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Fan facts for fact fans

The European Energy-related Products Directive will have a big impact on the specification of fans. EC fan guru Geoff Lockwood answers the key questions now facing specifiers - freeto view, simply register

By adopting the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union has undertaken  to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020. To achieve this climate goal, the EU adopted the Energy-using Products Directive  in 2005.

Renamed the Energy-related Products Directive (ErP) in 2009, it will help with studying the savings potential of numerous energy-related products and stipulating minimum efficiency requirements.

Which fans are affected?

Fans of all types – axial fans, centrifugal fans with forward  or backward curved blades, cross-flow and diagonal fans – between 0.125 kW and 500 kW electrical power input are affected.

This applies to fans that are operated as stand-alone devices,  as well as those which run as components integrated in a device or system.

From what point on is the directive binding?

The first stage starts January 2013.

The second stage starts January 2015.

How will the directive be implemented?

The EU defines the minimum efficiency levels in the ErP implementation regulation for  fans. These are defined at best efficiency point based on electrical power input.

To decide whether a fan satisfies the ErP Directive, the efficiency of the complete fan is assessed, ie, the unit of control electronics (if fitted), motor and fan impeller.

The directive will be mandatory in all EU countries and applies  to all fans sold or imported in Europe, as well as those integrated as components of other devices that are imported into Europe.

What is the objective of the regulation?

The new efficiency targets for fans aim to reduce their carbon footprint and optimise power consumption.

The ErP Directive was introduced to help meet the Kyoto Protocol obligation to reduce CO2 emissions. It has looked at numerous energy related products, such as domestic refrigerators and washing machines and has now moved  on to component level, which includes electric motors and fans.

Regulations for motor-only minimum efficiency limits came into effect in June 2011, and will be followed by complete fans in January 2013.

Fans which do not meet the minimum ErP requirements in 2013 and 2015 will not be allowed to be placed on the market in Europe after these dates. This applies to both fans operating as standalone devices and those used as a component within a system or other equipment.

Threat or opportunity?

Fan manufacturers in the UK, including ebm-papst, argued at the outset that the proposals were unworkable and the cost implications of upgrades would penalise them, so they grouped together to lobby for modified legislation that were practical and deliverable.

The setting of minimum efficiency levels for different fans led ebm papst to develop some innovative designs in anticipation of the regulations – the latest centrifugal fan for example has some radical shapes in the impeller that leads to significant reductions in energy use along with reducing noise emissions.

We see the move as an investment opportunity, but we would caution that there may be enforcement issues.

Investment in a higher efficiency product will be returned in a short time because of the lower running costs. But these regulations will only work if they’re enforced fairly. The next big challenge is to make sure Brussels understands that all member states need to put them into practice equally and evenly.

Fans of the future

Our GreenTech EC technology developed for electric drive fans offers an efficiency of over 90 per cent compared with fans with AC motors, in turn enabling significant energy savings.

The fans also have a controllable speed, so it is possible to adapt the air volume to the respective requirements, resulting in even more substantial energy savings.

The fans are also extremely quiet in operation, due to the optimised commutation technique and the aerodynamic design of the impellers. And they are reliable and durable too.

Geoff Lockwood is technical director of ebm-papst and chairman of the EVIA fans working group

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