Initial Product Assessment - Group 14 - 2009

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Initial Product Assessment

1. The purpose of a Kerosene heater is to provide heating to reasonably large, well ventilated spaces such as garages and small warehouse buildings. The space restriction is to prevent the buildup of byproducts of Kerosene combustion, notably, sulfur dioxide, as might be the case in small spaces.

A. This product can be utilized for both personal and professional purposes. Its portability, coupled with its large British Thermal Unit (BTU) output and ease of use makes it suitable for personal use, be it to warm up a common sitting area or garage. This product can easily make the transition from the personal setting to a professional setting, where it can be utilized to warm up work spaces.

B. With regards to different functions, Kerosene heaters fall short in providing alternative uses outside their intended purpose, which is to provide heating. The light emitted by this heater lacks luminous intensity required to qualify it as a viable light source. Moreover, the onboard fans also lack the power required to produce significant air circulation, hence dampening its cooling capabilities.

2. The heater works by drawing Kerosene from a fuel tank located at the base of the heater. The fuel then passes through a fuel filter and then injected into a combustion chamber as a fine, volatile mist. It is then ignited electrically. The heat produced from this reaction is then projected out as a stream of hot air by the onboard fan, powered by an electric motor.

A. The types of energy used in this product include-

  • Chemical - (Kerosene)
  • Electrical – (Power Supply)
  • Mechanical – ( Electric Motor)
  • Thermal – ( Combustion)
  • Light – ( Combustion)

B. Chemical energy stored in the kerosene is utilized by being ignited through electrical energy from an outlet, which creates thermal and light energy that is, in turn, blown out from the heater by mechanical energy from the fan connected to the electric motor.

3. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the equivalent of a small portable propane heater and 10 is equivalent to the heating system for a house, it rates a 7. Since it consists of an electric motor/ fan, circuit board, and various gauges to control temperature, it is much more complex than a propane heater which typically has no fan (on simple models) let alone a circuit board. However, since the heating system for a house is much more refined, with an exhaust, the ability to control temperature independently in each room, and various blowers, the kerosene heater is not as complex as an indoor heating system.

A. Based off of looking at a similar product, we project that this product will have approximately 70 components. On the outside of this product, we see approximately 25 components –ranging from the wheels to the product casing, as well as dials and gauges. Since there are about 25 components on the outside, we can estimate that there will be at least the same on the inside, plus more, since the bulk of the product is on the inside.

B. Complexity of each component ranges throughout the product. Simpler components consist of parts such as simple screws holding the machine together, while more complex components exist in the form of a circuit board and on-board electric motor. These pieces are considered more complex in that each contains many parts themselves. The circuit board alone includes pieces such as thermostat, turbine controls and the other functioning “brains” of the product.

4. This product has several materials used in its manufacturing, some which are clearly visible and some immersed inside.

A. The materials that are clearly visible include-

  • Aluminum (For the fuel tank and outer casing)
  • Rubber (Used in the tires)
  • Plastic (Used in the control panel)
  • Copper/nickel (Used for the plug)

B. Materials inside include (but are not limited to)

  • Aluminum
  • Plastic
  • Nickel/Copper/Solder/Silicone (Circuit board)
  • Rubber (In the form of gaskets/tubing)
  • Magnet (in the electric motor)
  • Gas filter

5. Overall, we feel that we would be happy had we bought and used this product. Not only is the heater a cost effective way to heat a space, but also a very portable and easy to use one.

A. This product is very comfortable to use, not only does it provide heat (which in itself is very comforting) but it also features dials which are comfortable to use, manipulate, and read.

B. This product is very easy to use. It features a simple plug (and switch) to keep the heater running, as well as an easy to fill tank for the fuel. It also has a simple knob to control heat and an easy to read temperature gauge. Overall, this heater is very simple to use.

C. Like most products, the heater also requires regular maintenance. This includes being sure that all of the nuts and bolts are tight as well as keeping the filters clean. These tasks seem very simple to keep up with. The outer casing has the nuts and bolts that are easy to check and the filters inside do not seem like they would be very hard to get to.

6. There are several alternatives to this product, including the Reddy-heater, Mister Heater, and Northern heater.

A. Cost between each of these products depends on BTU output and size. Based on our model, we predict that our heater would cost approximately cost $350, and similar ones (such as Reddy-Heater) would run in the same price range.

B. The advantages to the more expensive versions of each heater include more functions and control (such as temperature and timed heating). They also may include the ability to process various fuels other than kerosene, as well as more heat output.

C. The disadvantages between these various products (all based on cost) may be a lower grade product with less functions, less heat output, and possibly less mobility. There are also more products that may heat in a cleaner manner compared to the kerosene heater with less fumes.