HVAC Insider 2018 Inventor of the Year: Allen Coggins, Thermasi Furnace
As we all know electric furnaces have not changed much in the last 100 years from the “toaster with a blower on them.” Creating a furnace powered by electricity to be more efficient and more comfortable than traditional electric furnaces has been a goal for many HVAC companies since the first electric furnace was created. Allen Coggins, HVAC professional and inventor of the Thermasi furnace, has accomplished just that.
It was a cold winter many years ago when Coggins, who is a serial entrepreneur and lifelong inventor, created a new type of furnace that would later become the Thermasi Furnace. Coggins and his wife were looking at another large heating bill and supplementing their inefficient furnace with space heaters to try to even out the cold spots in their home. Their children would take turns getting dressed in the mornings in front of a faux fireplace heater. In front of this same faux fireplace is where they could always find the family dog Macy, a short haired chihuahua who was always shivering. Coggins knew that there had to be a better way to heat using electricity than using “an expensive cold electric furnace” as his wife calls it.
While working one day Coggins stumbled across what would become the spark and eventually the heart of his Thermasi furnace; an infrared heater. Coggins was enamored by the comfort of this type of heat and when he started researching the energy usage, he knew he had to harness this technology to create a better heater. This started the creation of many prototypes, some more successful than others. Coggins will smile and tell you that he knew he had finally got his new furnace correct when his children were able to get ready in their own rooms on cold winter mornings instead of in front of the faux fireplace heater, and the ultimate tell tale was when their chihuahua finally stopped shivering all the time.
Fast forward several years to the 2018 commercial birth of the Thermasi Furnace Coggins invented, which uses special design features, programming, and thermal mass to use up to 41% less energy to create heat with an electric source, all the while achieving gas heating temperatures. This accomplishment was independently verified through vigorous testing by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). UL also certified the Thermasi Furnace for safety. Coggins will be the first to tell you that the Thermasi furnace is not “just a furnace,” it is a smart furnace that currently offers comfortable Customizable Efficiency.
The goal of Thermasi is to be one of the first furnaces that will allow the customer to upgrade the system with a programming change instead of requiring costly equipment changes. The programming changes will be based on the individual usage and envelope of each home.
In addition to the upgradability of the Thermasi furnace, a personal goal of Coggins is to put one of his Thermasi furnaces in space. He has reached out to NASA about testing his furnace to see how the decreased energy consumption and higher temperature heat would work for the upcoming Mars or Moon expeditions. Coggins has a version of his furnace that runs off alternative energies such as solar and wind that would potentially be a fit.
Coggins started his HVAC journey right after high school at a trade school learning to troubleshoot, build duct, and install HVAC systems. He then went on to join the Sheet Metal Workers Union local 36 as an apprentice in the service side of the union. He has a passion for learning and was not satisfied with only knowing “half” of the HVAC business, so he went on to complete not only the service apprenticeship but to also complete the sheet metal apprenticeship.
Coggins holds both Journeyman cards in Service and Sheet Metal. (He was one of only four in the history of the local to do this at the time.) Being a ferocious learner and not being satisfied with just knowing service and sheet metal/installations Coggins decided to learn TAB (Testing and Balancing) as well. It was after he worked in all three aspects that he really gained appreciation for how the hearts of our homes and buildings work.
Coggins has many inventions in his portfolio, the most notable commercial one (besides Thermasi) is our nation’s first hybrid LED street light using wind and solar as a power source. The first prototype of his street light was installed in 2007 to light up the Police Memorial in Arnold Missouri. That light has never had a dark night since being installed.
Commercializing the Thermasi Furnace is not the only focus the Thermasi Company has, Coggins and his wife, Jennifer, also have philanthropic hearts. They volunteer their time and efforts and encourage their employees to do the same through Thermasi’s Heating with a Heart program. This program was established to give back to the community via a service project each month. Additionally, Coggins is a Shriner and serves as Captain of the Mounted Lancers. The Mounted Lancers are goodwill ambassadors for Shriners Hospitals, and can be seen riding their horses in the major parades around St. Louis.
To find out more about Allen Coggins and Thermasi check them out at www.thermasi.com, and on social media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.