A new heat meter, Multical 302, designed for individual energy metering in blocks of flats, has been awarded with the prestigious iF Product Design Award 2014 for its design that “impressed the jury consisting of experts and renowned designers from all over the world.”
The heat meter has been carefully designed to meet the most important needs for the people who are actually working with and using heat meters. It was conceived for small apartments where space is rare.
Limited space in heating installations makes mounting and reading of heat meters a notorious challenge. In the design, emphasis has therefore been placed on ensuring the best working conditions for installers and meter readers. The result is a meter with a circular profile.
The industrial designer, Lars Kjærulff, who was commissioned by the meter manufacturer Kamstrup to design the heat meter according to best usability practice, was faced with the challenge that the meter had to fit into a shallow meter cabinet, which is usually no more than 100 mm deep.
“Basing the design on the circular profile with a radius of just 59 mm allows it not only to fit into the cabinet, but even to be rotated into the optimum viewing angle without hindering the door,” Kjærulff says.
With a flat shaped meter it’s not possible to close the door if the meter is mounted just a little bit askew – a very commonly occurring problem when working with a pipe wrench. And given the possibility of turning the LCD into the desired viewing angle the meter can be installed near the floor or just below the ceiling as is often the case in the Middle East and in East Asia. The round profile solves more problems at once.
At the same time the Multical 302 solves a logistic problem. Normally heat meters are configured for either inlet or outlet position from the factory, but the new heat meter can be configured directly on site of the installation. Product group manager, Søren Lang explains, “The installer doesn’t always know if the meter he is going to exchange is placed in the water inlet or in the water outlet position, therefore we have included this option in the on-site configuration among other parameters.” The installer needs from now on only to bring one kind of meter, and the wholesaler needs only one type of meter in stock, which is a logistic improvement as it gives the wholesaler flexibility in the planning. The on-site configurability of inlet and outlet is a patented world novelty.
The whole design is about complexity reduction. This is where the designer comes in. Kjærulff says, “An electronic heat meter is a very complex product. Many hours of engineering and a lot of knowledge has been put into the product, my task was to turn the complexity into a simple to grasp and easy to use product. The usability must be designed on the surface, where the human interface is.”
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