Fan efficiency targets need to be balanced

With legislation and regulations surrounding fan motors becoming ever more stringent, and adding cost to the end product, Biddle Air Systems is concerned that manufacturers, end users and ironically, the environment could be affected.

With the non-domestic sector contributing to 38% of the UK’s carbon emissions, energy using products installed in commercial, industrial and public sector premises have recently come under close scrutiny, particularly through the ErP (Energy-related Products) Directive, which aims to make energy consuming products more environmentally sound.

Being relatively large consumers of energy, electrically driven fan motors have become an area of focus within the ErP Directive. The first stage, starting in January 2013, will see fans with an input power ranging from 125W to 500kW having to meet specific efficiency values. Then, from January 2015 a second stage with higher efficiency values will be introduced.

Andrew Saxon, Marketing Manager at Biddle Air Systems, comments: “With fan motors being an integral part of air curtains, fan coils and fan convectors these changes have huge implications for our industry.

“There have so far been some exceptions, but from January 2013 all fans sold within the EU will have to comply with the ErP Directive for fans (2011/327/EC). Our primary concern is that because the fan motors demanded by the directive are more expensive, this could have some serious implications.”

Cost implications

Andrew went on to say: “For manufacturers, the cost implications are two-fold. Firstly, they will be buying a more expensive component, and secondly, because they are essentially adding a different technology to their product that will perform differently, there will be costly modifications and testing/approval procedures to undertake.

“Manufacturers can of course choose to absorb these additional costs, but this will be difficult for those already working to very tight margins. In reality, the cost is more likely to be passed onto customers through product price increases.

“Our fear is that when faced with these additional costs customers looking to retrofit products will decide not to invest and will instead keep their old, inefficient air conditioning and climate control systems so efficiency levels won’t improve and carbon emission reduction targets won’t be met. On new projects the increased cost could be more easily built in, but it might actually lead to customers deciding against the investment altogether.

“We can of course talk about payback periods and how a more efficient fan motor will quickly pay for itself in terms of energy savings, but in many cases products are bought by a landlord who doesn’t pay the energy bills and won’t therefore see any monetary benefit. In this scenario payback figures are essentially meaningless, as the property owner will usually only be interested in the capital cost of the equipment.

“We are seeing the requirements for fan motors becoming ever more stringent, and while we understand this is necessary, the approach does need to be a sensible, balanced one that takes the added cost into consideration.”

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