Friday, February 1, 2008

Are Edenpure and SunTwin Heaters a Scam?

Like many of you, I received a convincing brochure about a cutting edge space heater that will pay for itself in one winter season with it's savings in electricity.

Like you, I was skeptical. I live in an older poorly insulated house so the benefits listed in the Edenpure and SunTwin brochure looked enticing.

The story was that some guy accidently laid a piece of cured copper near a heat sorce, then noticed that the cured copper continued to give off a soothing even heat even after the other heat source was extinquished. This man got his inventor cap on and decided to create a self contained portable heater with his new discovery.

He added quartz heating lamps inside a box that pointed to cured copper plates that would absorb their radient heat, then a fan would blow air past those plates, thus creating an even heat source with better efficiency thus saving the consumer money.

Is this true? I studied it a few days and read other people's thoughts on the product on the net and decided to go ahead and buy a couple of them because I like space heaters that direct a concentration of heat in my direction like when I'm in my office chair. I don't like to heat the whole house if I don't have to. I get cold feet in the winter so I like to be able to direct my heat in a precise way.

I bought one for $450 that carried the name SunTwin. This heater is super quiet and creates a cozy flow of lovely warm air. This heater is encased in a beautiful chassis of hardwood like furniture and it had wheels to slide it to where I wanted it's heat. It also has a handheld remote controlled thermostat.

The shocking surprise
: the portable heater gave all the benefits short one, I couldn't back up their claims of energy cost savings. In fact, my electricity bill went up 15% from the previous year, even though we are having a mild winter in South Carolina in January of 2008. I can in no way support that this unit will pay for itself in one season. Sometimes, I only ran these Edenpure and SunTwin heaters without kicking in my whole house heat pump.

I will say that I like the heaters for other reasons. They are quiet, especially the SunTwin that is encased in wood, like furniture. The smaller Edenpure, that is boxed in plastic is almost twice as loud, but that works out fine for my bedroom creating white noise while I sleep. The other one, I keep in the den and it really fits in the decor.

The positive claims that I can support are that it gives a soft warm heat that over time will fill up a room with an even heat as compared to space heaters whose coils glow red hot and force out super hot air that rises to the ceiling immediately.

When I point the heaters directly at me, they don't make me yawn with sleepiness like ceramic and resistance heaters do that I buy at Wal-Mart. The theory is that the common heaters that glow red hot actually destroy oxygen in the air so that you immediately get sleepy in front of traditional space heaters. I do agree with this.

Another big selling point is their safety. I never have a fear with these SunTwin and Edenpure heaters causing a fire. In fact, I can pick them up anywhere and not get burned. The heating elements are deep within so not even a pet or child could knock them over to create a fire as far as I can see. I love that since I have 3 pets inside my house and I have always feared a fire with traditional space heaters that glow with red coils.

So, my evaluation of these SunTwin and Edenpure quartz heaters with cured copper internal plates is mostly positive, but I don't think they will pay for themselves as claimed in one season, but they do provide a beautiful comforting heat source. Even though I didn't save money, I do enjoy their heat. The heat they provide is a more even soft safe heat that doesn't make me sleepy when I sit close to them. In fact, I have one blowing at my back as I type this in my office in January.

I think the closest thing to the type of heat that these unique heaters are the oil filled radiator heaters that you can get at Wal-Mart. The reason I say that it that they don't burn the air with red glowing coils and they softly heat the room over a period of time through convection.

Bottom line for me on Edenpure and SunTwin quartz heaters- they produce a wonderful quality of heat and are considerably safer to use, especially around pets, but they have a 750 watt rating right on the smaller one and a 1500 watt rating on the SunTwin, so they probably won't pay for themselves in one season. So, if the safety features and the even heating without making you sleepy are worth it to you, then you'll love these space heaters. If you're just trying to save money, then I'd think twice.

2009 - a Year Later-

Now, I'm into my second season with the Edenpure and Sun Twin heaters. I still enjoy the quality of heat with both of them. They have proven safe and my cat sleeps on top of both of them often so they seem to be safer than those $30 to $60 ceramic space heaters that I used to use. Neither of these two heaters would be easy to knock over. I dare say that I don't believe either will ever get knocked over in my lifetime.

I still don't see any energy savings.

The larger Sun Twin for about $450 remains my favorite, but I started the season shipping it back to the company that sold it to me for repairs. I asked them specifically to replace the thermostat and said I'd even pay for it. The heater only had about 20 more days left to it's warranty when they mailed me a shipping label which they paid for. I went to UPS and shipped it off and about a week later it was returned to me. The invoice said free repair. The action they took was oiling the fan because it had a slow fan. I was ticked off! Why does a fan need oiling after one season anyway? Also, if it didn't fix the problem, then I was out of warranty.

To my surprise, they were correct and the heater has worked flawlessly for two months of constant use.

My 2009 bottom line is that they are wonderful heaters, but don't save you any money. If you like the other qualities enough to pay a premium, then they may be for you.

The qualities of heat they claim are:

-safer heaters- heating element run cooler and are deeper in the unit
-don't dry out the air because they don't get as hot
-don't take out oxygen from the air because they don't burn oxygen like coiled units
-they more evenly disperse the heat throughout the room because the heated air stays lower

I do like them, but I tend to buy expensive things for myself as I'm single with no kids. I've got $750 tied up in these heaters, so that would prohibit most reasonable households from buying them.
Here is an excellent review of them by Consumer Reports:

My Take in 2011:

I bought my first infrared heaters in 2007 and now here are my latest thoughts...

Ha, your "no one really cares" comment was my favorite in our thread. You're probably right.
As you can see, I put up this blog post on February 8th, 2008, so that tells you I bought my first Edenpure and SunTwin heaters in the Fall of 2007. We are now in our 4th winter season with the heaters so I feel I have some valid perspective on them.

I got a very expensive brochure from Edenpure probably around September of 2007 and the heaters looked and sounded awesome, but even their cheapest heater was 5 times the price of a WalMart resistance coil heater from Holmes, so I threw it in the trash.

The next day I pulled it out of the trash because I couldn't stop thinking about their claim that the heater would pay for itself in one season, so I reread the brochure and ordered their cheapest model. I liked it and used it in my bedroom. It made a soft rushing white noise that I found excellent for sleeping through barking dogs outside.

Then, I decided I wanted one for my den where my TV was so I ordered the larger SunTwin with a wooden cabinet. This larger and more powerful unit was actually much quieter so I pointed it right at me while I was watching TV. I loved it. Even my cat loved it becuase she would often sleep on top of it while it was running. I say I loved it, but I was ticked off when the power bill came. I could see no difference in power savings even though I thought I followed their instuctions to turn the central heat down in the rest of your house a few degrees and to use the infrared heaters in the room you were actually in. I don't know how well I did this because I'm cold natured, but my power bills were exactly the same as the previous year. I felt scammed, so by February of 2008 later that Winter I put up this post mostly in anger.

I continued to use the heaters and found that the other benefits of the heaters were accurate even though I doubted the savings claim.

The WalMart heaters and the Edenpure both said 1500 watts on the labels so I decided that they used the same amount of power, period. In fact, if turning your heat down a bit in the rest of the house and using the heaters primarily in the rooms you were in would save power, then the same technique could be used to save power with the WalMart heater, so I felt duped and was a bit mad at myself for falling for their slick brochure. My dad was an Air Force jet fighter pilot (number one in his class of 60 others) and a Hydrolic Engineer with a brilliant mind and he taught me to think things through when it came to products like this. My dad had me taking things apart and fixing them from an early age. We even had these 'build it yourself' products from Heathkit, so I was exposed to electronics at an early age. I watched my dad work for 3 weeks putting together our home stereo by soldering all the pieces to a circuit board. Later, when I was 16, we did a complete overhaul of my car's engine. It ran like a top.

Anyway, it was a cold winter so I kept using the heaters with no power savings and I started appreciating the other qualities they talked about in the brochure that didn't refer to power savings.
Here are the other claims they made that I found true:

1. Safety: my pets had overturned my cheap heaters from WalMart several times and I was terrified to leave them on especially if I went outside to work in my shop or went on a quick trip to the store. My house is a wooden frame house and in fact two of the rooms are log cabins from the 1840s, so I'm very concerned about safety.

I believe these heaters are absolutely safer than resistance coil heaters because they don't reach flammable levels even inside the heater. If the heaters were turned over, I'm confident they wouldn't start a fire even if the blower was directed right at paper or cloth. They have an automatic shutoff too when tipped over (which is VERY hard to do because of their weight and wide stance.)That's a big plus when you've got 3 pets in the house. My cat often slept on top of the SunTwin when I was watching TV in the den. You could touch any part of the heater from the outside without burning yourself so I appreciated this feature.

2. They don't dry the air. I've always had sensitive dry eyes so I've had to point fans or heaters away from my direction to keep them from drying my eyes out therefore I couldn't get the intimate warmth from other heaters by pointing them right at me. I had no problem with my eyes or nasal passages pointing these infrared heaters directly at me so they really helped to keep me warm when it was 14 degrees outside in a drafty house.

3. They don't burn oxygen from the air. To be honest, I have no way of testing if these or other heaters take oxygen from the air. I suppose that if the resistance coil heaters run so hot they can start a fire, they could alter the O2 in the air, but I'm just not sure.
I do know that the cheap heaters make me yawn and I get sleepy if I'm in front of them. It's possible that this is a result of reduced oxygen. I do not get sleepy in front of the infrared heaters which is a great plus since I make my living on a computer and I often have them directed right at me while I'm working.

3. They heat up a room more evenly. I have no way of testing this but I saw a infrared video online showing that resistance coil heaters put out heat and it then goes straight to the ceiling in one concentrated spot as where the infrared heaters heated the whole room more evenly therefore having less cold spots. This is probably true.

4. Caster wheels make them easy to move from room to room. The smaller Edenpure doesn't have these, but the SunTwin has very good wheels that roll over most anything. It's not a big deal, but they are convenient because I reposition my SunTwin constantly.

5. Remote controls: my two newest infrared heater have handheld remotes that operate all the features of the last two of the four that I own. This is a great convenience for me not having to get up to change a setting.

Now, for the things I don't like:

1. Expensive: no question about it, the heaters cost more and I can't say they don't pay for themselves as stated in the flashy Edenpure brochure.

2. Bulb replacement: the EdenPure and the SunTwin heaters do need to have the bulbs replaced every few years. My cheaper Edenpure has never needed a bulb replacement, but the SunTwin has had two bulbs replaced after the 3rd years of use. The bulbs also have glass surrounding them so I suppose they could be fragile under some circumstances.

3. Maintenance: after the first year, my SunTwin would start and run with heat for 15 minutes, then when it cycled, it wouldn't come back on. It was still under warranty from the reseller, so they sent me a free shipping label and fixed it for free (the dealer did this, not Edenpure or SunTwin). I was mad when they said that they simply oiled the fan due to what they called 'slow fan'. It did work for the rest of the season, but then the next year it did the same thing when it went out of warranty. I told them they should have replaced the fan and not cut corners by simply oiling it. This year, I had the fan replaced and two of the bulbs replaced. To be fair, my Honeywell resistance coil heater I keep in the bathroom is doing the same thing.

4. Requires about 3 more minutes to start warming a room and for the fan to kick in. There is a delay for the fan to start while it's waiting for the heating elements to warm up). I don't use the infrared heaters in the bathroom because the resistance heaters warm my tiny bathroom quicker also if the steamy showers affect the electronics, then I'd rather lose a cheap heater than an expensive one.
As you can see, once I get wound up, I can go on and on.

I was building a website for an Italian manufacturer of auto accessories which led to a tip on another company that needed a website. This year (2011) I had an offer to build a website for a newer ceramic infrared heater company based out of Columbia, SC. I asked to have two of their heaters as part of the exchange. I got the EcoSunTec 2-in-1 IAP 1000 and the EcoSunTec 3-in-1 IMAP 1000 as part of the deal. They even offered to fix my SunTwin in their service center for free. They replaced the fan and two bulbs. That worked out well for me because I do like this unit in my den while I'm watching TV because it's so quiet and looks great with the wood cabinet that matches my furniture.
I built the website at:

Both heaters will work as fans in the warmer months to cool me down and as heaters when it's cool. The IMAP 3-in-1 has a humidifier that's supposed to make one feel warmer for less power used which I think is a step in the right direction. It's like a sauna lite. This also helps your skin from drying out as well as your nasal passages and eyes. Both units have a remote control that I love so I can sleep with a cool room under the blankets, yet click the remote to warm the room a few minutes before I jump out of my bed using the remote from across the room.

Both EcoSunTec units have air purification year round. The 2-in-1 even has a PCO titanium system which kills airborne viruses, fungus and bacteria while deodorizing the room. It even kills the H1N1 virus.

I haven't started selling them, but if I like them, I will talk with the owners about doing so. I will continue to tell my likes and dislikes openly, but I will say that I like them better than the Edenpure and the SunTwin heaters as they don't have remote controls, a humidifier or air purification in the models I own.

Another thing I like about the EcoSunTec heaters is they use a ceramic infrared heating element rather the the fragile bulbs which I suspect will last longer and be less fragile, though they don't make that claim.

So, once again, my take on these is they are superior heaters compared to resistance coil heaters if you appreciate the features I listed above, but I don't suspect they will save most people money. Of all the heaters, I think the EcoSunTec 3-in-1 might save you a tad bit of money because of the humidifier making you feel warmer for less power drain.

As far as commenter below named alank44 (he said he didn't like anything made in China):  he called the Chinese, Chinks, I think that is unfair. I'm not wild about their government, but the people are fine and their products are among the best in the world. 40 years ago, one could be critical, but now their electronics are world class (though, they have had bad standards in allowing toxins in food for humans and pets).  I'm not crazy about our government either as they are passing laws and regulations to be more like the Chinese government.

I challenged Alan to name a product that the United States made that is better than what China produces. He never answered, he just called them Chinks.

I have some awesome friends from China living here in the US. They have a great restaurant which I frequent. They always invite me to their Chinese New Year parties every year for a decade and ask me to bring only myself. I made a video of one of those occassions here: