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Magnetic Attraction

Current mainstream AC fan technology may not provide the required level of energy efficiency to comply with forthcoming legislation. Julian Milnes reports

Installing AC fan technology may not provide the requisite long-term energy efficiency requirements for forthcoming legislation, forcing companies to replace equipment after a short period.

Speaking at a seminar on EC fans organised by ebm papst, technical director Geoff Lockwood claims that companies are being short-sighted by not embracing magnetic based EC fan equipment, which is claimed to offer energy savings of up to 30 per cent over AC technology.

“Standard AC fans fitted now will prove to be a heavy burden in the near future as the CRC directive (Carbon Reduction Commitment – see box) gets into full swing.”

Furthermore, the EU, which has set out to improve the efficiency of energy related products with its Ecodesign directive, is set to vote on improving fan technology, which, if passed will put further pressure on design and energy consumption.

The proliferation of fan technology is prolific in business, with applications in HVAC, refrigeration and industrial engineering.

Mr Lockwood also points out that Ecodesign is set to focus on heating equipment, data centres, and refrigeration and freezing equipment efficiency – all areas that are dependent on fan technology.

In respect to CRC, analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) claims that in the first year of the scheme alone, companies could face additional energy costs of 4% - 6%. Operational costs related to energy could increase by up to 20% by 2015, representing as much as 1 to 2% of the costs of a typical company in the scheme.

PwC analysis demonstrated that poor performers with an energy bill of £1m could face an additional £500,000 costs on top of their energy bill over the next five years. By 2015, this could equate to around an additional 20% on the energy bill each year.

“As energy regulations continue to become more stringent, standard AC fan technology, particularly with no variable speed control, is looking more and more redundant.”

He also points out that EC fans are set to be approved in January for the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme in a new category called Permanent Motor Magnets, after a nine-year campaign of lobbying, discussion and debate, for which Mr Lockwood won an RAC Cooling Award.

The scheme offers tax relief for investments in equipment that meets the published energy savings criteria.

One of the major benefits of magnetic fan technology is the relative simplicity in integrating a control function – the ability to tailor or reduce fan speed can significantly reduce energy consumption. For example, at 50% air flow, power consumption is rated at 12.5 per cent of maximum

Conversely, AC technology is not inherently designed to feature control optimisation, while fitting external control produces little efficiency gains and can be time consuming, according to ebmpapst.

As for the future, Lockwood believes that there will be a further use of intelligent controls, which can control fans individually based on system requirements, also, by using system integration the fans could ‘talk’ to each other to ensure overall optimum efficiency.

There will also be more focus on getting the supply chain to work together, to fine tune performance and ensure that the correct installation is chosen and maximised.

“We are seeing more instances where we are talking with end users regarding specific component performance and sharing our knowledge with consultants who are taking this information and applying it as part of the overall project. I see this approach, of working together and sharing information, as the way ahead in terms of further improving system efficiency.”



The Carbon Reduction Commitment is determined on the basis of a business’s half hourly electricity supply over the course of the qualification year - 2008. CRC is based on supplies of electricity to organisations overall, rather than individual sites

This is the period for the introductory phase, while 2010/2011 is the second phase.

To qualify, the business must have had at least one half hourly electricity meter settled on the half hourly market within your organisation in 2008.

If it meets the first criterion and the total half hourly electricity supplied across your entire organisational structure during 2008 was equal to more than 6,000 Megawatt hours (MWh) you must register as a participant in CRC.

If you meet the first criterion and the total half hourly electricity supplied across your entire organisation during 2008 was less than 6,000MWh during the qualification period you must make an information disclosure.


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