PHOTO: Sandiswa Qayi, inventor of the Hotspot geyser sleeve
AN innovative solution for electricity-guzzling geysers has been invented by an Eastern Cape woman, Sandiswa Qayi, and its development to commercialisation facilitated by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the CSIR.
The geyser sleeve or Hotspot (as it is more commonly known) speaks to the core objective of the Grassroots Innovation Programme, which is to recognise and work with innovators at the grassroots level and help them by incubating their ideas into commercially viable goods and services. In many instances, due to lack of funds, technical and expert support, these ideas never come to life. Once fully commercialised, these innovations will then, contribute to the local economy.
The Hotspot is an innovative solution to reducing household geysers’ high energy consumption and to make existing geysers work more efficiently. A product like this comes at a time when the country is grappling with the challenge of rising electricity costs and increased demand.
Qayi was working as the General Manager for Abenzi Woodhouse Skills Development Centre & Furniture Manufacturer when she came up with the idea for the Hotspot.
“To be a young black female who grew up in a rural setup where we used the sun to heat water before we had electricity, I never imagined I could contribute in this space as a manufacturer,” she says.
What is it? Qayi first had the idea for the Hotspot when she decided to design a solution to reduce her electricity bill AND save water – she loathed having to wake up at 4:30am to switch on her geyser to ensure that she had hot water by 6:30am.
She developed the idea with her business partner at Amahlathi EcoTech. It’s a simple but effective design – the geyser sleeve is manufactured from PVC using carbon black, calcium-based thermal stabiliser and a food-grade plasticiser used in toy manufacturing. The sleeve can be fitted over any standard geyser element to give hot water within 30 minutes of it being switched on.
Qayi explains that the Hotspot can be likened to the workings of a kettle whereby you only heat the amount of water you need.
The Hotspot is ideal for residential homes and for anyone who isn’t in a position to buy expensive solar geysers, timers or geyser blankets - enabling the user access to 50 litres of hot water at 50C in less than 30 minutes!
“What makes this product different from other similar ones on the market is that it allows consumers to heat the portion or volume of hot water as and when they need it, instead of heating the full geyser. It can be retrofitted onto any existing geyser element easily and will increase energy savings by more than 30%. It complements existing energy savers such as timers, geyser blankets and high-pressure solar geysers by giving the end user more control over the volume of hot water to heat when they need it,” says Qayi.
Why now? The Hotspot has been in the public eye since 2016 when it was first awarded the “Most Promising Youth-Led-Business” by the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme. The Department of Science and Technology has been associated with the Hotspot since.
The official launch of the Hotspot will celebrate its graduation from the Grass Roots Innovation Programme to commercialisation after successful multi-stakeholder seed funding for the R&D of the product through the Technology Innovation Agency, The Innovation Hub, Grass Roots Innovation and later, an IDC loan of R6,84 million to commercialise the product and get it to market.