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Things That Need Inventing
By George Porter
It has been said that, "necessity is the mother of invention."
This has applied to this industry since it began but it seems
to be centered on how to get the work done that we have to do.
For instance, rolling and jacking systems and six way hitches
on trucks. These tools are a great help to the installer. One
could probably argue that there is also a benefit to the consumer
here somewhere because these things save time and expense and
are easier on the structure of the house. The customer benefits
in the long run. The people who invented these tools have profited
from them, and rightly so, but if you really want to do well in
the invention business you need to develop something the homeowner
wants and needs. There are many more homeowners than installers
and the market is a lot bigger, perhaps as much as a thousand
times bigger. This is where the gold is buried and, as a late
Christmas present, here is the first in a series of articles as
to where to start digging. If any of these make you a multi-millionaire,
a simple thank you card will do.
The first step in inventing something is to find a problem
to solve. It should be a problem that intrudes on people's lives
everyday and causes them discomfort and preferably causes them
to loose money. Find something that does all these things, figure
out how to fix it, and you will owe me a card.
Usually the problems that you find will not be something obvious.
The big obvious things have been done a long time ago. They probably
stopped progress or were something that had to be fixed before
the next step could be taken. Nobody knows who invented the bridge
or the wheel but a lot of folks have improved upon both of them
over the centuries.
This first idea involves some sort of air conditioning system.
The problem is that along the gulf coast and the south east in
general, humidity and heat are a problem. Every one there has
an air conditioner and because of the heat it has to be a pretty
good size one. It simply takes some big machinery to keep a home
cool when the outside temperature and humidity are 100+. You folks
out west don't have the humidity problem like this area does.
While you may be familiar with the heat you can not possibly imagine
how that same heat feels with extreme humidity. People die from
it all the time and the electric bill for the AC can get large.
A further problem is that a unit big enough to cool the place
when the heat is really up, may not be able to dehumidify the
home when it is not so hot. The result is that when the outside
air is around 90 degrees you certainly want to run the AC but
it doesn't run long enough to pull the moisture out of the air
and you usually get a damp cold. Our tightly built wooden home
is very prone to condensation under these conditions and it rots.
Well, do we have all the ingredients yet? People need AC and
in order for it to work it will sometimes cause the home to rot
or at least to suffer the ravages of moisture, such as warping
and sagging. This regional climate has been around forever but
in 1994 the new HUD thermal code made the homes very tight and
it has made our problem a lot worse. What to do about it is the
question. If you just put in a smaller AC then you solve the humidity
problem because it will run longer but it won't handle the load
when it gets really hot outside.
Here's the solution and it has two parts.
1. Invent a two or three speed, or stage, air conditioner.
It would operate like a big unit when it got hot and it would
drop back when the outside temperature was lower. It should also
be able to run very slowly and act as a de-humidifier after the
thermostat was satisfied. The result would be a cool dry home
but only where the people lived, what about rest of the structure?
2. Pressurize the envelope. (envelope is an engineering word
for house) I have been told by engineers that currently the Hud
Code does not allow you to do this. What we are talking about
here is the use of a very small fan pulling outside air into the
home and forcing the dry inside air out through the rest of the
structure. This would include the walls, floors, and roof areas.
This is not like the pressurizing in an airplane, it is a very
small force and virtually undetectable except by the use of special
instruments. It doesn't take much but, without positive pressure,
the moisture is always trying to get in the home instead of sort
of being pushed out.
Getting this adjustment to the code is not as hard as you might
think. If a manufacturer were to thoroughly document the need
and that this solution will work, then it may require no more
than a DAPIA stamp to make it so. We do have a performance based
code and changes such as this are made all the time.
Good luck, and one other thing, someone will make this work;
it might as well be you. This area represents over 50 % of the
Manufactured Homes in the US. I am sure it would be worth your