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A changing of the charge

From January a further 20 per cent of fans currently sold will fall short of another brace of new, tougher, EU efficiency limits, however solutions are out there, says Geoff Lockwood

Brussels is taking no prisoners when it comes to poor energy saving products – from banned light bulbs to vacuum cleaners, we’re all set to see the effect of EU ecodesign targets on our home appliances sooner rather than later.

And from 1 January next year, the Energy-related Products (ErP) ecodesign requirements for new commercial fans ratchet up another gear. At the start of 2013, the first stage of European Commission regulation 327/2011 came into force, aimed at banishing “energy burners” from all European commercial fan applications.

The rules related to new fans only, however, to illustrate the point effectively 30 per cent of fans on the European market prior to January 2013 did not meet the new energy efficiency bar being set.    

From this January, a further 20 per cent of fans currently sold will fall short of another brace of efficiency limits. And the regulation has a wide scope – as well as applying to complete fan motor units, it applies to fans integrated within any other energy-related product.

Effectively, responsibility rests with the manufacturer using the fan, so any HVAC provider that pieces together a unit with multiple fan components from various sources becomes a fan manufacturer in their own right and is subject to the Brussels directive. 

This sounds scary, but what does it mean for facilities managers and HVAC manufacturers when the time comes for a new fan install, and how easy is it to comply with the new rules?  

All new fans with a power range of 125W-500kW are subject to the 2015 efficiency limits.

For axial fans, forward and backward curved centrifugal fans, tangential blowers and diagonal fans the EU has specified efficiency formulas to calculate which units meet the minimum standards – with power ratings and mounting conditions taken into account.

ebm-papst UK has been preparing for both stages of the ErP rollout and knows exactly how many of its fans fit the bill. The good news is, plenty do.

Efficient by design

Our philosophy is continuous improvement, and our GreenTech pledge ensures each new iteration of one of our fans is more economical and ecologically friendly than its predecessor.

This means the vast majority of our electrically commutated (EC) fans are already industry front runners, and they’ve been surpassing the incoming ErP efficiency benchmarks for years as it is.     

Our efficiency workings show that while the ErP requirements are tough, it’s an EC driven fan’s market.

Compared with traditional asynchronous (AC) technology, EC driven motors are more than 90 per cent efficient in converting electrical input into air power and, as a result, they consume up to 50 per cent less energy than AC motors.

And while EC technology is more expensive at point-of-sale than its aging AC relatives, the energy savings generated by EC bring substantial cost savings – into the tens of thousands for big installs – with payback periods of just two years, after which end users can reap the reduced costs entirely.

Leading EC proponents such as ebm-papst UK can calculate the efficiency and lifecycle costs of a selection bespoke ErP compliant solutions for clients – ebm-papst UK has even got an app for that.

So while ErP 2015 is looming, the regulations should not been seen as a restraint. Industry needs to think big. By buying into ecodesigned products and putting new technology to the test, facilities
and HVAC professionals will use less electricity, slash energy bills and cut carbon emissions for decades to come. 

Geoff Lockwood is technical director at ebm-papst UK

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