Stone countertops are a hot kitchen remodeling choice, but until now they left me cold. During our Minnesota winters, granite feels downright chilly. Unless I am wearing a thick sweater, I don’t need a manners reminder to keep my elbows off of the neighbor’s kitchen island when I stop by for coffee.
Recognizing this problem, a new Lakeville, MN, company called Heated Stone Products has introduced a revolutionary, patent-pending product called FeelsWarm. Its thin (.035 in.) flexible heating elements can be embedded in granite or quartz countertops during fabrication or mounted to the underneath surface after installation. The low-voltage panels are designed to fit any shape, and they are available in several standard rectangular sizes. The panels warm the stone surface to 25 degrees higher than the air temperature in about 90 minutes and maintain that temperature without cycling on or off. The 12-volt DC transformer that powers the heating element draws 3 to 6 amps and plugs into a 110-volt receptacle typically mounted inside a cabinet. It can also be fitted with a timer and a switch. Inventor and Heated Stone Products owner Jahn Stopperan said he chose low voltage for installation ease, safety and to ensure there would not be any interference with wireless communication devices through EMI emission from 120-volt systems.
FeelsWarm costs about $100 a square foot, but you only need enough to warm the area where your arms rest while sitting at a countertop. A 3-1/2-sq.-ft. panel consumes about as much electricity as a 30-watt light bulb, so even if the heater operates continuously it should not cost more than 10 cents a day.
Heated Stone Products has designated Granite-Tops of Cold Spring, MN, as its exclusive integrator for Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Western Wisconsin, and it is establishing its dealer network of countertop installers around the country. The stone counter fabricator helped to develop the patent-pending process for embedding the panels. The company designs the panel shape and placement in a CAD program and uses a CNC machine to rout a recess in the bottom of the stone to accept the flexible heater. Then it applies an opaque filler so the heating element is hidden and protected and the surface is smooth and flush. This embedded approach is for new counters and is especially appealing where countertops overhang cabinets.
The retrofit heating panels for attaching underneath existing countertops feature a tough polymer surface that protects the elements. They are installed with a high-performance, pressure-sensitive adhesive after the stone surface is prepared. These stick-on heaters are available through authorized dealers, starting with Granite-Tops, and can be shipped anywhere.
The flexible heating element industry usually focuses on designing and producing many units of a particular size and shape of heating panel to spread out the tooling costs. Stopperan’s game-changing approach enables him to make larger, custom-shaped heating circuits to counter fabricators specs without tooling, which speeds production and reduces costs dramatically.
To learn more, visit feelswarm.com. For a quote on a granite countertop with an embedded heater in Minnesota, Wisconsin or the Dakotas, visit granite-tops.com. For inquires outside of the Upper Midwest, contact Heated Stone Products via the FeelsWarm Web site.