One of the biggest differences between the two is their respective levels of power. Fans move air by slightly increasing pressure, while blowers move air moderately to strongly increasing pressure. Blowers are appropriate for industrial and commercial settings, while fans are appropriate mainly for the home. Another difference between blowers and fans is the fact that blowers work using mechanical power, while fans work using electric power. To work, blowers use an impeller (rotor) and blades. The impeller creates centrifugal force, which in turn moves air in just one direction. That direction is determined by the way the blades are pointed. Fans also use an impeller and blades. However, in contrast, fan blades circulate the air in all directions via continuous airflow.
So, while we do make some references to fans in this article, note that the companies associated with this post make industrial blowers, not residential fans.
The duties of industrial blowers are fairly limited, but very important. These duties include drying, heating and cooling, general ventilation, and a few other specialized uses like aeration, vacuum creation, and combustion.
Industrial blowers are very versatile and varied because they are used in just about every setting imaginable that calls for clean air or comfortable temperatures. Such settings include those in the home, at the workplace, in gyms, spas and bathrooms, and in any industrial or commercial building. Some of the many industries in which customers use industrial fans and commercial fans include industrial cleaning and building maintenance, electrical power, disaster relief, healthcare, air quality control, cryogenics, food processing, printing, agriculture, mining, welding, automotive, paper making, cement production, textiles, and packaging.
The history of industrial blowers is tied up in the long and storied history of the domestic fan. However, today, we’ll leave out some of the domestic fan details and cover mostly those related to industrial fans.
One of the earliest industrial blower-esque systems that we know of was an air conditioner from the Han Dynasty in China. This air conditioner was a manually operated rotary fan, featuring seven wheels. It was designed by engineer Ding Huan. Several hundred years later, during the 8th century (Tang Dynasty), another Chinese engineer redesigned the air conditioning fan, so that it could use hydraulic power.
In 16th century Europe, miners used the first successful industrial fan blower, a centrifugal fan, for ventilation. Georg Agricola makes mention of this in his book De Re Metallica. After this, people made little use of centrifugal fans until the 1800s. Yet, in the meantime, scientists like Robert Boyle and Otto von Guericke were making important discoveries about airflow and the principle of vacuums. This knowledge allowed later engineers and scientists to make blowers more easily and successfully.
One such person was the architect Sir Christopher Wren. He designed one of the first buildings in England, the Houses of Parliament, to feature a ventilation system. Later, in the late 1720s, an engineer named John Theophilus Desaguliers replaced Wren’s ventilation system, which used bellows, with an improved fan system. His ventilation system worked by pulling the stale air out of the building.
Before installing his ventilation system, in 1727, Desaguliers demonstrated how well his system worked inside a coal mine. His ventilation system and those designed by others became very important, as they kept miners from dying from suffocating from lack of oxygen.
After engineers learned how to harness steam power, steam fans became popular for ventilation and cooling in hospitals. After engineers learned how to harness electrical power, industrial blowers advanced even more. They became extremely popular from the early 1900s until the 1960s, when air conditioning temporarily overtook them. Initially, manufacturers abandoned fans completely. After realizing that air conditioning is expensive to run and uses large amounts of electricity, though, manufacturers began producing them again.
In 1998, Walter K. Boyd invented a ceiling fan designed to keep dairy cattle cool. The fan, which is in use still, moves much more slowly than regular ceiling fans, which keeps cattle from becoming anxious and keeps dust from kicking up. Today, these fans are popular in a wide range of agricultural settings. They also supplement HVAC systems used in malls and factories because they have low energy costs.
Today, industrial blowers are more diverse than ever. Manufacturers have developed blowers to meet all sorts of specialized needs, from laboratories to clean rooms to burn units. Engineers, designers, and manufacturers everywhere push themselves every day to produce the next innovation in ventilation, heating, and cooling.
Of all the industrial blower products available on the market, the most frequently purchased ones are ventilation fan systems and exhaust fan systems.
Ventilation fans are air blowers used in conjunction with ventilation equipment. They are essential to ventilation systems, as they are the component that moves the air through the ventilation systems. Typically, users install them to circulate air to avoid harmful gases and unpleasant smells from a work area. They can also heat and cool homes and offices.
Exhaust fans are a type of ventilation fan. They remove gas from one area and send it towards another. Typically, they are found in ventilation system ductwork, where they are the final equipment the air encounters before the vent system sends it away.
Regardless of their function, there are two main types of industrial blowers. These are centrifugal blowers and axial blowers.
Centrifugal blowers, or radial fans, are commonly used to create vacuums for use in lab environments and with surface cleaning applications. When a centrifugal blower is operating at the same RPM level as an axial blower, it is capable of producing a more highly pressurized airflow, thanks to the added efficiency of centrifugal motion. This is excellent for a high pressure, concentrated air flow application.
Centrifugal blowers have many subtypes with various applications. Subtypes include acid gas blowers, air foil, backward curve, backward inclined, forward curve, industrial exhausters, centrifugal floor dryers, mechanical vapor recovery blowers paddle wheel, pre-engineered (PE) fans, high pressure blowers, radial blade, radial tipped, specialty process gas blowers, and surgeless blowers.
Axial blowers are very useful for widespread heating and cooling. They distribute air much more evenly than centrifugal blowers. They are inefficient for use with applications that feature sharp turns. The best example of such an application is complicated ductwork, which is much better served by radial blowers, which suck air into their enclosures from one side and spit it out the other. However, in some settings, like at a warehouse without central air conditioning in the summer, this concentrated air flow will provide only selective relief. Instead, what this setting requires is a large axial fan, which will distribute air much more evenly, providing more uniform relief.
Axial blower subtypes include cooling fans or cooling tower fans, axial flow fans, portable blowers, high temperature axial fans, mixed flow fans, tube axial (tubeaxial) fans, vaneaxial fans, variable pitch axial fans, and variable pitch on-the-fly axial fans.
Axial cooling fans are incredibly common. Examples of them include portable desk fans, table fans, ceiling fans, free-standing oscillating fans, mounted oscillating fans, and some ventilation exhaust fans.
Other types of fans include regenerative blowers, exceptionally large blowers, direct drive blowers, and belt drive blowers.
Regenerative blowers are used to aerate hot tubs, spa pools, ponds, and other small bodies of water. They provide improved HVAC functions.
Very large blowers can create wind tunnels for aerodynamics research and development or spread snow on ski slopes.
Direct drive blowers are connected directly to a motor. In this case, the fan moves along with the motor and the shaft. Direct drive blowers create consistent airflow. They are very common in automobiles.
Belt drive blowers are indirectly connected to a motor. They are connected to a belt, which is connected to a motor shaft. Belt drive fans move when the belt moves, which moves when the shaft moves.
Every industrial blower is different and has different equipment components. Instead of talking generally about all of them, we are going to talk specifically about the equipment components of the two major industrial blower types–centrifugal blowers and axial blowers.
Centrifugal blowers consist of a rotating disk, blades, and a hub. Together, these components are known as a fan wheel. Fan wheels generate airflow by creating an imbalance in air pressure. Centrifugal fan blades spin in a motion that mimics the forward turning movement of water wheel paddles. The blades of the fan wheel sit individually at 90° angles. As they spin within an enclosure called an annular housing, they suck air into it, causing it to become pressurized. After pressurization, the air expels itself through a chute. Sometimes, fan wheels also come equipped with structural or aerodynamic components.
Axial blowers also have a rotating disk, blades, and a hub. However, axial blowers are different from centrifugal blowers in quite a few ways. First of all, axial blowers feature curved blades, not angled blades, that spin around an axis. Second of all, the movement of axial blower blades is less like the movement of paddles and more like the movement of hands around a clock. While they both create airflow via an air pressure imbalance, axial blowers, unlike the former, create this imbalance through the continued spinning of the curved blades. As long as the blades continue to spin, the airflow will continue.
Industrial blowers offer many benefits. First, they are highly effective in moving air in an enclosed environment. Likewise, industrial blowers are great because they can ventilate or heat/cool large spaces all at once. The same task with domestic blowers would require the use of countless cumbersome box fans. In addition, industrial blowers are more energy efficient and cost-effective than air conditioning units and systems. Finally, industrial blowers are diverse in design and easy to purchase.
Design and Customization
To make you the perfect industrial fan, manufacturers often use computer modeling programs and laboratory scale model testing. When designing an industrial blower system for your application, they usually start with a standard fan design and then tweak it per your needs. Other times, they customize the blower from scratch. The approach they take depends entirely on your application. They make choices based on your application’s size, complexity, projected rotating speeds, operating environment, standard requirements, etc.
Design aspects industrial blower manufacturers must consider include blower dimensions, blower component material (dependent on desired performance and strength, as well as operating environment), static pressure levels (measured in cubic feet per minute – “CFM”), fan capacity for pressure, and fan flow capabilities. Manufacturers can customize your fan in any of these areas.
Safety and Compliance Standards
In all likelihood, your industrial blower will need to meet a handful of safety and compliance standards. The question of which comes down to your location and your application. In the United States, for example, all industrial fans used in the workplace must be OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant. This is important for the safety of your workers. It’s also a good idea, though not necessarily a requirement, to get an industrial blower that is UL listed. A UL listing simply means that it meets the standards of UL, one of the most dominant global standards organizations. To learn more about which standards your industrial blower should meet, talk to an industry leader.
Things to Consider
Those in search of an industrial blower will have an easy time, as demand is high and competition is fierce. To help give you a leg up, we’ve provided a list of those manufacturers and suppliers we trust most. Check them out by scrolling up; you’ll find them wedged in between these information paragraphs. So, how do you know which one is right for you? We like to say that the right manufacturer is not the one with the best prices, but the one with the best services for you. Of course, price does factor into it. What you’re looking for is a supplier with the right balance of price points, merchandise, and services.