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Monday, 17 October 2016 15:21

Evapolar – a cubicle worker’s micro-climate (review)

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Open plan offices can have their share of micro-climates – those under the air-conditioning ducts freeze, while those at the windows sweat. What if you could create a micro-climate of your own – just for you?

I was approached by Evapolar which is self-described as a gutsy hardware start-up from St Petersburg in Russia. Yes, comrade, Eugene Dubovoy, and Vladimir Levitin made me an offer I could not refuse.

So a week later a box arrived from UPS containing my “personal air cooler” and after checking it for listening devices and hidden cameras (iTWire does have some secrets you know) I have been using it ever since to create a little pocket of bliss around where I work. So far, and I know it is not summer yet, it has obviated the need for me to turn on the costly AC.

Does it work? Yes, it does — mostly — but there are a few caveats that I will point out in the review.

Evapolar works on the evaporative water principle – essentially hotter dry air is passed through a medium (usually a pad made from absorbent, water-soaked, fabric) and in the process of evaporating (heat exchange) humidified cool air is blown out the front. It is an old principle that works extremely well when you have an external source of hot, dry air and in large spaces like warehouses or shops. It does not work if you have naturally high humidity.

Evapolar evap

The challenge is to apply that to indoors spaces where the AC may have brought the temperature down to 22° anyway.

In tests indoors, I found that it was capable of cooling down air from say 25° to about 20° being blown out the front. The “micro-climate” it created was a cone shaped area about one metre cubed – perhaps a little more and the gutsy Russians claim about 3-4m2 and drops of 6-8°.

Evapolar temp scale

So sitting at my desk with the unit on my right or left side did produce noticeable and pleasant results.

The unit costs US$179. For that, you get the 17cm square toaster-sized, unit, and a 5V/2A USB charger and micro-USB cable. It will also run from most standard USB 2.0 or 3.0 sockets on PCs or notebooks – it consumes 10W.

The water tank is backlit and easily removable — a nice relaxing blue colour (LED colour can be changed) — and holds about 750ml of water. I found it was easier to leave it in place and pour a jug of water into it just to avoid spillage. The water lasts about a day of use; no water means no cooling.

Inside is a cartridge made from basalt nano-mineral fibre that is mold and bacteria resistant so don’t expect any Legionnaires here. It also filters the air and could be classed as a purifier. The cartridge is replaceable, and I expect you would do this annually – it is a US$25 item. There is also a camera lens to monitor the cartridge and an oversized PC style of fan.

The unit is controlled by a rotary dial on top that shows temperature in and out and sets the fan speed.

Fan noise at 50% was barely noticeable but at 100% was about 40dB. I found the unit more effective and pleasant at 50% as it gives the impression of a cool waft rather than a breeze.

Ideal uses

I see this as something a cubicle worker would love as it can create a little micro-climate bubble to suit an individual's preferences. I think the purification and humidification aspects could help hay fever sufferers. It is eco-friendly, does not use coolant (other than water), and it does work as long as evaporation can occur (e.g. dry environments are fine).

Being USB powered it could also have applications in small tents, caravans, food trucks, etc., where something more than a fan would be useful. It may even be a good bedside device for night time use.

Opinion

Evapolar started as an Indiegogo project and achieved 259% of target funding — US$1,077,864 — so it was popularly accepted. It has been shipping since June and is now available for public use. You buy it online at their website and it arrives a few days later.

Another Australian review has given it five stars — I am comfortable with that within the given caveats — but keep it up close and personal!

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!