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[personal profile] jenett
A post via Lifehacker reminded me I've been meaning to write this up for a bit.

My body does not do thermoregulation well - specifically I tend to overheat easily, with occasional periods of "Why am I shivering?" And I am a person who expects this may get more so in the next few years, because menopause is on the horizon.

Last summer, I found a really good sale on something I'd been eyeing for a while (they run 20-25% sales fairly regularly if you sign up for their list, and you can sometimes get 30%), namely a Chilipad.

There are lots of things out there you can use if you want to make your bed warmer. (More blankets. Different blankets. Electric blankets and heating pads...) There are not so many you can use to make it cooler - basically, make the room cooler (windows, AC), there's a fan that blows air under the blankets (I tuck my feet into a fold of the blankets at the end, so that doesn't work), and... well, the Chilipad.

Which will cool down to about 55F and heat up to about 110F. I am very glad I have mine, and figure some of you might also be interested, so...

(Note: This is a public post, so people can share it, since there's a number of video reviews up, but not a lot of text-from-individuals. That said, my medical stuff is complicated, and unless you know me and my stuff pretty well, I'm not interested in advice/suggestions (and even if you do know me well, not on this post, please.)


What it is


The Chilipad has two parts: one is a mattress pad with thin silicon tubes running through it that carry water (plain water you added). One end of the mattress pad plugs into the machine that heats or cools it, which is about the size of a breadbox (or, ok, 5ish hardcover books stacked together).

The cube has touchpad controls on the top (on/off button, and then up and down) and there is also a remote (which I find easier to use.)

The pads come in different sizes - I have a full size bed, and got a single (which was $314 with the sale I had), which covers about 2/3 of the bed (and all of the spot I actually sleep in.) I actually like having a corner of the bed where I can tuck my foot if it gets too cold but the rest of me is fine. The single size pad is half of a queen size bed.

The pad has elastic straps that go around the mattress and I've found it stays in place pretty well. You can also use other mattress pad clips to hold things in place, just don't crimp the water tubes.

They also make dual pads, where each half goes to a different cube, for people who want one pad on the bed, but sleep with someone else (in a queen or king size bed).

The basic system is that you add water to the cube (until filled appropriately), turn on the cube, set the temperature if needed, and then it will heat or cool the water and circulate it through the pad. Rinse and repeat.

What it's like


It's not a replacement for heating or air conditioning - because it's interacting with the surrounding air, it can't cool as far if it's hot in the room, or heat as much if the room is very cold. And it doesn't do anything about humidity in the room (like air conditioning will.) But it will help the 'temperature in this bit of bed', sometimes a lot.

I've found I can set the AC comfortably 3-4 degrees higher (sometimes a bit more) because of the Chilicube. And it will also help if you share living space with someone where you have a 5 or 8 degree range of difference on your preferred temperature, especially when sleeping.

It also helps me tremendously with short-term things like hot flashes and other personal temperature regulation issues when the ambient temperature in the room is just fine, my body's throwing a fit right now.

I pretty much keep mine to somewhere between the lowest setting (55F) and maybe 62F, even in the dead of winter when the current apartment is around 68. But I overheat really really easily.

With that, I no longer wake up sweating in the morning, I don't have overheating waking me up once or twice a night, and I can burrow under the nice insulating blanket and feel cozy and cool without getting unreasonably hot (or having my foot attacked by the cat...)

I also like the fact that a couple of times I've had back spasms or other aches, and I could turn it on and have full body warmth for a bit.

Things to know


(Most of this info is somewhere in the manual and/or their website, but some of it is not very obvious.)

1) Location for the cube


The cube needs to have air circulation all the way around it. In other words, it can't be in a cabinet with a hole for the water tube) because of how it heats/cools.

And the place where it is has to be close enough to the bed for the tubing to reach (and an electrical outlet, but that's probably the easiest part to solve.)

2) The cube is a cat magnet.


The cube is a small flat surface that (when cooling) produces heat and vibrates very slightly (because of the fan). This, combined with the touch pad, means my cat turned it off multiple nights running before I realised what was going on.

Mine is now in a little metal bookshelf with not enough space for the cat to wedge herself above the cube. [personal profile] kiya notes that the cat magnet properties also affect toddlers.

3) There is a modest amount of maintenance.


First, you have to fill it with water (distilled water, to avoid minerals in your tubing).

The water will slowly evaporate, so you need to test every so often (right now in the middle of the dryness of winter, I need to top off the water every 3-4 days). If there's insufficient water, it will turn off to avoid damaging the system.

I also use distilled water in my CPAP humidifier so I just check when I fill the humidifier and have my gallon of distilled water uncapped. (Testing just involves unscrewing the cap, sticking your finger to see if you can feel water up into the cap area, and refilling as needed. It doesn't take a ton of water to top it off.)

Every three months or so, you need to run a maintenance cycle - drain the water, refill with a mix of water and cleaner that includes hydrogen peroxide, let it run on high heat for 6-8 hours, clean off any particles or foam that rise to the top of the cube container with a damp paper towel. Then drain the cube again, and refill with fresh water.

The pad itself is machine washable (in a laundromat machine or whatever you'd use for comforters/duvets/etc) with some instructions about making sure the connector part doesn't bang around.

4) Tubes


You may be able to feel the tubes while lying on them.

I mostly can't (mine is on top of a wool mattress pad, so it sinks in), but I do occasionally turn over and go "Oh." They're small, about the size of your average phone charging cord or a little bigger, but they're more rigid with water running through them.

5) Time awareness helps


It takes a little time for the system to build up heat or cool - I usually try to remember to get mine going about 20-30 minutes before I want to go to sleep.

It also works best if there's insulation between it and the surrounding air. A blanket, sheets, etc. all help. (I use a lightweight wool comforter in a cotton cover as my blanket in all seasons, because I have a cat who applies a single sharp claw to unsupervised appendages.)

The system will also turn off after 10 hours (this is a thing that took me ages to figure out). You can reset the timer by turning it off and back on, but of course who wants to do that in the middle of the night.

In other words, if you want to sleep in a lot, either turn it on to cool down your bed (or warm it up) and then turn it off for a couple of minutes and back on right before bed to cool down in advance, or turn it on right before bed.

6) Efficiency depends on surrounding climate.


So if it's 80F in your bedroom, you're probably not getting the pad down to 60F. (Source: see the heat issues in my last apartment).

However, it will make the specific spot you're in not quite as hot and sticky as the rest of it. You will still want a fan, AC, etc. though.

7) Energy efficiency is pretty good


Or about the same as a good-size fan (so, much less than an air conditioner or space heater), besides being localised to you. And as noted above, I can keep the AC in my bedroom noticeably higher.

Questions?


Glad to entertain other questions here - this solved a really specific need for me, and there's not a lot else that will do that reliably.
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