Vapotec  is a steam sensor which automatically turns your bathroom exhaust fan on when it senses steam. When all steam is cleared from the room, Vapotec then automatically turns your fan off after a few minutes.

About the inventor:

Morris Hinch is an electrical engineer. He started his career in the electrics industry as an Electronics Technician and went on to graduate from NSW University as an Electrical Engineer. He loves walking along the coastline from Bronte to Bondi Beach and keeping fit.


The inspiration for the Vapotec came when Morris was designing his first home 15 years ago. Morris forgot to specify an exhaust fan for the bathroom in the plans and within a few months of the bathroom being in use the steam had caused the paint to peel off the walls and the ceiling.

Morris set about installing a fan but was put off the idea when he realised how much work was involved in running new wires down through the wall noggins to a wall switch. This motivated him to make a device that could be installed in the ceiling and connect directly to the mains and fan in the roof cavity, making the wall switch unnecessary.

How it works:

Vapotec is a steam sensor, which acts as an automatic switch for the exhaust fan in bathrooms. The Vapotec fits to just about all existing fans. The only fans that the Vapotec does not suit are boat and caravan fans that run on 12 volt DC.

The sensor housing has a red light, which turns on to indicate that the sensor and fan are in operation. The actual sensor sits inside the white plastic housing. The sensor housing sits against the ceiling of the bathroom and is exposed to the interior of the bathroom or enclosure.

The sensor surface has 2 interdigitated electrical tracks that are spaced closely. When water or moisture strikes the surface of the sensor the water acts as an electrical conductor bridging the space between the electrical tracks and allowing a small amount of current to flow.

This small amount of current is monitored by an integrated circuit gate. The output of the gate is switchable between two states, high current flow and low current flow. When the current is detected by the gate it switches from a low state to a high state.

The high state generates enough current to turn on the triac, which acts as an electronic switch to turn on the fan. Once the steam has ceased the fan continues for a couple of minutes before stopping.