The winters in Kashmir are bone-chilling and heating gadgets are the only panacea to make out of the minus temperatures. These gadgets need an uninterrupted and good power voltage to make sure they will be the companions in below zero-degree temperatures. But mostly the scenario is the opposite, less voltages make it difficult to run these gadgets.
To cope with this issue a group of five girl peers: Simran Hameed, Bazile Farooq, Bazillah Sameen, Seerat Bashir and Wasifa Saleem made a prototype of a smart room heater which works on low voltage.
Simran Hameed, one of the innovators, said that the conventional blowers work well on a high voltage and prove useless when the voltage is low. She said, “During winters, every household gets low voltage electricity. The conventional blowers don’t function on less voltage and don't produce heat. Keeping these things in mind, we have designed a blower full of modifications.”
To overcome this problem, the team has made several modifications in the blower in such a way that whatever be the voltage, the blower will provide a sufficient amount of heat and with the low voltage requirement, the blowers can be operated on an inverter.
“With these modifications, our problems related to heating in winters will be solved. People will be able to use blowers and keep themselves warm,” she said.
She further said that another problem with the conventional blowers is that they are less safe. They have added protection circuitry to make it safer. The protection circuitry involves some sensors like temperature sensor, current sensor, voltage sensor and smoke sensor.
A current sensor is added to sense the changes in current. She said, “If short circuit may take place, in this situation we may need more current to flow so that the current sensor added to our blower will detect such abnormalities and it will automatically switch off the blower and there will be a disconnection between the blower and power supply thus avoiding further damage.”
A temperature sensor is added to sense the temperature of the heating element, motor and surroundings.
If there is a sudden temperature rise inside or outside the blower, the temperature sensor will sense it and the blower will stop working and there will be a disconnection between the power supply and blower. Thus avoiding accidents and making this blower a safer one.
A smoke sensor is also fitted to sense smoke and give an alarm whenever a fire breaks out and warn the user.
Also, the group of innovators felt a need to add a switch to make it better than the conventional ones.
The main reason behind adding an additional switch is to avoid fire accidents which are usually seen happening when the blower is kept under the blanket.
During times, when electricity is snapped, we forget to switch off the blower and when suddenly electricity comes, the blower starts working on its own.
She said, “The issue is when it gets covered with blankets, it blocks the cool air vent that stops the working of the fan and at the same time it will be getting continuous power supply which will lead to overheating of blower circuit which will then result in fire and can lead to any big accident.”
To avoid this incident, a switch named trigger switch is fitted with the blower which will allow the blower to work only when it will be switched on by someone and will not work on its own even if the main supply will be on.
She said, “Our blower is different from the conventional one as we made it different from others by making it an induction-based blower.”
The blowers have an induction-based heating system which has an induction coil as primary coil and an inductive plate. Both are positioned with proper spacing between them. A fan and a power supply inlet are also used. When supply is given to the primary coil, emf is induced in the inductive solid plate and voltage is increased in the inductive plate that resulting in warming up of air that passes through the inductive plate.
In conventional blowers, ac motors are used and for their proper working, they require high voltage. Since the blowers are expected to run on low voltage, dc motors are used.
Talking about the problems faced while working on the prototype, Simran said, “One of the biggest issues was that the motor has to work on low voltage so we used DC motors and it proved successful because dc motors require low voltage. The blower works properly even if the voltage drops to 70 volts or even less than that.”
Secondly, to keep the power constant to get sufficient heat, Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor is used which will work to keep the power constant irrespective of the charge in voltage.
There are also some output devices. One of the output devices is an LCD display which displays different values of temperature, voltage, current and smoke levels.
A power fan is connected which is a 12v DC fan. However, in conventional room heaters, an AC fan is used. The purpose of replacing the fan is to make sure that the fan does not stop working even at low voltage. Also, a power drive circuit consists of a number of power amplifiers. These amplifiers drive the loads at different voltages for their proper functioning.
The patent for the prototype has been filed under application number 202111052990 and the patent has been published by the Patent Authority of India.
The students have worked under the guidance of Jehangeer Aurshad and Rouf-ul-Alam Bhat.
Jahangeer Aurshad who runs the Kashovatics Lab said that the modified blower is an important heating gadget while keeping in view the safety concern and its usage. “The conventional blowers are manufactured outside and the manufacturers are not aware of the low voltage conditions. 220 v of power is required for a blower to function but in some areas, the voltage goes below 100,” he said.
He further said that when voltage goes below 100, the fan stops, it overheats and causes fire. “Being Kashmiri, we have to think about it. We have used a relying mechanism for it and our blower works on 35 v of power as well,” he added.
The innovators are currently looking for angel investors to convert their prototype into a functional entity. Simran said, “We are looking for angel investors for mass production as the cost will be more and we as students will not be able to afford it.”