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What lies beneath

Jul 2018 Ventilation | Comments Off on What lies beneath
What lies beneath

A 4in fan is often seen as a standard, even simple piece of kit with not much to choose between different brands. But leading ventilation manufacturers work extremely hard on design and technology to achieve the best performing fan that offers the simplest installation and operation. Tom Wodcke, product marketing manager from Vent-Axia, reveals what’s behind the simple façade

With so many different brands and options available, what should electricians and wholesalers base their fan selection on? Is opting for the cheapest fans on the market the best option so that customers can be offered the lowest price possible for a job? Not only is this a false economy, leading to more call-outs and product failures but it is also wrong, according to a recent survey. At least half of electricians want to offer better quality – even if that means paying a little bit more.

In a survey commissioned by Vent-Axia, electricians were found to fall into two segments: 50% were ‘price driven’ and 50% chose quality over price. The latter wanted satisfied, happy customers with a fan that “looks good”, “isn’t noisy” and provides good indoor air quality (IAQ). As well as keeping customers happy, the quality-driven electricians commented that their choice of fans meant fewer call backs, which can damage reputation and cost money. Luckily, manufacturers have been working hard to develop premium fans that tick all these boxes.

The evolution of the fan

Residential fans have evolved significantly from the first intermittent bathroom fans. Manufacturers have been working hard to improve noise levels, energy efficiency and ease of installation, to ensure product design is developed in advance of market demand. These are all great selling points.

In the past, a bathroom fan was mostly seen as a functional item that needed to provide good IAQ. But old inefficient unitary fans can be very noisy and some households are so distracted by the noise that they turn off their extractor fans altogether, potentially leading to damage to the fabric of their property and the twin blights of mould growth and poor IAQ that can lead to ill health.

With ventilation essential to health and comfort in the home, consumer demand for silent products has led to manufacturers investing in continually improving bathroom extractor fan acoustics. One such example is Vent-Axia’s innovative Silent Fan. It boasts the lowest sound rating on the market for an intermittent bathroom fan, operating at just 14dB(A) – an impressive 75% quieter than standard intermittent bathroom fans.

An increased focus on interior design is also driving improved aesthetics of everything in the home, including fan design. Following consumer research, Vent-Axia redesigned its Silent Fan to improve the simple, clean lines giving an attractive slimline fascia that makes it look like a tile.

The evolution of installation

A quick and easy fan installation is a key selling point for electricians and wholesalers alike because it saves time and money as well as helping to gain customer satisfaction. No electrician wants to get called back to a fan installation because it’s too noisy, the settings aren’t at the right sensitivity or it’s not doing its job properly. With Vent-Axia’s Lo-Carbon Svara, we believe these worries are eliminated and electricians can recommend it with confidence.

The 6 in 1 Lo-Carbon Svara offers easy installation and set-up via an app combined with quiet operation, attractive design and low running costs to cut bills, making this multi-function and multi-room fan a popular choice. Combining condensation control to avoid mould with improved IAQ for a healthier home environment, households are sure to be happy. Add to this the ability to control the fan via a smartphone and any adjustments that are needed can be easily made by the homeowner, avoiding the need for the electrician to make a return call.

App control also allows this type of fan to be programmed to cope with the vast majority of installations, offering variable speed modes and a boost option that can be set on a smartphone. It also allows electricians to easily select intermittent or continuous ventilation and whether the humidistat triggers operation or not.

Once the fan is set up, the sensors and speeds can be altered via a smartphone to change the level of sensitivity that triggers them and the speed of the fan. So an app-controlled fan means electricians only need one fan for most installs and wholesalers can save valuable warehouse space by stocking this multi-function product.

The technology behind the evolution

Behind this evolution is extensive research and development with manufacturers using a range of design tools. For example, computational fluid dynamics is used to map the airflow through a fan to ensure it flows as quietly and efficiently as possible. Fan blade design is another important area, with designers ensuring they move as aerodynamically through the air as possible to increase efficiency and reduce noise.

As technology has advanced in other industries, the ventilation industry has benefited too. For example, the rise of 3D printing means that manufacturers can use this in-house in their product development programmes. 3D printing means prototypes can be produced very quickly and easily, allowing design changes to be made swiftly so that manufacturers can meet market demand. In-house testing is advantageous too. Vent-Axia has its own R&D laboratory, including a laboratory for sound testing. This ensures its products are designed in-house to meet the lowest sound levels possible before they are confirmed by an external testing house.

As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, and behind these premium fans is cutting edge design. All the complexity is precision designed into the product at the manufacturing stage so that it is simple to install and use while still offering high functionality.

All these fan design developments mean than wholesalers are in a great position to educate their customers on the benefits and electricians will find they have an easy to install, quiet unitary fan that provides good IAQ. And that is something that will ultimately boost sales for wholesalers and provide electricians with satisfied customers and reduced call backs while allowing householders to relax in stress-free comfort.