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Better fans for better business

With Brussels continuing its clampdown on high-powered domestic and commercial appliances, and news that the National Grid is looking to safeguard electrical capacity this winter, there really is no better time than the present for facilities managers to start thinking about quick-win energy solutions.

Compared like-for-like with traditional asynchronous (AC) fans, modern EC units consume up to 50% less power than AC motors because they are more than 90% efficient when it comes to converting electrical input into air power.

When it comes to the bigger picture, HVAC and other air movement applications can account for up to 40% of a building’s total carbon emissions – and the fans and pumps in that plant can account for half the total energy it consumes.

Case study

The recent three-stage EC upgrade of multiple CRAC units at the Oxfordshire-based Diamond Light Source synchrotron, a scientific research facility, is a good example of this.

The first install phase, which involved 28 CRAC units, was completed last year and the first energy savings figures are now available. Simply changing from AC to EC units has cut energy consumption by half, and cut costs by £32,000 per year.

While the upgrade was not cheap – it has an estimated payback period of 2.5 years – once the facility has covered the cost of the install it will be directly reaping energy savings of tens of thousands of pounds for decades to come.

Alongside the top-line energy saving benefits, other advantages from EC-driven fan equipment include reduced noise, increased airflow and less maintenance than AC units as they have fewer component parts and a longer lifecycle.

The EU’s stick

So, those are the carrots all laid out. But we must not forget the rather big stick being wielded by the EU.

From January 1, the second stage of European Commission Regulation 327/2011 comes into force, meaning all new fans with a power range of between 125W and 500kW are subject to strict efficiency limits, according to formulas set out by the EU.

The good news is EC proponents have been preparing for the 2013 and 2015 Eco-design of Energy-Related Products Directive roll-out for some time.

Helen McHugh is head of sustainable technology at ebm-papst UK

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