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Fan Velocity explained - Ceiling fans for commercial industrial and warehouses

Fan velocity, or fan speed, is a term often used when discussing air movement. It refers to how fast a fan rotates and plays a crucial role in airflow, noise levels, and energy efficiency. In this quick guide, we'll explore the calculation of fan velocity, its impact on various factors, and why it is essential to consider when choosing a fan.

How is Fan Velocity Calculated? Fan velocity is typically measured in Linear Feet per Minute (LFM), while volume flow is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). To calculate fan velocity, let's consider an example where a fan company claims its 8-foot fan has a CFM rating of 295,000. To achieve this CFM, the fan needs to move air at a speed of 5,402 feet per minute or approximately 61 miles per hour. This velocity is comparable to a tropical-storm-force wind. If a fan's stated CFM seems excessively high, it may indicate an exaggeration, incorrect measurement, or a lack of AMCA certification.

How Fan Velocity Affects Airflow, Noise, and Energy

Airflow The sensation of a pleasant breeze on a hot day is often attributed to wind chill, which aids in evaporation and perspiration. However, when air moves too fast, it can impede the cooling process as it outpaces the rate of perspiration. In settings like warehouses and barns, slow-moving High Volume, Low Speed (HVLS) fans are highly effective. These fans maintain a constant velocity of around 5 MPH, providing sufficient cooling without overpowering airflow.

Fan Noise The noise generated by a fan is influenced not only by its speed but also by factors such as direction, fan and motor type, and installation. Higher velocity fans tend to produce louder noise levels. The fan's direction and the reflectivity of the room can also affect noise levels. Smaller high-velocity fans can have noise levels of up to 80 decibels, while large, low-speed ceiling fans typically range between 39-61 decibels, depending on their size and type. HVLS ceiling fans, with their slower rotation speeds, tend to operate quietly, especially when equipped with direct-drive motors and proper installation.

Energy Efficiency Contrary to popular belief, a fan's effectiveness at cooling people or animals does not solely rely on its speed and the amount of air it moves. HVLS fans are designed to be efficient by operating at lower speeds, typically around 5 MPH, while moving high volumes of air. Due to their larger size, these fans require less rotational speed to achieve the same airflow as smaller, faster fans with higher revolutions per minute (RPM). Consequently, HVLS fans are more energy-efficient, reducing energy consumption compared to numerous smaller high-velocity fans. They offer a wider reach, operate with less noise, and require fewer fans to achieve the desired cooling effect.

Does the Number of Blades Matter? While it is true that a fan with fewer blades requires less energy to rotate, modern technological advancements have minimized the performance differences based on the number of blades. Fans with two to three blades can perform just as well as those with four to six blades. The amount of air moved depends more on the size and shape of the blades rather than the number. For example, MacroAir has developed an airfoil blade shape inspired by NASA, which generates enhanced airflow across the entire speed range. These blades, made of anodized extruded aluminum, require less energy and provide optimal airflow, resulting in quieter operation and longer motor lifespan. Fan velocity, or fan speed, is an important consideration when selecting a fan. While faster speeds may seem desirable, it is crucial to assess factors such as airflow, noise levels, and energy efficiency. HVLS fans, with their low speeds and high volumes of airflow, offer efficient cooling for larger spaces and multiple occupants. By understanding the impact of fan velocity, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your specific cooling needs.

JSO'Will is an Authorized HVLS Dealer serving the greater Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Yakima, Spokane and Portland area. Visit us at

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