The growing need for advanced IT infrastructures has impacted industries in all market sectors. Businesses are relying on the scalability and versatility of cloud storage products as they are moving from onsite data centers to using server farms. Companies that rent server farms are experiencing exponential growth as they try to provide the right equipment that can handle the high demand for storage capabilities while ensuring optimal performance.
Providing server farm services requires large amounts of resources. Not only does it require all the server clusters housed in the key location, it also requires adequate storage, electricity, and cooling methods for the server equipment. Rack systems can house servers and other computer equipment in an organized manner as the equipment becomes stacked on shelves. The racks may have open shelves or closed racks with either mesh, glass, or metal doors. Heat can accumulate among the equipment, which can cause failure due to overheating. In addition to providing an adequate temperature-controlled environment, server rack systems should be built with appropriate axial fans to create superior air ventilation.
Example of a Server Farm
EC Technology Providing Ventilation Solutions
Electronically commutated (EC) technology provides data operators with the means to control the energy output of equipment while achieving higher efficiency in its components. This tech relies on using on-board electronics to wisely use energy without waste while getting the most power output. EC technology has made its way into axial fans for servers as the tech is taking the place of AC axial fans as a preferred motor option.
Differences Between EC Axial Fans VS AC Axial Fans
When it comes to selecting between an EC axial fan or an AC axial fan, it's best to understand the differences between the two motors and their operations.
AC Axial Fan
AC axial fans rely on coils in the motor that use AC input voltage. This setup provides a stable and durable energy supply. They can produce high air flows for improved ventilation. When the motor places a current to the rotor through a permanent magnet or slip rings, a magnetic field is created that makes the rotor turn.
EC Axial Fans
EC axial fans are actually brushless motors that run on a DC voltage, yet it can also switch the supply current over to AC electronically. With magnets on the rotor and the fixed windings on the stator, the electronic circuit board senses the rotor's position and switches the supply current when required.
Advantages of EC Technology
There are numerous advantages to using an EC axial fan. One of the main features is that EC technology can be retrofitted into existing components for AC motors. So, data operators can save on costs through the retrofit. In addition, one EC motor model can be used for multiple applications since the electronic circuitry is already present within the axial fan itself.
Additional benefits include:
- Minimize Voltage Fluctuations: Voltage fluctuations can impact AC motors; you can hear and see the fan lower in speed or move faster than what is needed. EC technology has greater modulation control, so the speed and efficiency of the motor won't be impacted.
- Increased Efficiency: A regular brushed DC motor may provide an efficiency of only 15%. An EC axial fan can push up the efficiency rate up to 70% or more. This efficiency is due to the fact that there are no brushes rotating against the shaft when using EC technology as all the power is placed into the rotational force of the motor. So, there is a flat efficiency curve that doesn't significantly change based on the speed of the fan. Also, the fan's speed is programmable. The data operator can match the fan's speed to the operational needs of the server farm without losing efficiency.
- Quieter Operation: The EC technology provides a quieter sound due to the lack of brushed commutators. This advantage is essential for server farms that will need multiple server racks to house all computer equipment as there is less electrical and electromagnetic noise that data operators must deal with daily.
- Longer Lifespan: The lack of brushes also improves the life of the axial fan. There are no brushes that rub against the shaft. This method lowers the amount of wear and tear that the motor experiences. There is also a lower internal temperature in the axial fan. The motors run cooler as the EC technology doesn't have to remove the extra internal heat when the fan is in operation.
- Enhanced Air Flow: EC axial fans produce a higher rate of air flow of up to 40% more to what an AC axial fan can produce. For server racks that are completely enclosed with metal or glass doors, the extra air flow provides significant increases to the ventilation capabilities to help further cool the air inside the rack.
EC Axial Fans Reducing Costs for Data Centers
It can be difficult to consider switching over to EC axial fans if data operators have been relying on AC axial fans for their server farms. Investing in the fans would require initial upfront costs for installation of the fans into each server rack. However, the energy efficiency gained from the EC technology will help to reduce costs on the long-term to make it a sounder investment.
Each server rack can have from 6 to 8 fans located on the bottom of the rack and an additional 6 to 8 fans on the top. The bottom fans will pull in the cooler air, forcing the air on the rack to rise up. The top axial fans will pull the hot air from the rack. This improved air ventilation flow will help the server equipment function optimally without overheating.
Converting from AC fans to EC fans can be done easily. All that a data operator has to do is drop in the new unit. No major upgrades will need to be performed and no lengthy installation process is required; this feature helps to minimize costs. Additionally, the programmable speed control offers increased benefits. Some EC axial fan motors allow the user to manage and control the speed by regulating it using the 0-10V/pulse-width modulation (PWM) and 4 to 20 mA. With greater speed control and the ability to monitor the speed using the integrated software, the fan won't go faster than is required and will not use up more power to operate.
Converting AC to EC Power
When it comes to converting from AC to EC power, there is no lengthy process. While the EC axial fan operates as a DC brushless motor, it uses an AC power supply. This is due to the integrated electronics; the fans can be powdered directly from the AC mains. The software in the fan handles the commutation and then ensures that the speed of the fan is regulated based on how it is programmed.
Energy Efficiency the Future of Axial Fans
In the past, the lack of efficiency of the axial fan was just an accepted cost burden to server farm operators when doing business. The increase in electrical costs appeared necessary to have fans that could cool off the server equipment adequately. However, with the global demands for more cloud-based capabilities, and companies downsizing their own data centers and instead switching over to renting servers, the need for more servers, racks, and fan equipment has begun to create significant cost-prohibitive issues. With more racks, the need for more fans has increased power demands.
With the introduction of EC technology in axial fans, data operators can see an energy cost savings of up to 20% due to the electronics housed directly into the fans. Data operators can monitor the speed and set it to the desired level. This control can lead to lower energy consumption without impacting the axial fan's performance. At the same token, the speed doesn't fluctuate during power fluctuations, leading to consistent functions that allow for the fans to increase its efficiency up to 70%.
The need to make more sustainable operations will be essential for data centers around the world. By making the 12 to 16 fans located on each server rack more efficient, a company can begin to cut down on the power consumption as well as their power costs.
Leading the Way in EC Axial Fan Products
Working with a trusted and reliable electronics’ designer and manufacturer ensures that you are receiving the right custom products for the job. Here at Epec, we supply both EC axial fans and motor solutions for a range of industries, including HVAC and refrigeration. If you require an EC axial fan, motor, fan pack or accessories, we can create the products that fit your specific operations and power supply capabilities. We also supply all the wires, connectors, and molded plugs for a fast and easy installation process.
If you want to learn more about EC technology and how you can lower axial fan costs while making your equipment more efficient, contact our engineers today.