Poor Indoor Air quality (IAQ) has been demonstrated to have a negative effect on attention span, with high CO2 levels or temperatures having shown a noticeable drop in concentration among students.
Longer-term impacts on health such as headaches, coughs, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin are also known side effects of inadequate IAQ.
Constant airflow is a year-round health and safety requirement on top of summer cooling needs, but cost, energy efficiency, and reliability all factor when considering commercial fan purchases for your school.
Finding the answer to achieving optimum temperatures of 18-25 degrees in the classroom isn’t as easy as popping down to the supermarket with some petty cash: off-the-shelf options can only tackle top temps to some degree.
Still, choosing between commercial options, from injected moulded plastic to aluminium fan housing with plastic spigots, galvanised steel with a polyester epoxy finish, hot-dipped galvanised mild steel, reinforced moulded polypropylene plastic, epoxy coated steel, UV-stabilised fibre glass and more, can make decision-making feel like a minefield.
For this reason, handing over your heating and cooling conundrums to an expert can help reduce stress levels, cost, and noise, as well as those top temperatures. Manufactured specifically for high use within educational environments, commercial fans are often supplied by companies knowledgeable about a school’s particular needs and standard requirements, so it’s worth doing some homework and talking to those with experience in your sector.
Popular fans for school buildings
Popular in the USA, and increasingly so across Australia, High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans move air towards the floor in a column that rolls in all directions until it reaches a wall, or another airflow from another fan.
This movement causes the hot air to go up and back towards the blades and causes the cold air to sink. During winter, HVLS fans redistribute warm air trapped at the ceiling down to floor level to create an effective, balanced distribution of warmth. Most HVLS fans are more than two metres in diameter.
Fans can be used to supplement ventilation, particularly important in our pandemic-impacted world. Ceiling fans can be used with windows and doors open, with caution that they do not interfere with the natural flow of air in and out of the space. Without engaging an expert though, schools are at risk of installing fixed fans without specific consideration for how they interact with the natural air flow.
For example, some fixed fans should not be used when windows and doors are closed as this can simply circulate unhealthy air even further than it would usually be spread. Installation should always improve existing natural ventilation.
On the other hand, standing portable fans present downsides for schools such as noise, running costs, and health and safety hazard potential. The standard portable fans widely available to the consumer may not produce sufficient air movement to offer significant improvement to your classroom environment. Moreover, ducted systems are usually designed to be operated with windows and doors closed unless a tailor-made design solution has been found to achieve effective results in conjunction with natural ventilation.
Commercial fans allow for a greater level of control, with automated operation and timers able to be set to suit the season, size and height of a space, under expert guidance, and compliance issues are taken care of. They also invite aesthetic flexibility: custom colours are often doable when schools engage with professionals in this sphere, just expect some additional costs and/or longer lead times.
Mammoth Fans representative, Shannon Bowden explained that “cost-effectiveness and energy-efficiency should be the top considerations for any school looking to purchase commercial fans”.
He advised: “Ceiling fans in general are not only energy-efficient but also great for reducing electricity bills. Schools can benefit from saving about 15 percent on their heating and cooling costs when they use commercial fans in conjunction with their current HVAC systems. In summer, good high volume, low speed (HVLS) fans cool large spaces by moving large volumes of air and in winter, they can be run in reverse mode (programmed via controller settings) to redirect warm air from the ceiling. So, whatever the season, students will be comfortable while learning.
When “fans are fitted with permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSM), they offer better dynamic performance compared to traditional brush and induction motors, as well as higher efficiency, longer life, and less noise. These also don’t have a cumbersome gear box, so no ongoing oil lubrication or maintenance required!”
Stuart Meaney, Marketing Manager at Universal Fans, informed us that one key factor for schools to consider when choosing a ceiling fan is “the size of the area where is going to be installed”.
“For instance, a high-volume low-speed fan (HVLS) is more suitable for larger and more open areas, as it moves a large amount of air at a slower rate; having said that, standard ceiling fans (non-HVLS) in sizes of 80” or 90” can also work well in those areas. On the other hand, smaller rooms would benefit from regular ceiling fans, which are available in different sizes and airflows.
“In terms of energy efficiency, even an alternative current (AC) motor ceiling fan on the highest speed will typically consume just 60 watts. This is about the same as a standard light globe, meanwhile a direct current (DC) motor fan generates around 30 watts on high speed, and 2-3 watts on low speed.
“In addition, for many years, the latter were only available by remote control, but now there are some models that can be operated by fully hard-wired wall control. SMART technology is also popular and enables multiple fans in a space to be controlled individually or as a group.”
Read the latest news and stories in the most recent print issue of School Magazine here.