How Do Sodas in Outdoor Vending Machines Not Freeze in Winter?

Vending machines of some form or another havebeen around at least since the 1st century AD, with the first known of such being supposedlymade by Hero of Alexandria, a Greek engineer who invented, among many other remarkablemachines, one to automatically dispense holy water.

(Though it should be noted that many historiansthink it likely that at least some of Hero's machines were probably invented by othersbefore and simply documented by Hero.

) Whatever the case on this one, as describedin The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria, If into certain sacrificial vessels a coinof five drachms be thrown.

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When the coin is thrown through the mouth.

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, it will fall upon the plate.

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and, preponderating, it will turn the beam.

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, and raise the lid.

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so that the water will flow: but if the coin falls off; the lid will descend and closethe box so that the discharge ceases.

Thus, in a nutshell, you deposit a coin ofsufficient weight, it drops onto the plate.

This causes the plate to tilt down, openinga valve, which in turn allows the holy water to flow.

Soon the plate will tilt enough that the coinfalls off, at which point a counter-weight pulls up said plate.

When it reaches its top position, the connectedvalve is shut.

Of course, this machine had no mechanism forcontinuing to work properly if the holy water froze.

Clearly Hero was smart not to quit his dayjob as a teacher.

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Moving swiftly on to relatively modern times, vending machines of a variety of types began popping up more and more over the centuries, with an explosion in popularity occurring during the 19th century.

For example, by the 1890s the German chocolatemaker Stollwerck was operating a network of close to 15, 000 vending machines that dispensedtheir chocolate.

Around the early 20th century, selling beveragesin vending machines became just as ubiquitous, though not storing bottled drinks at first, instead simply dispensing water and the like from some form of fountain.

Notably here many of these early fountainsdid not provide cups, other than a single common container.

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Naturally, this metal can shared by everyonewho used a drinking fountain, whether of the vending machine variety or free for publicuse, was eventually deemed less than sanitary.

So much so that laws were passed in some regionsbanning them.

In attempting to find a solution to the problem, lawyer Lawrence Luellen envisioned disposable paper cups that could be dispensed for a penny(about 29 cents today) via a specially designed vending machine.

And so it was that the American Water SupplyCompany of New England was founded in 1908, eventually becoming the more familiar soundingDixie Cup Company.

Beyond just dispensing disposable cups, onedesign, the “Luellen Cup & Water Vendor” also contained a large jug with water, a largeice container to keep the water cold, and a garbage can to put the cups in after use.

Much like Hero's and the other beverage drinkingmachines up to then, this one had no means of keeping the liquid from freezing either.

This finally brings us to slightly more moderntimes.

Ubiquitous today, with Japan having the highestnumber of vending machines per capita at just under 6 million (or about 1 vending machinefor every 22 people), one of the most popular vending machines is the kind that dispenseslife giving water-based product.

For some odd reason, many of these are placedin that eerie region that exists outside of our mother's basements known as “out of doors”.

This area, which exists in a region that hasno solid barriers between you and the never ending void of space, occasionally gets cold(we're told), despite the silent glowing orb in the sky watching, judging, showering usin ionizing radiation in its efforts to destroy us all! While you might think surely these modernoutdoor units which exist in such a deadly environment must have some sort of dedicatedheating mechanism inside, it turns out this isn't always the case, even in relativelyfrigid areas.

To be clear here, the varieties of designsof vending machines out there are immense.

But, it turns out that the tiny bit of heatgiven off by the internal evaporator fan and circuitry is, in many climates, sufficientto keep any drinks inside from freezing.

You see, in order to be as energy efficientas possible, bottled beverage machines are extremely well insulated and sealed.

In fact, in some modern peak shift vendingmachines, they primarily cool the internal beverages at night when electricity is cheapest, bringing the liquid as close to freezing as possible without turning their innards solid, and then just let the insulation do the rest during most of the day time.

Coca-Cola reports their machines using thisdesign on average use only about 5% of the daytime energy usage as more typical machines.

Beyond insulation, the sugary or diet drinksgenerally found inside have much lower freezing points than pure water.

These two things combine to make it so activeheating is not really needed in many regions.

As one vending machine stocker in Kansas, which for reference sees average lows in its coldest month of January at around 20 degreesFreedom or -7 degrees Celsius, notes, “[In] 30 years I have only seen 1 freeze up.

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Theevaporator fan motor will provide enough heat to keep it from freezing.

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provided everythingelse is sealed up good.

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” That said, some regions get colder and requiremore than just passive heating.

The most common mechanism for dedicated heatingis simply wiring in an incandescent light bulb socket and screwing a 40 or 60 watt bulbin.

This is then automatically switched on whentemperatures drop below a set level.

As for the location of the bulb, it is usuallyplaced near the top of the innards to ensure the drinks below, which are dispensed firstin many designs, stay as cold as possible away from the heat source.

For those wishing for an alternate solution, some machine designs use heat pump systems capable of reversing and heating the inside.

Beyond allowing these units to function wellin even some of the coldest of populated regions, these systems are also among the most energyefficient at cooling as well.

But to sum up, thanks to being well insulatedand the lower freezing points of many of the liquids contained therein, the heat givenoff by the internal components in vending machines is usually sufficient to keep thingsfrom freezing.

Where not sufficient, a simple incandescentlight bulb relatively cheaply solves the problem in even some of the coldest populated regionsof our little planet sized space ship.

Bonus Facts:• Among the astounding number of other devices created by Hero includes essentially the ancientequivalent of a modern door chime, but instead of using a bell or the like, Hero used a trumpet.

This system was apparently installed on templedoors.

In a nutshell on this one, when the doorswere opened, it caused a vessel to descend into water in a container, thereby creatinga bit of water pressure which in turn forced air through a trumpet, causing it to singthe song of its people.

When the door was then closed, it draws thevessel back up, as well as air back into the trumpet and device in reverse, ready to blowagain when the next person opens the door.

I'm sure this never annoyed any meditatingpriests.

• Fun fact, many modern network controlledCoca-Cola vending machines are able to be enabled for dispensing their contents forfree at the push of a remote button.

Coca-Cola occasionally uses this feature intimes of emergency as a form of disaster relief, notably used in this way during the 2011 Tōhokuearthquake and tsunami.

Some designs of these machines even includethings like solar power and batteries or generators to continue functioning for a time in caseof power outage.

As you might imagine given their added cost, most of these so-called “disaster relief vending machines” are only installed in places likehospitals, schools, and a variety of such places where people tend to congregate duringextreme disasters.

So downside- tsunami.

Upside- free drinks! • Speaking of incandescent lightbulbs beingdecent little heat sources (using about 95% of the power they consume for heat, ratherthan light), one company in Germany attempted to use this fact to get around certain governmentregulations.

You see, given newer, more efficient optionsbecame commercially available for lighting, such as CFL and LED lights, governments beganinstituting regulations, first limiting and ultimately banning the sale of incandescentbulbs in various regions.

For example, in the United States, the phase-outbegan in 2012, while in the European Union, it began in 2009.

In order to get around therules and regulations here a couple of entrepreneurs began marketing old-fashioned light bulbsas a useful and convenient alternative heat source which they dubbed the “heatball”.

The brainchild of German engineers SiegfriedRotthäuser and Rudolf Hannot, the heatball was sold across Europe, and its marketingtouted its convenience, since the heatball would, to quote, “fit into any conventionalsocket” made for light bulbs.

At the cost of just €1.

69 (~$1.

86) per bulb, the heatball sold like hotcakes – when the first lot of 4, 000 was made available in April2010, it sold out in just three days, with a back order catalogue of over 40, 000 unitsupon its debut.

As you might imagine, EU officials soon steppedin, seizing a second shipment at the airport in Cologne, France in November 2010.

At the subsequent administrative hearing inAachen, Germany challenging the seizure, Rotthäuser and Hannot appeared with a mobile heatingdevice that primarily comprised of a ribbed metal plate and battery connected by wiresto 100-watt light bulbs that heated the metal.

The administrative judges remained unconvincedof the bulb's efficacy as an alternative heat source, and they banned the further sale ofthese newfangled heatballs.

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