Why upgrading fans is a cost-effective approach to saving energy in existing buildings.
The HVAC industry has never been under such a focussed spotlight in regard to matters of the environment, than it is right now. With ever-increasing conversation about global warming and very real fears about the damage to our planet due to high industrial demands, air conditioning manufacturers are being forced to sit up and listen.
Not only is the industry under social pressure to reduce its carbon footprint and to operate more efficiently, it is now legislation. The Eco-design Directive has changed the landscape, forcing manufacturers to look at their production line and find more energy efficient ways to achieve the same results.
HVAC equipment can often account for more than 40% of a commercial building’s energy consumption, thus meaning the Eco-Design Directive is talking directly to them. Some business owners, while aware of the high environmental and financial cost of using so much energy on their cooling equipment, often don’t have the resource to invest in replacing older air handling units that still appear to be functioning.
Fortunately there are simple ways to significantly improve the energy efficiency of existing HVAC equipment, without having to replace full units. Extensive research and development along with live installation data capture has shown that by replacing AC fans with an EC fan upgrade, an organisation can optimise its air handling unit for ultimate energy efficiency, potentially reducing energy usage by up to 70%.
Fan technology has come a long way in the last 20 years. This coupled with the fact that a fan’s performance will naturally degrade over time means that retrofitting AHUs with newer fans is one of the easiest ways to save on energy costs.
Figures show that for a relatively low initial investment by means of upgrading parts (as opposed to whole units), the financial payback forecast is substantial. Furthermore whilst owners of older equipment are not required to meet the new legislation with their existing units, in doing part-upgrades they are demonstrating their contribution towards a greener, cleaner planet.
The key message is not to look at the initial financial cost for the equipment, but to consider the lifecycle of the product along with the associated operational energy costs. It is also important to understand that there are a number of options available to minimise energy consumption by replacing less efficient fans and motors.
1. Direct motor replacement with current high efficiency AC motors, which can alone provide energy savings of around 20%.
2. Replacement of older, less efficient forward curved fans with high efficiency backward curved or aerofoil blade fans.
3. Modification of inefficient, costly belt drive fans with modern direct drive fans, either Plug, AC, PM or EC, with suitable speed control. Upgrading from belt driven fans to a direct drive solution could reduce ongoing maintenance costs by up to 80%
By adding variable-speed AC motors, PM motors or EC fans to the AHU, savings of between 30 to 60% on annual electricity costs can be made.