Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chairlift with heated seats?

Last year, Canyons, one of our Park City ski resorts came up with a new chairlift offering heated seats. The innovation was premiered in 2004 and has since been installed on a dozen Doppelmayr chairlifts. The system is offered on new lifts, but is also available as a retrofit package.

The heating element is integrated into the horizontal seating area of the chair and works similarly as heated car seat. As the chair reaches the lower station, electric current flows from the power rail to collectors on the grip before reaching the seat where it activates the heating mats in the seat padding.

An energy of 520 W is required for heating each seat through a 48 V power supply. Heating lasts for about 16 second, ends when the chair leaves the station and is enough to keep it warm all the way up to the top. The heating system is deactivated when the outside temperature rises above 50 F10 °C.

So the question is, is the extra expense worth the added benefit? Probably not in my opinion, especially if the convenience is only available on one single lift. A complete fleet would make more marketing sense to a resort that wants to literally pamper its clientele. The feeling is pleasing, but if I need to stay warm at all cost, I won't go skiing, I'll stay indoors instead!

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