Plant & Works Engineering
Reducing energy consumption – the big challenge!
Published:  03 January, 2017

Adrian Trevelyan, service manager at Airedale takes a look at five cost saving benefits of switching to EC fans in HVAC equipment.

For many businesses, a 20% reduction in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales (The Carbon Trust). However, reducing energy consumption in a building, on an ever decreasing budget, is one of the biggest challenges for facility and energy managers today.

It is in fact HVAC equipment, which accounts for the single largest proportion (39%) of energy consumption in a commercial building, owing to its use of numerous fan motors to move air throughout a building.

But you don’t need a complete retrofit or replacement of a system to reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs. Listed below are 5 benefits of why simply switching to EC (Electrically Commutated) fans in your HVAC units will improve efficiencies and cut costs.

1. Up to 70% potential energy saving

EC fans offer the same output as AC fans for less input. This is because they are more than 90% efficient in converting electrical input into air power. As a result, they consume up to 70% less energy, compared to AC technology.

It has been shown that payback periods can be as little as 12 months and that replacing just 4 AC fans can provide annual cost savings of £7000.

2. Variable speed control matched to load requirement

AC fans are designed to operate at a certain point on their performance curve which coincides with their peak efficiency. Either side of this operating point, the efficiency can drop off considerably. EC fans on the other hand have an almost flat efficiency curve, which varies relatively little across the speed range. This makes the EC fan able to adjust to the level of cooling needed at the time, thereby cutting down energy wastage from fans running faster than necessary.

3. Direct drive motors for maintenance free operation

EC fans are maintenance free for three key reasons. Firstly, EC technology uses electric current, to control the direction and speed of the motor. Traditional fan motors, on the other hand, typically rely on carbon brushes to commutate the motors and these have to be frequently changed as dust from the carbon brushes clogs up the filters.

Secondly, EC fans’ high efficiency means low motor temperature, dramatically reducing the amount of waste heat produced. Low motor temperature also improves the life of highly loaded motor parts like windings and bearings.

And thirdly, varied start-up speeds on EC fans reduce stress on mounting hardware and therefore reduce wear and tear.

4. Reduction in noise levels – no acoustic enclosures required

With speed controlled AC fans, noise levels spike in line with the voltage frequency. In contrast, EC fans offer quiet operation even at a low rotational speed. This is especially relevant for noise sensitive applications such as supermarkets located in residential areas, where the use of EC fans can negate the additional requirement and cost of acoustic enclosures.

5. Easy connection – low set up costs

As EC fans contain compact motors this makes them fully interchangeable with AC products for retrofit. Also EC fans have very little configuration required so no complicated wiring or set-up with a frequency controller is required.

With a payback period of two years or less, and the upgrade procedure resulting in minimal disruption, switching to EC fans is one of the easiest and most effective ways for you to cut your HVAC energy costs.

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