Fans are the original tools created by humans to move air. Think of those epic movies with Egyptian pharaohs being cooled by giant palm leaves waved over their heads. While fans have come a long way since the pharaohs – palm leaves are out, blades and electric motors are in – fans still play a critical role in keeping us comfortable as major components of our cooling, ventilating and heating systems. Fans are also integral to the refrigeration and freezer systems that keep our food fresh.
But all that good work comes at a cost. According to a U.S. Department of Energy study, fans and other motor-driven components used in commercial HVAC systems and refrigeration are among the highest energy consumers in that sector – together accounting for 93% of its motor-driven energy. It stands to reason, then, that business owners can significantly reduce their energy costs by making sure that fan motors in their HVAC and refrigeration equipment are properly sized and operating at peak efficiency.
Here are some things that business owners should know about their fan motors:
- Size Matters: Fans that are oversized for their particular application don’t operate at their best efficiency. Oversized fans generate excess flow energy, resulting in higher noise levels and increased stress on both the fan and the system. The right sized fan will cost less to buy and operate, while avoiding potential problems with system performance.
- Install Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs): Also known as Adjustable Speed Drives, VFDs control the speed of the fan so that it only runs as fast as it has to. VFDs save energy by reducing the speed of a fan – and the power needed to run it – when the desired temperature has been reached. VFDs not only save energy (up to 50% in some cases) but extend the life of the equipment because they prevent fans from running constantly at full speed.
- Put a Notch in Your Belt: We’re not talking about Old West gunslingers counting their victims – we’re suggesting that replacing solid V-belts with notched V-belts can save energy in fans because the grooves in a notched belt reduce slippage and lower the bending resistance of the belt. Notched belts also run cooler and last longer than their solid counterparts, helping to reduce maintenance costs.
- Understand the Fan Energy Index (FEI): The FEI is a metric that can be used to compare the energy efficiency of fans according to their size, speed and power. Standards associated with FEI are replacing standards associated with the older Fan Efficiency Grade, or FEG, in many states (it’s been proposed for California’s Title 20 appliance efficiency regulations and Title 24 state energy code).
Fans have historically been – and will likely continue to be – the world’s primary means of moving air. But the remarkably simple principle of spinning blades to create airflow can get complicated when it comes to choosing the right fan motor and control system for the task at hand. Whether it’s fan motors for your business’ HVAC system, refrigeration units or any other piece of motorized equipment, the energy efficiency experts at Ecology Action can help you make the right choices. Contact them today…and you’ll become a fan yourself!