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Inventing the Metlund DíMAND system Ė An Invention Success Story
The Metlund DíMAND system, how it was invented, developed, and marketed.
Back in the late 1980ís my partner Dennis Metzger and myself (William Lund), were marketing an energy saving device for water heaters. We attended trade shows trying to market our energy saving device. The device, a Hot Water Recovery System could save homeowners a large percentage of their water heating bill.
We called our company Metlund Enterprises, which came from a combination of Metzger and Lund, our last names.
Save me time, not energy.
We found that people were just not interested in saving energy at the time. The most often question asked of us was; does it get my hot water faster? We found that most of the people we talked to wanted faster hot water.
The Metlund hot water demand system is conceived.
Later Dennis and I were driving to a PUC meeting in San Francisco from our office in Stockton, California. It was on that drive that I had my epiphanyÖthere was a way to get people their hot water faster! Why not pump it to them at high speed and shut the pump off when the hot water arrived at the fixture? That was the moment of conception for the Metlund DíMAND system!
As soon as we got back Dennis and I began developing the idea. At first we thought a return line would be needed as with hot water circulating systems, but we soon realized that we could use the cold water line as the return as long as we shut the pump off quickly enough.
We further found that since it takes time for heat to transfer from the water to the temperature sensing device and it takes time for the device to respond, sensing a final temperature always ended up with hot water in the cold water pipe. But by shutting the pump off when a temperature increase was detected, we could shut the pump off without getting hot water in the cold pipes, and the hot water would be 2 or 3 seconds away.
We ended up using a Taco Inc, hot water circulating pump, an electric water valve in series with the pump, and an electronic circuit to control the pump and the valve. A temperature sensor also was strapped to the hot water pipe for sensing the temperature. The Metlund demand system still uses a Taco pump and an electric valve to this day.
With this arrangement we could pump the water quickly to the fixture, and no water would be run down the drain. It was a great product, if a bit expensive. Circulating pumps and motorized ball valves are not cheap.
Our company was a tiny little two man operation. Needless to say marketing a new product with no money is difficult. We ended up licensing it to ACT, assigning the patents to ACT, and giving them the name Metlund.
The product is now known as ACT Metlund D'MAND system. Dennis and I are no longer affiliated with the company. Here is an article where I compare the two systems: Metlund VS. Chilipepper
It was one of those cases where the two naÔve inventors meet the new companyís lawyers and the next thing we know we are out on our behinds with nothing to show for itÖbut thatís another story.
The Chilipepper hot water demand system comes to life.
A few years later we decided to take another look at the problem addressed by the original Metlund Dímand system. Metlund hadnít improved the system in years, and still hasnít.
After taking a fresh look at the problem we came up with some pretty good new ideas, and we decided we would call our new pump the Chilipepper!
Instead of using a hot water circulating pump which has very little power, we decided to build our own pump from scratch, and design it specifically for the application. We used modern injection molding technology and used a far more powerful motor.
The result was a dramatically reduced retail price, size, and weight and a significant improvement in performance. Since we had a much more powerful pump we could hook the pump up with hoses instead of having to use full Ĺ piping connections as with the original system. This makes it far easier to install under a sink.
We feel we are doing our part in bringing water conservation to the masses, even though most people who purchase hot water demand systems such as the Chilipepper CP2011 or the Metlund DíMAND system are doing so for the convenience of faster hot water. We know they are really practicing water conservation, and we feel good about that.
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