It’s no secret that it’s much easier to create heat than to remove heat, which is probably why no one has created a “reverse microwave” yet. It’s also one reason why there is only a small amount of clothing and accessories built around cooling people off outdoors, especially those who work in the construction industry. Sure, you can install some fans around the job site, but they only help workers when it’s blowing directly at them. Now, a Japanese company is releasing their personal cooling jackets and hard hat fans to US customers and targeting the construction industry.
Zippkool, invented by Japanese manufacturer SFT Laboratory Co. Ltd, is making its American debut in May at the National Hardware Show 2016 in Las Vegas, which runs from May 4-6. The cooling jackets are powered by a lithium-ion battery, which can run the cooling fans inside the jacket for up to 20 hours on a single charge. Using two fans, which are located at the lower back, air is pushed through the jacket simultaneously cooling your body and evaporating sweat. That jacket will add a little weight obviously, since there are extra components. The two fans together weigh just over 7.05 oz, which is less than half of a pound and the battery will add additional weight, but that amount has not been released.
There are currently 5 different versions of the cooling jacket to choose from:
BP-500N – long sleeve, 100% polyester, cuts 99% UV, meant for outdoor use
BPN-500N – long sleeve, titanium coated polyester, blocks 92% IR heat and cuts 99% UV, meant for outdoor use
BPF-500N – Roughly the same as the BPN-500, but includes a hood
BM-500U – long sleeve, cotton jacket, meant for indoor use
BMK-500U – short sleeve, cotton jacket, meant for indoor or outdoor use
The main challenge with these jackets are the bulkiness, because, as you can imagine, blowing air inside a jacket makes you look like a balloon that’s ready to pop. Creating greater surface area can set a worker up for getting snagged on plenty of job site hazards, so it remains to be seen how well these jackets can hold up to the rigors of a typical job site. But, as you saw in the descriptions above, the outdoor jackets also provide an extra benefit, besides the cooling: UV protection. Construction workers are at one of the highest risks of getting skin cancer, due to the long hours worked in the sun and our general aversion to using un-macho sunscreen.
For those who may not be interested in a fairly cumbersome, upper body cooling system, the company is also releasing a hard hat fan, which is attached to a polyester neck cover. As opposed to the cooling jackets, the hard hat fan will be powered by a Nickel Hydride battery pack, which you can clip to your belt. It’s not cordless, either, which is probably better on your neck, but leaves you to deal with a cord wrapped around your body.
What do you think? Would you use a cooling jacket on your job site?