Improving indoor air quality is a top-of-mind concern for building owners, as more people return indoors to offices, shopping malls, hotels and commercial spaces. HVAC systems are key for meeting these new market demands, and leading technologies have made them more efficient than ever—providing the twin goals of high efficiency and healthier indoor air.
Fan Array Systems are becoming the leading choice for ventilation air handling units for their efficiency, and modular, lightweight design. They are currently the highest energy-efficiency air handling system on the global market, reducing energy consumption by 70% on average, and up to 92% in some applications. Fan Arrays use smaller, digitally controlled fans stacked in a matrix and their primary purpose is to replace legacy belt-driven fans. They are far easier to install, while providing the same levels of ventilation flow as older fans, with far less energy usage, maintenance costs, and footprint.
As of June 2020, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends that a building’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system increase air turnover rates by double. The reasoning is that higher ventilation lowers the risk of spreading coronavirus, as long as there is an adequate supply of fresh air—not recirculated air.
However, this practice becomes costly for building owners, as more energy is consumed to power their fan systems. Building owners need to find a balance—saving on energy costs due to the economic downturn, while also increasing fan usage in order to meet new pandemic guidelines.
Novel technologies like Fan Array Systems have become popular choices to achieve these goals. The global HVAC systems market size was estimated at USD 130.49 billion in 2019. New economic data suggests that the global commercial HVAC market will expand at a CAGR of 6-8% during the next 6 years. The key driver for this market is the growing concern for indoor air quality. Building owners and HVAC contractors are largely driving this market shift with retrofit and green-building projects that transform their energy efficiency by up to 80%.
What is a Fan Array System?
A Fan Array consists of multiple fan units, sometimes referred to as ‘fan walls’ or ‘fan grids.’ Individual fans are powered by Electronically Commutated (EC) motors, which is the reason for their smaller size. If they are manufactured any larger, the units begin to lose efficiency. In order to make up for the air volumes needed in a commercial building, these small fans are set up in an array to match airflow.
EC motors are capable of ‘variable speeds’ which means they can be turned down to 20% speed, but still maintaining 85% efficiency. Efficiency certification tests have even shown up to 92% energy efficiency, when fans are properly placed in an array. Motor selection accounts for nearly all energy saving and losses in HVAC cost analysis, according to the latest research.
These luggage-sized, modular fan units are ultimately designed to replace large, single-fan belt-driven units. Older single-unit, belt-driven fan units have very low total efficiency according to REHVA, the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations, which measured over 700 buildings in Sweden.
Traditional belt-driven fans also leave a massive footprint on a building’s HVAC system: taking up space, wasting large amounts of energy, and causing vibrations which lead to noise complaints.
Fan Array Systems address all of these challenges through energy-efficiency design, affordable installation, and reduced operational costs for maintenance costs down the line.
Fan Array Systems - Industry Advantages & Highlights
- 80% greater energy efficiency compared to traditional, belt-driven fans.
- Ease of retrofit installation that requires no specialized machinery to install, and each unit can be hand-carried by a single technician.
- Smaller footprint. Fan Arrays are made up of smaller ‘blocks’ which can stack on top of each other in a lego-like grid, fitting within any space or access constraints.
- Variable speeds. If one fan fails in a Fan Array, other fans can automatically speed up to compensate without any operational losses. In times of lower energy usage, fans can also slow down to conserve energy. The system can reach peak efficiencies and optimal ranges under many varying circumstances and then adjust automatically during operation. A large, single fan unit typically lacks variable speeds, which is a key disadvantage in terms of efficiency.
- Smart monitoring. Since EC rotors are electric, digital sensors can provide forewarning for any slowdowns or predicted fan failures well ahead of time. On top of this, these processes can use automation controls to trigger at certain thresholds, optimizing for efficiency even in uncertain events.
- Lower maintenance costs when compared to traditional belt-driven fans which are mechanical and thus leave messy greasing and dust accumulation. EC motors in Fan Arrays have no belts to replace, or bearings to lubricate, since they are completely electrically driven.
- Redundancy. If a single-unit fan fails the other fans can compensate automatically, making the Fan Array the best choice for continuous, reliable operation.
- Noise attenuation. Fan Array Systems are as quiet as a computer fan, while old belt-driven units can rumble like a car engine. This is because EC Motors are quieter at all operational speeds, especially the low-frequency octaves that cause vibrations and therefore complaints among tenants.
Energy Savings and Healthier Indoor Air
As Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) becomes top of mind for consumers, the HVAC world needs to quickly adapt to modern fan systems and discard their legacy ones.
While there are a number of HVAC options that improve IAQ, none above a Fan Array system can match the level of ROI. Fan units are the primary energy consumer in any HVAC implementation, so targeting more efficient fans yields the best results and opens multiple opportunities for lowering operational costs.
No matter what building type or HVAC system you have, most of your energy consumption comes from the fan system. Retrofitting the fan system can improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC equipment, without having to replace any other unit.
Fan Array systems typically lead to energy cost savings in total payback periods of only 1-2 years, saving between 30 to 60% on annual electricity costs.
The Fan Array System manufactured by Swiss Rotors runs up to 92% energy efficiency, and can be custom retrofitted into any-size space within weeks by a single technician, due to its modular and lightweight design. Consult leading HVAC technicians at swissrotors.com to see how Fan Arrays can guarantee energy efficiency for your next project.
Watch this video to learn why you may be better off replacing a single-fan solution with a fan array system. Check how multi-fan units, also known as fan walls, work. Powered by an EC motor, this cost-efficient and energy-saving solution is easy to install and can lend itself to almost any commercial industrial, or residential application.