Stay warm all winter with this heated furniture hack.

One of the best things about nights at home during winter in Japan is being able to stay warm under a kotatsu, a low table with a heater attached to the underside. However, these days a lot of day-to-day activities in Japanese homes revolve around much higher tables, including western-style dining tables and study desks, and while these are great for ergonomics, one problem becomes apparent when winter rolls around: it’s much colder to sit at them.

This lack of heating at modern tables has led Japanese furniture and home accessories retail chain Nitori to come up with a creative solution called the “Adhesive Magnet Heater”. The concept behind the new product is simple — it can be stuck to the underside of tabletops to replicate the toasty feeling of a kotatsu

▼ According to the box it comes in, the heater provides “simple heat just by sticking it on”. 

Our Japanese-language reporter Egawa Tasuku had heard good things about the heater, which has been causing a buzz online, so he purchased one of the heaters via the company’s website to test it out. When it arrived, Egawa found it was a compact and slimline heating device, measuring 20 centimetres (7.8 inches) by 33 centimetres.

▼ With an output of 21 watts, one hour of usage — at 27 yen per 1 kilowatt hour — is said to cost approximately 0.6 yen (US$0.006).

As the product name and advertising image suggests, the heater is designed to be stuck onto the underside of a table, and it can be used on metal, glass, or wood surfaces. The box contains: the heater itself; a set of instructions; strong double-sided 3M tape, for use with glass surfaces; a metal backplate with magnets for use on metal surfaces; and screws and attachments, for wooden surfaces.

Egawa’s desk was made of wood but he didn’t want to screw through it, so he took a risk and went for the double-sided tape option instead.

▼ He was happy to find it adhered easily to the underside of the desk, and didn’t feel like it was going to fall of at all.

When he sat on his desk chair, the distance from the heating element to his knees was roughly 18 centimetres.

To operate the heater, all you have to do is press the power button on the right and then use the button on the left to select whether you want it to run for one, two or three hours. The fact that it limits the time it can be used is a great safety — and power-saving — feature, and because it heats with far-infrared rays, there are no fans and no sound, so it’s really quiet to use.

After turning the power on, the device gradually heated up, and Egawa tapped the heater with his hand (don’t try this at home!) to see just how hot it was. It felt hot, but it didn’t burn his hand, which is actually a good thing as you wouldn’t want to burn your thighs if they accidentally brushed by the heater.

However, Egawa kind of wanted it to generate a little more heat, because his toes and ankles weren’t able to really warm up with the 21-watt heater. This could’ve been partly due to the fact that the room Egawa was sitting in wasn’t exactly warm — it was about 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) — and the table he was sitting at didn’t have a heavy blanket around it like a traditional kotatsu, which is the real key to keeping the warmth in.

And maybe that’s the reason why this this Nitori heater costs just 4,990 yen (US$47.70), while this high-legged kotatsu (with blanket) costs 25,800 yen (US246.60).

Given the huge price difference, the Nitori heater is a great alternative to buying an expensive kotatsu, and Egawa now has plans to cover his desk with a blanket and add a separate tabletop on top, just like a traditional kotatsu…so he can trap the heat in and stay nice and warm indoors when he’s not outdoors investigating weirdly shaped supermarkets.

Related: Nitori
Photos © SoraNews24
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