Why use ceiling fans in an industrial or commercial setting, or any other large open space? The short and simple answer: they can not only make people more comfortable, but save an astonishing amount of money.
Most larger rooms have ceilings of 12′-40′, or greater. Warmer air positions itself at ceiling level, and so it is not uncommon for the temperature at the ceiling to be 20 or 30 degrees greater than at people level. So if you are heating a room to 65 degrees, the ceiling area may be as warm as 95 degrees, and you are in fact paying to heat the room to an average of 80 degrees. Ceiling fans push the warmer air and wasted heat down to people level, and mix the air throughout the room so it is an even temperature. The even distribution also takes some additional workload off the HVAC system, and reduces drafts. Fans placed near doors and other opens repel cold air from entering. Heat from lighting and machinery is recirculated and used, rather than wasted. The result can be a heating energy savings of 30% or more.
In the summertime, fans are used at slightly higher speeds so that the breeze can be felt by people below, and to force ventilation of warm air. Studies have shown that evaporative cooling can lower skin temperature up to 7 degrees, allowing thermostats to be raised with no loss in comfort. Circulation by fans eliminates cold pockets of air and heat build-up, and takes the majority of the circulating load off the HVAC system. It has been established that problems with compressors consistently freezing up can be eliminated with added circulation from ceiling fans. The result is that you not only decrease your cooling bills, but greatly increase the life of your equipment. Fans also repel warm air from doors and other openings, deter bugs, speed the evaporation of moisture, prevent dust from settling, and eliminate stale air. Studies have shown a cooling energy savings of 50% or more, along with improved shelf life of merchandise.
Many establishments have attempted ceiling fan systems before, and not seen such favorable results. This is usually due to a combination of two things: ineffective fans, improperly installed and/or operated. Fans should be evenly installed over the entire building. Most quality manufactures publish data on exactly how much square footage is covered per fan, depending on operating speed. Install additional fans near doors, loading docks, and other large openings, and over people-heavy areas where more body heat will be generated. Fans should run 24/7 as long as the building is in use. For heating, set fans to run at the fastest speed possible without creating an uncomfortable breeze or draft. In the summertime, set fans to run at higher speeds with as much of a breeze as is tolerable. Choosing quality fans is extremely important, this site has several recommendations we stand behind to ensure an effective fan system. See “Industrial Ceiling Fans Brand Guide” and “HVLS Fans“.
Not just studies, but real life examples have shown that a quality ceiling fan system can pay for itself in anywhere from a short few months to one year. Quality fans require no maintenance and will last for decades. I think you will agree that a ceiling fan system is an investment that will offer great returns.