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Not all EC technology is the same

As a matter of fact, many different drive types are categorised under this generic term today, such as PM (permanent magnet motors), ECM (electronically commutated motors) and BLDC (brushless DC motors). ebm-papst was one of the first manufacturers to recognise the economic as well as environmental advantages of EC technology and significantly advanced its development. As early as 1965, we were on the market with the world’s first EC/DC compact fan – 30 years before any other manufacturer. For this reason, EC technology made by ebm-papst is the outstanding product of a consistent efficiency strategy – in a manner of speaking, the original among the EC technologies.

Developing and advancing EC technology has certainly been one of our most important challenges. The success we have had can be seen today in the world’s largest range of EC fans and motors. For over 13 years, mains-powered EC technology has been the worldwide standard in areas such as clean room technology, providing reliable performance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

With its outstanding position both environmentally and economically, EC technology offers comprehensive advantages to beginners as well as those switching from AC to EC. The topic of sustainability has long since become a criterion crucial to making a purchase decision – for our customers just as for their end customers. There is no question that we will continue developing and perfecting EC technology in the future, in order to meet the future requirements of our customers, the market and society – but above all also our own convictions.

The decisive advantage of fans and motors with EC technology compared to conventional asynchronous motors lies in their significantly higher efficiency of up to 90 % as opposed to 20–70 % with AC motors. This means not only better use of primary energy, but also less lost heat and hence a longer service life.

  • Tremendous energy savings of 30 % on average
  • Future-proof
  • Intelligent electronics for numerous control functions
  • Hardware and software from a single source
  • Easy 1:1 replacement from AC technology to EC technology
  • Can be used worldwide (due to wide voltage input)
  • Over 40 years of experience in the area of EC technology
  • as implemented purchase proposition

Viewed technically, EC technology can be labelled as "soft commutation". This involves a combination of commutation strategy and motor design. The result for the customer is low-noise operation without structure-borne noise. This means that we use permanent magnet motors in a variety of designs to achieve the best performance for the respective application and the desired power range. The intelligent electronics balance out synchronisation tolerances, ensuring that all that comes out in the end are the advantages for our customers.

Moreover, EC motors and fans can be used everywhere: They can be operated in a direct current (DC) as well as an alternating current (AC) mains (1 and 3 phases). The size is no longer an impediment, either. By having the electronics fully integrated into the motor, many of our EC fans already have exactly the same dimensions as their AC counterparts.

So there is no more reason to rely on conventional AC fans. This applies to more than the development of new applications. The switch from AC to EC pays off in view of the tremendous efficiency advantages and could not be easier, thanks to plug and play.

Examples

Wherever motors are used for drives or ventilation, energy has to be used as sparingly as possible. Not only the consumer requires this, but also the law with its new directives for limiting energy consumption and protecting the climate. EC technology sets a good example: Even today, all of our EC fans exceed the ErP Directive for 2015. And those aren’t just words – it’s a fact!

EC fans for energy savings in HVAC technology.

Another fact: Even for changing speeds, the EC fan retains its very high efficiency. With AC motors, on the other hand, the already lower efficiency drops significantly. Thus energy savings of over 10 % are attained for condensers/evaporators in which our EC fans work, even at nominal speed. In the continuously controlled range, the relative and absolute savings are substantially greater. Compared to EC technology, conventional phase-angle control can use twice as much energy, if not more, depending on the operating point.

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Just one example for demand-oriented use of fans: the air-conditioning and refrigeration systems of a supermarket. Here one needs full speed and output in the summer at peak load, reduced output in the winter months and whisper-quiet operation at low speeds overnight. These are just examples, but they also reflect real-world conditions that EC technology from ebm-papst takes fully into account.

ebm-papst provides air-conditioning and refrigeration systems for supermarkets.

 With its intelligent open and closed-loop control options, the air-conditioning or cooling systems can be adapted easily to all requirements of manufacturers, owner/operators, consumers, and the general public. With guaranteed high savings potential for energy and costs.

The graphic below, based on the example of size 800 ebm-papst axial fans, makes the difference between AC and EC technology clear: Our EC technology can be used in the entire blue range. Moreover, in the dark blue range it has significant power reserves compared to AC technology. EC technology allows operation at peak load – with very quiet operation.

 EC technology allows operation at peak load – with very quiet operation

Here is an example of intelligent energy savings from real-world applications: A condenser, as used for example in cooling equipment, is equipped with 4 AC fans and alternatively with ebm-papst EC technology. The energy savings possibilities of the EC solution compared to AC fans are considerable – as the graphics below show.

This is a comparison of two condensers, each with four size 800 axial fans: one condenser with conventional AC technology, the other with the innovative EC technology. To configure the respective optimal cooling capacity for different cooling requirements, the air performance is adapted to the fans.

For the condenser with AC fans, this is frequently done by cutting individual fans in and out by means of external switchgear. The fans that remain in operation continue to run at full speed.

The condenser with EC fans has a better solution: it does this by continuously adjusting the speed. All fans remain in operation – resulting in substantial energy savings in power input.

The graphics show the possible energy savings and noise reduction in direct comparison of on/off operation and continuous speed adjustment:

Low energy consumption: The bars show the power input of fans that are activated incrementally as needed. The air performance is reduced by 50 % if two fans are shut off. The blue line shows the power input with continuous speed adjustment.
Lower noise: While shutting off half of the fans (one-half of the air flow) decreases the noise level by only about 3 dB, speed reduction to one-half the air flow attains an improvement of 15 dB.

A condenser is equipped with ebm-papst EC technology.
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Think about air-conditioning in office buildings. Think about heating boilers in residential spaces, range hoods or refrigerators, electronics cooling of computers, ventilation and air-conditioning in the automobile, in commercial vehicles, and on and on. Of course, in all of these applications, function, reliability and safety are everything! Still, the consumer wants to hear absolutely nothing about it – quite literally. 

ebm-papst EC fans in office building air-conditioning reduce noise at all speeds.

Here is something that sounds good: In every application,  EC fans, EC blowers and EC drives made by ebm-papst provide perfect power that can barely be heard!

 

ebm-papst EC technology is really something to hear – or, actually, not to hear. You hear no motor noise across the entire speed range. The advantage: When demand for cooling is low, such as at night, very low operating speeds can be selected. The resonance levels typical for frequency inverter operation – which, by the way, are not always eliminated even in our competitors' EC products – or "phase noise" do not exist in our products, as a different operating principle is involved.

Furthermore, combining AC motors with frequency inverter without an all-pole sinusoidal filter can cause winding and bearing damage.

 

A: Phase-angle control, hum noise (300 Hz)

B: Frequency inverter whistle – motor and device resonance caused by a motor with a frequency inverter

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