What Makes a Real Industrial Fan?

September 25, 2018
Vic Kiefer

When fan performance is critical to your uptime and profits, you want it to provide years of reliable service. That’s why you should never send a commercial fan to do an industrial fan’s job. 

Trouble is, there are a lot of cheap imposters out there. Don’t be fooled by their “low” price tags, because they’ll cost you a lot more when they fail — which usually happens sooner rather than later. 

Here’s how to tell the difference between a fan that’s really built for tough jobs and the commercial knock-offs that can’t handle industrial tasks. 

Proven design for the job

True industrial fans are built tough. They use heavier-gauge materials, bearings that are designed for years of long life, high belt life service factors, and can handle higher static pressures. Everything on them should be built to ISO standards, and centrifugal fans should also be speed-tested to FEA standards.

When it comes to fans, size does matter, so make sure you’re getting something large enough to do the job. Commercial guys don’t like to build anything much bigger than 36 or 48 inches.

An industrial fan manufacturer should also be flexible enough to customize the right solution, not just say, “Here’s what we sell. You can get it in red or blue.”

The right materials and coatings

Your fan vendor should care about where your fan will be used — from airstream contaminants to ductwork specs, temperature limitations and more. For example, if you’ve got chlorine gas in your system, it will eat up an aluminum fan in no time.

Beware of vendors who try to sell you “coated steel.” That usually means they’ve just slapped a coat of epoxy, paint or resin on it. They’ll tell you it’s corrosion-resistant, but that’s only true — sort of — until you scratch it. Look for powder-based coatings that cover every nook and cranny and cure up hard.

It’s also not enough to have coatings on the blades. Wheels and props need protection too.

Prop, wheel and bearing materials

Whenever possible, look for props that are cast as a single piece. A welded prop is your second choice if you have a specialized application like high heat, corrosion or food preparation, where an aluminum prop won’t work. There are some really weak fans out there — some are even held together with pop rivets. They’ll cost you more from Day One by running slower than an industrial fan of the same size.

Wheels and bearings aren’t as obvious, but they’re critical to the life of your fan. Make sure they’re also made from the right materials (don’t have an all-fiberglass fan if your bearings are metal), and do not exceed the manufacturer’s speed recommendations.

Industrial-grade motors

Motors should meet high reliability and efficiency standards. Look for bearings that are easy to re-lubricate and tight tolerance shafting. A savvy fan maker will also ensure service locations for your motor brand are nearby if you need maintenance or repairs.

Predictable sound levels

It’s not unusual for commercial guys to test the smallest fan they make and do some fancy math to calculate sound levels for the bigger sizes. By contrast, nothing leaves the Hartzell plant that hasn’t been tested in our lab or approved by AMCA for air and sound. In addition, Hartzell airfoils are specially engineered to reduce sound levels.

A manufacturer willing to stand behind their products

Most commercial fan guys will give a one- or two-year warranty (at the most) — because they know their fans aren’t likely going to last much longer than that.

Hartzell builds tough, reliable and robust industrial-grade fans. That’s why we back every fan we make for five years. Nobody else has the confidence to do that.

Just saying.

Ready to slash your lifecycle cost with the right piece of equipment? Contact Hartzell Air Movement for a no-obligation consultation.