Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation! Today I’m pleased to be talking to ISI Technology about their HEATWORKS MODEL 1. Thank you for joining us today.
It is fantastic to be here. Thanks you so much for this opportunity.
MODEL 1, at first glance, just seems like an electric tankless water heater; what makes it different from other water heaters on the market?
Other than using electricity and water, everything is different. Traditional water heaters transfer energy via convection with a metal rod heated to temperatures in excess of 800 degrees F—vulnerable to element burnout and mineral plating—and use flow switches to switch the elements on or off, which is an unreliable technology. Heatworks MODEL 1 uses multiple pairs of graphite electrodes to excite the water molecules, the water is heated from the friction that results from their collisions. MODEL 1 senses water flow beginning at 0.1 gallon per minute (compared to 0.5 GPM or more for all other gas or electric units), activating the heating system. Sensors inside the unit measure the water more than 60 times per second to detect temperature, while the number of graphite electrodes at work are continuously adjusted to use only the perfect level of power.
Since we eliminate heat transfer, nothing ever gets hotter than the water itself, eliminating plating and scalding. The MODEL 1 also eliminates the average 30-second delay needed for traditional water heaters to activate, heat up and transfer that heat, (think of an underwater toaster) saving water and energy. The MODEL 1 also auto senses voltage from 100 to 277 Volts AC , cycles from 50 to 60 Hertz, and is user adjustable from 15 to 48 amps. As a result, the MODEL 1 replaces dozens of competitive models. On top of all of this, it is the only smart, 100% digital electric water heater that can be controlled by WiFI, so you can measure and control power, duration, temperature, usage data, and much more. By combining these powerful technologies in the unit the size of a football, Heatworks MODEL 1 is a one-size-fits-all smart solution that makes it easy to attain perfect, reliable hot water.
I understand that tankless water heaters save water by not having to reheat a big tank of water constantly, but how does the MODEL 1 compare to other electric tankless water heaters? How does it compare to gas tank-less heaters?
We are all subject to the same laws of physics - it requires x amount of electricity to raise water temperature by y degrees. It is what we do with that x amount of power that matters. Other electric tankless are prone to failure due to the extreme heat inside the heating units and they cannot handle low flow. Because of latent heat, present in all conductive water heating, they cannot control temperature very well, and present a real scalding risk. The MODEL 1 is all solid state and uses microprocessors to monitor the outlet water temp, adjusting it 60 times a second, using only as much power as needed to maximize efficiency and provide great temperature control. Natural gas is a great power source, and is generally less expensive to operate than electricity, but installation can be very expensive. NG tankless units have the same problem that other electric tankless do, which is that they have scaling and mineral build-up problems, and they require very high flow rates to turn on, which wastes water.
As someone who is a bit more familiar than I would like to be with hard water and all the damage that causes, how do your graphite electrodes not end up like traditional elements? Damaged and covered in hard water minerals seems to be the norm for anything in the water system in hard water areas.
Since nothing inside of the MODEL 1 ever get hotter than the water itself, the extreme heat required for scaling or plating of minerals on the heating elements just cannot occur, hard water or not. Additionally, graphite is considered a dry lubricant and as you remember from using lead pencils, it is slippery stuff, so things don’t stick to it.
How “no maintenance” a system is the MODEL 1 really? Surely it requires inspection every couple of years at least? With such a new and different system who would even repair or work on it?
Zero maintenance. No scale, no metal heating elements, no moving parts. If it fails for some reason within the warranty period, send it back for a new one.
Kickstarter seems like an odd place to bring a water heater concept. What made you decide to launch a Kickstarter project?
I agree. My partner did not think KS followers would be thinking about water heaters. But we knew the KS reader was an enlightened person, curious about new technology and eager to embrace it. So we saw KS as a means to reach out and gauge reaction. The positive response really overwhelmed us and confirmed our view that people were tired of archaic technologies that offered no improvement in hot water delivery in decades. What is really exciting is that they want to connect to, and be in charge of their home environment, proactively saving water and energy and having great shower along the way.
How did you discover Kickstarter?
I think Wired Magazine, but I have been a follower for some time and have backed several projects. KS is the place to be for innovation in art and science and we are fans of both.
A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer. How are you engaging your backers? What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on? Interviews? Videos? Stories from the project?
We plan on keeping our backers up to date with our progress on getting our first several thousand units built and to market. Installation videos are underway, although there is nothing more to that than what any other water heater requires, other than possibly additional power. A survey is being drafted, as we want to learn more about how our backers will use the MODEL 1 and we are curious as to what aspect of their current hot water experience is leaving them unsatisfied. Is it the short life span of current technology? Is it wasting energy? Is it wasting water that makes them feel bad? That bothers us, which is one of the reasons we designed a state of the art water heater that can operate effectively at flows as low as 0.1 GPM. Frankly, we get annoyed every time we test a competitor’s electric tankless model against the MODEL 1 and we see the half gallon or more of purged cold water just wasted going down the drain.
What kind of media attention have you received with your project? How are you spreading the word? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Youtube? Advertising? Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?
A number of green and technology blogs have picked us up, like Treehugger, Softpedia and Clean Water Space. We are being interviewed by some well known print magazines and have been nominated for some technology and design awards, we won't know about those for some time yet. We are spreading the word through Facebook, friends and families, and our backers themselves.
Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?
Ya, do it! Be prepared to spend a lot of time communicating with your backers. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Thank you for spending your time with us! Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
I just read another article about the water shortage in California, and in over 30 states in the US. We feel really great about being able to do something about that by providing a state-of-the-art, reliable product that uses less water, sometimes as much as 10-20 gallons per day. That adds up quickly and could make a huge difference to everyone.
Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!
Thank you, this has been fun.