With a monthly electricity bill of €2000 Paul Neff checks precisely to see where which device consumes how much electricity. The Hohenlohe farmer manages a 100 hectare farm with 1600 fattening places and 1500 piglet rearing places, with 300 sows scrambling about the whole area. In 1998 his business was the first in the world to have fans powered by energy-saving EC motors.
In 1997 Gerhard Leutwein was explaining the current range of motors and fans to visitors at the Ziehl-Abegg stand at EuroTier in Hanover when he suddenly heard a familiar dialect: Paul Neff wanted to find out how he could actively aerate his new pen with minimal energy usage. After just two sentences one thing was obvious: both lived just 10km from each other and the conversation became more personal and more humorous. Mr Neff still remembers well how he badgered the head of development: 'You have to build fans where the power comes out the back!' - Leutwein seized on this and explained that Ziehl-Abegg had just developed a new motor which was extremely energy-efficient.
Market launch of “ETAvent”
The Künzelsau-based motor and fan manufacturer had already been using EC motors in the new digital exchanges of Deutsche Post/Telecom since the beginning of the 1990s. The power and control electronics on these EC motors were still housed separate to the motor. Now, the developers had a motor up their sleeve in which the electronics were positioned directly to the rear of the motor. All the testing had been positive; the aim was for the combination of modern EC motor and fan to perform quietly and safely in animal stables under the name ‘ETAvent’.
Eight pens in the new stables at the Neff farm were to be used in a continuous comparison trial for fans: conventional AC motors were installed in four pens and new EC motors in the other four. Each motor was fitted with its own metre. Mr Neff continually phoned through the test results to Ziehl-Abegg so he remembers them very well: “The power consumption of the fans fitted with the new motors was just 43% of the previous level under exactly the same framework conditions'. Viewed over the whole year the savings totalled 80 per cent. So the use of EC motors, whose purchase price is significantly higher than that of AC motors, pays for itself pretty quickly.
Motors in continuous, year-round operation
The fans used by the farmer Mr Neff operate all-year round. With higher or lower output depending upon the outside temperature and stable occupancy. Five of the eight fans were in continuous operation for 18 years without any problems. On three of the fans, the bearing only had to be changed once within the 18 years. 'But in one old stable I’ve also got fans which have been working for 40 years without having the bearing changed', emphasises Mr Neff.
The agricultural estate in Füßbach houses 300 sows as well as 1600 fattening places and 1500 piglet rearing places. Maintaining a constant temperature in all the pens is extremely important. The Ziehl-Abegg control units in the aisles control the fans in the pens in such a way as to maintain the precise temperature, regardless of the weather conditions and level of occupancy. For Mr Neff reliability is extremely important, that’s why he relies on brand products from Ziehl-Abegg: 'We need something reliable, not any cheap fans', he also swears by the fans from Ziehl-Abegg. Because unreliable equipment would lead to the animals suffering harm and we can’t have that.
Pictured above: master electrician Bernd Häffner (left) installing a new FFowlet agricultural fan with energy-saving ECblue motor on Paul Neff’s farm