Air-conditioning sizing requirements are based on a combination of factors: occupant load, lighting load, equipment load, building enclosure, and ventilation. Ultimately, air-conditioning is intended to satisfy human thermal comfort requirements, through control of temperature, relative humidity, air speed, and mean radiant temperature. A significant amount of energy is expended to condition air within a space, even more so with larger volume spaces with significant building enclosure exposure.
What if conditioning were applied more directly? The Tempronics office chair seeks to address control of mean radiant temperature more directly, allowing a room's air temperature to float a greater amount. The chair uses thermoelectric technology to either lower or increase the chair's surface temperature, with a power consumption of approximately 25 to 75 W, significantly less than the typical 1,000 W portable space heater.
We are probably most familiar with chair heating in automobiles, a highly effective mechanism. In fact, a significant amount of thermal comfort research was originally borne out of the automobile industry. This active chair may be the start of a wave of devices that seeks to couple conditioning more closely to occupants: a step beyond ceiling radiant cooling and heating.
Specifiers should consider:
-Integration of wiring with systems furniture to power chair.
-Longer term reliability.
-Parity - all users within a workgroup will need an active chair, if dramatic room temperature setpoint changes are employed. This technology is probably not appropriate for transient spaces, like conference rooms.
-Productivity - gains from improved comfort could offset the added cost of an active chair relatively quickly.