Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Simpang New Town

Looks like URA is finally going forward with the plans for Simpang New Town which was put on hold till Punggol New Town is fully developed. Since plans for Punggol have already been announced, Simpang development can finally start.

The area between Sembawang Road and Yishun Industrial Park A is already cordoned off to make way for upcoming HDB BTO projects. It remains to be seen whether HDB will group this BTO as part of Simpang or Sembawang.

Those who are planning to apply for new BTO in either Sembawang and Yishun can consider waiting till the next HDB sales launch as the November 2012 sales launch do not include this Simpang BTO in the list. One good reason is because a new MRT station between the current Yishun and Sembawang stations will be built. This will be the missing N12 in the current MRT stations map.

The location of the station will most likely be where Canberra Link, Yishun Ave 2 and Sungai Simpang Kiri intersect, right in front of the upcoming BTO, as that is the equal distance between NS11 and NS13 stations. 

Those staying along Yishun Ave 7 in condominiums like Yishun Sapphire, Yishun Emerald, Eight Couryards and One Canberra and HDB housing block 165 to 175 will also benefit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baby: Strollers - Mothercare Mino

We bought this stroller while we were in London in June. We went there thinking that we will not need a stroller for our 8 months baby boy. We sure was proven wrong.

Mothercare Singapore just recently brought this range in, so we were probably the only one here using it when we returned from the trip back in June this year.

Anyway, the main reason why we bought this was because it was reasonably priced, practical and met our needs. We do not want to spend too much on something we just need for a few days. We thought that we would use it just for the trip and sell it when we got back. In the end, we kept it and it became our favorite stroller (as compared to our Hauck Turbo and Capella Harmony).

As far as weight is concerned, this stroller is very light at 6.9 kg. Cannot get any lighter than this. And even though it is light, it is stable as the CG is low due to the low position of the seat.

It is practically folded just like most umbrella fold stroller except it also folds in half length wise, making it very compact and very small when folded. Folding mechanism is actually easy but you need to get the hang of it. Locking the rear wheel first is kind of a must to make it all easier.

It comes with a 5 point harness which is easy to fix and fully adjustable to meet the growing needs of your child.

What I like the most about this stroller is that the handle height is perfect for me who is 1.7 m tall and the rest of my family members who are shorter than me. Our experience with other strollers is that we often kick the rear wheels. None of that with the Mino.

The seat comes with a fully adjustable reclining mechanism that allows you to set at any angle you want. Not my favorite as it can be cumbersome at times but many other brand/model, even those expensive ones, adopt a similar mechanism as well so I guess it all boils down to preference - between fixed number of positions or any angle you want.

The seat is made of plastic-like material that is easy to clean. May not look comfortable but our boy has no complaints.

As with other strollers, the calf rest can be adjusted down when you child grows taller; the hood covers only the top just like most umbrella fold strollers (but it does come with a raincover though I am not sure if local set comes with one too) and the back cover can be folded for better ventilation.

So on a nutshell

Very lightweight
Very compact when folded
Easy to maneuver
Handle height is just perfect
5 point harness
Considerably stable

Basket not accessible when seat is fully reclined.
Folding mechanism needs a lot of getting use to.
Seat recline mechanism can be hard to adjust.

Do we recommend it? Despite the setbacks, this is still recommended.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Renovation: Water Heaters

Getting heated water to your bathrooms nowadays is easy and affordable, depending on your needs and which method you choose. Most common method is by simply installing a POU (point of use) instant heater and you'll be showering in heated water in no time. However, a POU instant heater can only supply heated water to a specific area (for example the shower area) and you'll need one for each bathroom. If you need heated water from your sink, you'll need a centralised heater as a POU heater cannot perform this function (which will be explained later). You will also need the appropriate piping which can be costly, depending on the type of house you have and of course mixer taps (with hot/cold water inlets) Newer HDB flats where the wiring and piping are concealed already has the necessary piping taken care of. Same goes with most condominiums and landed properties. For older HDB flats however, there are no other options but to lay additional piping for heated water coming from the heater. Unless you are a plumber or have the necessary tools, you'll almost certainly need to call one to do the job. Once the necessary piping is available, all you need to do is to install a centralised heater and you'll have heated water in shower area and from the sink. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually more than one type of central heaters you can opt for. Most commonly used are the storage heaters where it is basically a heater with a tank to hold the heated water. The other type is a tankless instant heater that heats the water up as you use it. If you are wondering if the tankless instant heater is similar to the POU instant heater, you are not far off. The working concept is similar - which is to heat the water as water flows through it. However, you cannot use a POU instant heater as a central one because the POU heater is activated when water flows into the heater while the centralised one is activated when water flows out. That means you will need an on/off tap to supply cold water to the heater while it gets heated up and out from a hose etc. You cannot re route the heated water to another tap as then you will have to turn on two taps which will make it ridiculous So which is a better solution? To tank or not to tank? A storage heater is normally bulky, therefore can be unsightly and is also inefficient as it 1. heats the water up even when not in used to maintain the water temperature. This means you have to turn it on all the time or have it turned on for some time beforehand to allow it to heat the water up. Obviously the latter is not convenient. 2. heats up the whole tank regardless of the amount you actually plan to use. 3. can run out of heated water if the supply in the tank runs low as you are using it. Think of the electric thermos and you’ll get the idea. A tankless heater on the other hand is way smaller, therefore not that unsightly, and more efficient as it is turned on only when being used. This means, you can turn the main switch off when you are not using it and back on when you need to. If you think that it is inconvenient, then you just leave it on and it will only consume energy for the LED indicators which is negligible. There are two types of tankless instant heaters - one is electric and the other is powered by gas. You can install the electric tankless heaters almost anywhere you want but for one powered by gas, it can only be installed in an open area like the service yard. This effectively makes the gas heater not an option if it needs to be installed in the bathroom. Even if it can, having to lay gas piping into the bathroom can be costly and unsightly and even be impossible, due to the location of the gas pipe and the bathroom.

If your service yard adjoins to your bathroom (where the central piping inlet is located), then you can install a gas central heater in the service yard and extend the hot water pipe to bathroom. You have to drill a hole though so be careful that you do not damage any concealed piping as the cost to repair it will be astronomical. You have to also lay gas piping to the service yard. Check out City Gas for their range of gas heaters.

If your service yard is not adjoined to your bathroom, then an electric tankless heaters is your best bet. One such example is the Bennington C600. It is small and considered affordable at approximately $280. 

Take note that a tankless central heater is not a perfect solution and here's why. For one, it is not absolutely instant. Depending on the location of the heater and the length of piping it has to go through before it reaches the outlet, there will be a delay. However, this applies to any centralised heaters as well. So if you have never used a centralised heater before, this is expected. You will also see a drop in the water pressure. For most cases, this should not be an issue as no one uses boiling water in huge flow unless they want to scald themselves. So most likely, after mixing with cold water, the pressure should be just right, at a temperature most people use to shower or wash up. However, if it is an issue for you, it can be easily remedied by changing the shower heads or installing water saving devices onto the tap which will increase the pressure accordingly. Though it may be an inconvenience and even additional investments, the savings (both electricity and water) later on should make up for it. Whichever type of heaters you decide on, you may want to have heated waters in the kitchen or even the service yard since you already have a centralised heater. However, as far as I know, HDB flats with concealed piping do not extend to the kitchen and service yard. In this case you have, again, three ways to go about it. 1. You can extend and lay additional piping from your central water heater to the kitchen. This option saves you the cost of another heater but make sure that
- the piping works does not cost more than the heater 
- piping works are not unsightly. 2. Another way is to install another heater near the outlet to minimise any exposed piping. If you only need heated water for the kitchen sink, you can actually install it under the sink as show below

A storage heater is too big in this case therefore only tankless heater is possible. Since gas tankless heater cannot be installed in confined spaces like the cabinet under the sink, an electric tankless heater is the only option. In this case, the Bennington C600 will again be suitable. Though it will cost you another initial investment, this can be justified if: 1. Additional piping will cost just as much 2. Additional piping cannot be concealed and will look unsightly. However, do take note that you may need to lay a new wiring to support a higher ampere rating depending on the heater you choose. The Bennington C600 on a 13A socket can only run at mid power (3kW). It runs at a max of 4.5kW and requires a 20A socket. All the above options depends on the cost and aesthetic results. So below is a summary of all the available type of heaters

Heater typeHeatingComments
Point of use (normally called 'instant heater')ElectricalPros: Simple to fix without the need for expensive piping
Cons: Needs one for every outlet
Centralised Storage (normally called 'storage heaters)ElectricalPros: No drop in water pressure
Cons: Bulky, inefficient power usage and not on-demand.
Centralised Tankless (or called multipoint heaters')ElectricalPros: Small, efficient, available on-demand
Cons: Drop in water pressure
Centralised Tankless (normally called 'gas heaters')GasPros: Similar to its electrical cousin.
Cons: Similar to its electrical cousin. May need to connect to an electrical point for ignition. Can only be installed in a non confined space. Additional gas piping required.