Substantial energy savings easily achieved through EC upgrade technology

Public sector buildings such as schools, local authorities, government buildings and hospitals could be making considerable energy savings by upgrading their HVAC equipment to innovative Electronically Commutated (EC) Fans.

ebm-papst, the global innovation leader in fan, motor and control technology explains the energy saving possibilities for public sector building portfolios, when they consider upgrading their HVAC equipment to EC fans.

But what exactly is an EC fan and what are its benefits? It is a fan with an EC motor that is a mains-fed, brushless, permanent magnet motor with electronic commutation. EC motors can be more than 90% efficient. When coupled with a high efficient fan they can consume up to 70% less energy, compared to an AC driven fan. EC cost savings can mean payback periods in as little as 12 months

HVAC equipment accounts for 40% of the energy consumption in a commercial building. Simple improvements to the efficiency of installed systems can offer considerable energy and CO2 savings. One of the simplest ways to reduce the energy consumption in buildings is to ensure that all HVAC equipment is fitted with the highest efficiency EC fans.

All businesses are under increasing pressure to reduce their energy consumption whether it be as a result of rising energy costs or the need to reduce carbon emissions. It is therefore important that solutions are found for the simplest and most cost effective ways of reducing a buildings energy consumption.

A complete retrofit or replacement of a system is not needed to maximise performance and reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs. Simply switching to variable EC fans in chillers, air handling units (AHUs) and fan coils will improve efficiencies and cut costs.

A number of high profile case studies demonstrate the outstanding results from upgrading to EC technology.

CASE STUDY – Halving Power Consumption at The Scottish Parliament

Dedicated to reducing both carbon footprint and energy bills. The Scottish Parliament had already made significant improvements to the building, including a reduction in carbon emissions of 25%.

ebm-papst presented them with details of the possible energy savings of upgrading HVAC equipment to EC fans, and a survey was commissioned. It identified the HVAC equipment that would offer the greatest potential for energy savings. Working alongside equipment manufacturer Airedale an optimum solution was provided.

ebm-papst EC fans were used to upgrade Airedale aircon units in the building’s computer room, leading to a reduction in power consumption of approximately 50%. As well as halving power consumption, the project resulted in initial savings of 11.5 tonnes of carbon per year and financial savings of £13,500 per year are expected. Further savings are expected when phase 2 is implemented.

Whilst many new public sector facilities built in the UK already incorporate EC fans in their HVAC equipment, many older government buildings continue to use inefficient equipment. Rather than spending capital on buying brand new equipment, often a more cost-effective option is to upgrade the fans in existing equipment to new high efficiency EC fans.

Upgrading to EC fans offers the following key benefits:

  • Up to 70% reduction in energy consumption
  • Integrated, infinitely variable speed control
  • Reduced noise
  • Payback periods as low as 2 years
  • Direct drive motors for maintenance free operation
  • They are in most cases directly interchangeable with their inefficient predecessors, allowing for simple replacement with minimal disruption.

In addition to the direct savings from converting from AC to EC technology, the upgrade technology process often uncovers other inefficiencies within HVAC systems. For example, some original fan designs incorporate belt drives. These are used to set a rotational speed of the fan during commissioning, but they add additional energy losses and require regular costly maintenance. A new EC fan is directly driven, so no belts and pulleys; no extra losses and no belts to maintain and the speed is easily set at commissioning with its integral speed control.

Simple steps to a successful EC upgrade

Stage 1 – Site Survey - The first step is to make an initial survey of existing equipment to establish the feasibility of the project. This will include potential savings and payback.

Stage 2 – Estimated Savings - After the initial feedback, an estimate of the potential savings in energy consumption, carbon and financial cost is provided. This will indicate the cost of EC fan installation and the payback period.

Stage 3 – Trial Installation – When proceeding with an EC fan upgrade, an initial trial installation to confirm the figures is recommended. For example, if the upgrade of 100 fan coil units is proposed, the trial should begin with one or two to confirm the savings estimates.

Stage 4 – Site Rollout - Following a successful trial installation, the information is there to implement a site-wide upgrade. This can be done all in one go, or in a phased programme over several months or years. This will allow the planning and implementation of a successful HVAC energy reduction project.

ebm-papst industry-leading EC fans have for years, led the way in meeting demand for improved energy efficiency.

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