Regulated efficiency changes kick start the ventilation revolution

The Energy Related Products Directive (EU 327 2011 – known as Lot 11) came into force in January 2013 and is by far the biggest overhaul the commercial ventilation sector of the industry has ever seen. Here, Bob Sharples, Industrial Fan Product Manager at Airflow Developments Limited, looks at the implications for building services managers or engineers needing to source compliant replacement industrial fans.

For building services engineers, the implications of higher ventilation efficiencies are comprehensive and two fold. On the one hand, with an emphasis on efficiency, the new requirements are forcing down energy usage. This reduces the carbon emissions and energy costs of any new industrial fan, which is great news for building managers. However, the directive does also mean that going forward, a simple ‘like for like’ replacement will not always be an option. As the changes are phased in, the alternatives will need to be more carefully considered.

Under the CE Marking ErP Directive, LOT 11 sets out minimum standards for industrial fans and more specifically, fans driven by electric motors with an input power between 125W to 500kW. The EU is targeted to cut carbon emissions by 20% of their 1990 levels by 2020 and to help achieve this, they also set three key dates of minimum motor efficiency implementation within EU 640- 2009 (a separate motor only efficiency regulation); the first being 16 June 2011, which saw the minimum requirement for all three phase motors rise to IE2 standard.

The latter stages feature more stringent measures, including a modification on motors between 7.5kW and 375kW to a higher IE3 minimum rating by 1 January 2015 or minimum IE2 if they are operated/equipped with electronic speed control (VSD). Ultimately, in January 2017, any motor between 0.75kW and 375kW will also be required to achieve this higher IE3 rating, or minimum IE2 if they are operated/equipped with electronic speed control (VSD).

Less energy

Essentially, Lot 11 has challenged manufacturers to develop fans that are capable of moving the same air, by duty – but using less energy. The market has been able to respond and more energy efficient fans are now coming through in line with each phase – with the targets predominantly being achieved by installing an energy efficient EC motor into fans rather than an a much less efficient AC.

To ensure a fan complies, CE Marking simplifies the process. It’s simply a case of checking the casing for the CE symbol on the product and the manufacturing date.

In addition, the following data should be marked on or near the rating plate on the fan:

• Overall efficiency rounded to one decimal place

• Measurement category used to determine the energy efficiency (A-D)

• Efficiency Category (Static or Total)

• Fan Motor Efficiency Grade (N) at optimum energy efficient point

• Whether the calculation of fan efficiency assumed the use of a VSD and, if so, whether this is already integrated or needs to be installed with the fan

Non-compliant fans manufactured prior to the introduction of the regulation in 2013 may still have a CE Marking and manufacturers will be able to supply these fans as a direct replacement for an existing identical model. However, the additional data, detailed above, will not be shown on the product and these models will need to be withdrawn in 2015, as a higher tier of efficiency is integrated into manufacture.

Self regulation

As the ErP Directive is self-regulatory, sourcing products with a formal CE Marking and supplied ErP efficiency data is particularly important, as only then can you be assured that they comply. With the requirements putting a fair amount of pressure on manufacturers in terms of the time and investment required to develop and test new products, there are some concerns that not all will adhere to the stringent guidelines, making any formal verification valuable.

However, many in the industry have welcomed the changes and how they have stimulated innovation. Generally, the industrial fan market has seen minimal technological change concerned purely with efficiency over the last 30 years and Airflow, in particular, has actually relished the challenge of updating its range – with a series of upgraded industrial products due out imminently.

The ErP Directive will ultimately mark a huge change in the way we think about the energy efficiency of ventilation; especially in commercial and industrial markets where perhaps previously, finding a like for like replacement at the cheapest unit cost was the prominent driver. Now the industry is being forced to think about industrial fans on new terms – on the basis of energy usage and carbon emissions. And this can only be a good thing, for the organisation and the environment.

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