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Ecodesign requirement for fans - is it working?

Is the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive actually achieving what it was set up to do? Geoff Lockwood has an answer
The European Commission hopes to reduce the electricity consumption of fans within Europe by some 34 TWh per year by 2020. It hopes to achieve this through energy related products regulation (ErP). The resulting legislation setting minimum energy efficiency requirements for fans driven by electric motors has been in force since 1 January 2013. While it is too early to determine if it is working to achieve the specific energy reductions, it can be seen to have caused ripples through the fan industry and fan users.

Regulation has long tentacles
The regulation has long tentacles and has woken up many parts of the fan industry and equipment manufacturers that previously would not have seen themselves as fan manufacturers. Anyone who puts together a fan, housing and motor is now classified as a fan manufacturer and has to ensure the fan meets the minimum energy efficiency requirements. Very few will be able to do this as they do not have the necessary equipment to measure the fan performance and hence the fan efficiency. The test equipment is large and costly and an unwise investment for a company designing one or two fans per year.

Those equipment manufacturers are now turning to fan manufacturers to assist them. Companies that previously supplied just impellers are now providing more information to show what the efficiency would be if a motor were fitted.

Others are turning to fan manufacturers that make the complete matched and integrated assembly of a fan and motor that has been measured and declared compliant.

The more cynical among us will argue that these regulations will not be enforced and some have said they will ignore them. But that is not the British way. We do follow rules and regulations in Britain and will obediently form an orderly queue when necessary. So the reality is that the majority of fan manufacturers in the UK are indeed heeding the regulations and withdrawing non-compliant product.

What of the ones that claim they will ignore them? The users of fans, many of whom are now also seen as fan manufacturers, also want to do the right thing and use only compliant fans. They are asking the question; are those fans compliant? Making the cunning ones think twice about their decision.

The regulation has caused quite a stir within the industry. Most fan manufacturers have incurred cost over the last two years measuring all their fans, withdrawing non-compliant ones and developing new versions. This is not a simple exercise and has required an investment across the industry of millions of Pounds and Euros.

The regulations are working
This activity may not be so obvious outside of these businesses, but what can be seen are companies investing time in association activity and advertising to bring the ErP regulated to the public eye.

Energy saving and carbon emissions cannot be accurately determined, but the fact that many fan manufacturers have withdrawn high consuming products and replaced them with more energy efficient ones means that the regulations are working.

// The author is technical director of ebm-papst UK //
17 April 2013

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