Ideas: Thermoelectric Cooling

I was just pondering the heating pad the other day. Why aren’t there cooling pads? Which of course there are, but from what I can tell, it’s mostly in a hospital setting to help hyperthermic patients. But I’ve been pondering more… day to day use.

For example, I am a person who is a freaking furnace. I am almost always super warm, like I seem to run hotter than most people. People will be shivering in a parka outside, and I’ll be in a tank top and shorts like “yeah, it may be a bit chilly”. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it isn’t that far of one. But during the summer when I am about 2 seconds away from literally melting (well, yes, figuratively, but it certainly feels like it will literally happen when the temperature is above 23 for me), something along the lines of a cooling pad would be really good for me. I did find this – a mattress pad that you can use thermoelectric coolers to adjust the temperature of water that circulates through it, allowing you to cool or heat it depending on your preference. But the price – $499, and I assume it’s USD. For a twin. I can’t afford that! I didn’t even spend that much on my bed frame and mattress combined! I am also thinking… smaller. A large cube thingy plus a mattress pad seems kind of… hard to tote around. I want something with the convenience of something like a heating pad, ice pack, or hot water bottle, and at about the same size. Bonus if I can make a cute stuffed animal out of it. But I don’t want to have to remember to put it in the freezer or anything like that. I can deal with if I have to plug it in and/or fill it with water. I have one of these things:

96b3_usb_thermoelectric_cooler_warmer

USB Thermoelectric Cooler (and Warmer), perfect for a can of pop.

Which is a little fridge shaped thing with a little thermoelectric plate at the bottom of the device that can either heat or cool things (you can get one here). And it’s approximately the diameter of a pop can, and from the looks of it is about an inch or so high? I know at least cooling can be miniaturized reasonably small like this for what I want to use it for. The heating part, I am not sure about. I don’t think it would be safe to stick a metal plate that can get pretty hot in a stuffed animal or in a small blanket-looking thing. But the cooling for that would theoretically work in a heating pad-like thing. Or could be used to alter the temperature of water (or another liquid) to pump through a heating pad-like thing. I think running tubes of water through fabric of some sort would be significantly safer than sticking the metal plate in there. I have been trying to research thermoelectrics but… it’s a little above my head unfortunately.

I was also thinking of other applications for stuff like this… I’ve been having great fun in making lunch bags lately, I’ve made one for my sister, my mum and am working on one for myself. Having something that you could cool (and would stay cold instead of melting throughout the day) would be a good thing to put in a lunch kit – especially for people who work in an office with an overcrowded fridge (and food thieves), or people who need to bring a lunch/dinner but don’t have access to a fridge (like students).

Finished the lunch bag I was making for my mom for christmas!

A post shared by @blackcatblight on

I was also thinking of using the plates combined with fans to potentially use for like… personal temperature control units. Like in the summer if it’s too hot, you could use a cooling plate and a fan to make a personal AC, and likewise in the winter when it’s cold you could use it to make personal heating units with the plate hot. And if you make them so they plug in or can be recharged, they could be very handy! And the personal AC type one could be useful to people who dress in mascot costumes, or cosplay in large armor-like suits or fursuits. Overheating is a legitimate problem with those kinds of costumes, and an AC of some sort would make it much safer to wear them.

If I do manage to figure something like this out in a stuffed animal type incarnation, I am definitely going to make myself a plush of Snowball, the drone belonging to Mei-Ling Zhou in the game Overwatch. There is a really good picture of it in the reference that Blizzard provided here. And if you want quick gratification, it’s the adorably angry looking face on Mei’s back in the below pic.

mei-screenshot-004

Screenshot from the official Overwatch page for Mei. Snowball is the little angry face in the farthest right, middle-ish area of the image.

It would be really awesome if I could figure out the cooling Snowball plush because I do really want to cosplay Mei sometime when I can go to the Calgary Comic Expo again, but I dread even just thinking of attending a convention in a warm jacket like she wears. Plus, having it as a cooling plush would be in character considering her main “thing” is ice!

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