Glen Golding, Managing Director of Prefect Controls is ‘delighted’ that HobSensus, has been declared winner of the Safety Innovation Award 2023 at an annual safety conference.

Electrical Safety First, the campaigning organisation, aims to reduce death and injury caused by electricity. Recognised by Government and industry as the leading authority on electrical safety, ESF works with manufacturers, retailers, and consumer safety organisations to improve safety regulations and standards.

The Safety Innovation Award, in its 7th year, recognises excellence of product safety initiatives within the industry.

The HobSensus idea was born out of a long-established relationship that Prefect has enjoyed with providers of student accommodation, since 1997. Prefect products control space, and water heating in student rooms, ensuring energy cannot be used unnecessarily.

But several customers discussed with Glen, another issue they had, regarding incidents in student kitchens – cooking appliances being left unattended causing alarms to trigger and worse still, fires.

Glen knew that with his experience of control systems, he could help. But first he wanted to know the size of the problem.

Research figures from 2012-17 revealed that:

  • 1 in 7 (300,000) students admitted to falling asleep while cooking.
  • 56% confided that they had cooked while drunk.
  • 911 accidental fires took place in student halls,
    – 80% of these were in kitchens.
    – 60% of those at night.

Armed with this insight and an eagerness to solve the problem, development work began on a safety device that would turn hobs off when left unattended.

It was clear that the device needed an integrated timer. But, to add another level of safety and to watch for dangerous temperatures on the cooking surface, a heat sensor was also required. HobSensus uses a 64-zone sensor which reads temperatures across the hob, identifying hot spots with pinpoint accuracy. This enables the unit to react before flashpoints are reached.

It is this combination of timer and sensor that covers all eventualities. Users simply press the red button to activate the unit and start the timer, when the time elapses, the hob is switched off. However, if the temperature on the hob approaches 280°C the unit begins to flash amber and emit an audible alarm. If no action is taken the lights turn red, and the beeps intensify. The power is then cut.

“Recognition by way of this award from such an authority as Electrical Safety First is testament to the logic, design, and functionality found in HobSensus”.

As Glen explains, “Whatever the situation, the hob cannot accidently be left switched on. It will turn off if forgotten about. Or it will turn off because dangerous temperatures are being approached. Kitchens are safer with HobSensus on the wall”

The more ‘challenging’ environments of student accommodation prompted a robust engineering and manufacturing response. It had to be tamper-proof. Interference with the unit is counterproductive as the software and programming ensure the hob simply won’t operate.

Prototyping, Intensive testing and development of additional features were carried out amid the challenges of the pandemic, world shortage of components, and container ships becoming stuck in the Suez Canal!

Then finally, 2021 saw the installation of the first HobSensus units. Buoyed by the success of HobSensus in the real world, Glen continues, “Although initially designed for student kitchens, HobSensus should now be a safety consideration in any kitchen; In domestic situations, particularly for the peace of mind of people caring for those living with dementia; in retirement, care, or assisted living homes; and multi-user facilities such as hostels or holiday parks.”

He concludes, “Recognition by way of this award from such an authority as Electrical Safety First is testament to the logic, design, and functionality found in HobSensus”.

The judging panel’s comments on HobSensus were:
• HobSensus is tested and approved to BS EN50615 Category B
• It is affordable and able to be retrofitted to existing installations
• It can be integrated to other fire systems and controlled centrally via IRUS
• It can identify patterns of risk in suites of accommodation
• HobSensus is targeted to higher risk installations such as student accommodation
• It is robust and tamperproof.

To find out more about Electrical Safety First and the Awards click here.

Adrian Barber, Marketing Manager – Prefect Controls, receiving the Safety Innovation Award from Maarten van der Dussen, Managing Director – ProductIP with Katie Prescott Technology Business Editor – The Times