresses and pillows are always lined with PVC covers instead of linen sheets and other materials for hygienic  reasons and ease of cleaning.  Unfortunately,  it bring about a bed sore problem to those patients who are unable to turn their bodies and backs.  Nurses could help but there are limitations.  Bed cooler is the answer.   It can be designed as part of the hospital bed with quick connect-disconnecting devices that have been used for filling up petrols during car racings.  


Other Information


1) Blanket Covering

It is a good practise to cover the bed with blanket first and turn on the bed cooler half an hour before going to bed. With the blanket covering, one could get some cooling for the whole body. If one can construct a movable and collapsible hood with a big and clear plastic sheet or cloth and attached it to the head board such that it can be pulled it down to cover over the head, one can even get some cool air to pass through the head as well.

2)  Water Treatment

Unless the circulating water system is totally sealed and free from air contact,  bacterias will form and will foul the water to give awful smell.  In that case,  there will be a need to treat the water either chemically or otherwise to get rid of the bacterias and chlorinated water is often used.  Therefore,  it is important for the bed cooler to be constructed of materials that can withstand such water treatment process.

3)  What  should be the temperature setting?

It will depend on each individual.  Some like it cold while others like it warm.  Our body temperature is around 37.7 C,  it is therefore more comfortable to set the bed cooler to not less than 10 C differences or around 27 C;  a temperature setting around 29 C -30 C will be comfortable although it might take time to cool the bed.    One can also operate the bed cooler together with normal air conditioners which can be set to lower the room humidity for comfort cooling.  In this case, the room temperature will around 27 C instead of normal 24C-25C to save electricity. 


What about rheumatism?

There is no direct body contact with water.  However, Scientists have found that weather or temperatures and humidity's variation doesn’t cause rheumatism and doesn’t damage joints  but they did find that weather does affect the severity of rheumatic pain. This is because bones, tendons, muscles, and joints have different densities and expand or contract differently when exposed to drops or rises in temperature and humidity.   These weather sensitive people may found it uncomfortable with this kind of cooling. 


Can One DIY Bed Cooler?

 The author has DIY a bed cooler using a second hand aquarium chiller and silicone tube that is used to provide air to aquarium tanks.  It has been giving satisfactory results.

Cut Cooling Bills by 90%
Spot Cooling Cuts Aircond Bills by 50%
DIY Bed Cooler
Bed Cooler for Ng Teng Fong Hospital

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