When Schuyler Wheeler invented the electric fan, he did not anticipate the innovation that his invention would undergo over the years. The most notable innovation is the incorporation of LED technology into fans. In this article, we explore this technological milestone, what it entails, its features, functions, and more.
What is an LED fan?
Simply put, an LED fan is a type of fan. Therefore, to understand what it is, we should first learn the definition of a fan.
A fan is an electrical device that is used to increase the rate of airflow. This is the umbrella definition since it caters to the different types of fans in the market. Airflow or circulation is needed in many situations and for various reasons.
Fans are equipped with a motor, a blade, and a power supply unit to serve their purpose. The motor is powered by either gas, electricity, or a combustion engine. Then, the power received turns the blades accordingly, hence serving the primary purpose of the device.
Based on the functionality mechanism, fans are classified as either;
- Axial-flow fans: Functions in an enclosed chamber where it receives air through an inlet pipe and expels it using another pipe. These types are also called propeller fans.
- Centrifugal fans: These fans draw air into their center and expel it out at a 90-degree angle. They are defined or categorized based on the type of blade used.
LED technology can be incorporated into either axial-flow or centrifugal fans. We will learn more about this when looking at the mechanism by which an LED fan works.
To summarize, an LED fan is a type of fan that has LED technology. The LED technology in the fan can be used primarily for illumination. Still, other use cases exist. You will find LED fans that are used for aesthetics, among other functions.
How does an LED fan work?
While the functionality of an LED fan does not differ from the regular fan, this particular type works in a specific manner due to its components. The main difference is seen in how the LED adds extra functionality to the fan.
The structure of an LED fan depends on the specific type of fan. This means the components, mainly the LED chips, can be arranged or installed in different ways.
Ceiling fans with LEDs are quite common. These types of LED fans have either an LED array or a screw-in bulb at the base.
Some types of LED fans have LED chips arranged alongside the blades. Also, some of these types have LEDs making up the whole blade. These are collectively known as LED message fans and they are used mainly for artistic renditions.
Going back to the ceiling fans, the LEDs produce heat from light. This heat is cooled off as the fan blades rotate, leaving the air cool. Lighting is a major use of LEDs. Therefore, incorporating LEDs into a fan achieves two purposes in one. This is why LED ceiling fans are quite common, not only as an interior decor but also as a functional element in a building.
There are other types of LED fans that do not prioritize cooling or air circulation. A good example is the LED message fan. This type of LED fan is used to display programmed messages when the blades are rotating. You will learn more about this later.
Components of an LED fan
Unlike regular fans, LED fans have some modifications and components that allow them to function effectively. These components are mainly aimed at supporting the functionalities of LED chips and also the automated or programmed actions. The following are the major components of an LED fan.
Blades are the primary components of any fan. They are responsible for the spinning movement that leads to air circulation.
Over the years, fan blades have evolved in terms of structure, shape, material, orientation, and other aspects to make them more effective. Most fan manufacturers nowadays use particular metals, polymers, or special alloys. These materials are chosen for their ability to glide through air without causing drag.
In LED fans, the blades are chosen bearing in mind the inclusion of LEDs. LED message fans are mostly made from plastic polymers. This enables the manufacturer to embed the LED chips in an array configuration.
The choice of the fan blades to be used will depend on the specific type of LED fan, the manufacturer, and other factors. At the end of the day, the best choice would essentially have to be functional, reliable, and cost-effective.
The major component of an LED fan is the LEDs. Without them, it remains to be a regular fan, especially the ceiling fans. LEDs are semiconductor chips made from inorganic or organic materials such as gallium arsenide (GaAs).
As we said earlier, the LEDs in a fan can be attached in the middle where the blades converge or along the surface of the blades. In the first formulation, the LEDs are usually in an enclosed bulb while the latter has arrays of LEDs.
The LEDs in a fan are responsible for lighting or message projection. Since LEDs are programmable, their brightness and light intensity can be adjusted remotely. Also, this feature enables control of other types of LED fans.
All LEDs need a special controller. These controllers serve purposes such as color switching, brightness control, and patterns. Control options will vary depending on the type of controller and type of LED fan.
The LED controller is usually a hand-held remote device. This remote controller communicates wirelessly with a receiver that is installed in the electrical components of the fan. When the two systems communicate, an action takes place. Still, a fan can be controlled manually, depending on its accessibility features.
In cases where the fan mechanism is interconnected with the LED lights, the controller needs to be linked to the main electrical component of the fan. This enables a synced functionality between the LEDs and the fan.
Every fan needs a motor. This is what is used to spin the blades. A motor is an electrical device that turns electrical energy into mechanical energy. The electrical energy comes from the power supply that is needed for the fan to function.
There are different types of electric motors in the market. While they all share a fundamental principle, the mechanisms may vary. This includes the rate of spinning, components, and their formulations. However, at the end of the day, what matters is that they are all aimed at providing the spin necessary to move the fan blades.
Motors also range in size depending on the type of LED fan. The size of the motor determines its power. Therefore, it would make more sense to use a small motor for a small fan. This would ensure that the motor is adequately serving its purpose.
Power supply system
Like any electrical device, an LED fan requires power. In the early days, fans used (direct current) DC power. Nowadays, they use alternating current (AC) power. This type of power is easier to generate and it does not contribute to energy waste as opposed to DC inputs.
LED fan power supply systems are regulated by fuses to avoid overloading or sudden power surges which are dangerous. The control panel of the fan also has power regulating mechanisms that limit accidents.
Power that is fed to an LED fan is responsible for triggering the motor, and also lighting up the LED semiconductors. However, this does not mean that the fan will consume too much energy since LEDs are generally known for their energy-saving capabilities.
When the electric motor is spinning, it tends to produce some noise. This noise depends on how powerful the motor is, the pressure, and the volume of its discharge. These noises can get as high as 120 decibels for high-functioning fans.
It would be quite unsettling to have your fan making noises inside the house. To counter this problem, fan manufacturers install a noise dampener inside the fan. This noise dampener works by absorbing the vibration that is causing the whirring noise. Dampening fan noise is not a default setting. It all depends on the type of fan and its uses.
Common features of an LED fan
An LED fan sticks out due to its features. If anything, its features are what define it. Most of the LED fans share similar features while some have unique features. Here are some of the common features you would expect to find in all types of LED fans.
Smart features of LED fans
Advancements in technology, specifically, IoT and interoperability, are responsible for the “smart revolution” which is happening across the globe. LED fans have joined the many smart home features and equipment that are used in modern homes.
Smart features in devices support autonomous operations, better connectivity, and overall improved performance. You have probably interacted with several smart devices — a good example is your smartphone.
An LED fan has several smart features. Some of the major ones include;
- Timer. An automated timer is part of the smart features of an LED fan. This timer can be programmed to turn on the fan during specific times of the day. This removes the hustle of having to locate the hand-held remote to control it. This particular feature applies mostly to ceiling LED fans.
- Sleep. While the timer indicates the specific time the fan will completely stop spinning, the sleep function gradually slows the spinning up until the time is up. This ensures that the fan does not stop spinning abruptly.
These smart features add to the already modified fan with LEDs. Subsequently, the combination results in a powerful device.
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control
LED fans have a predetermined rotation speed which is assigned an RPM value. This rate can be adjusted to go higher or lower depending on your needs. To facilitate this functionality, a controller known as PWM is installed on the fan.
This control mechanism can be used to increase the fan speed for more effective cooling or lower it for a more relaxed cooling. It all depends on the air quality, temperature, and other conditions of the space or equipment being cooled. Most modern fans have this functionality since they use AC current.
PC LED fans are among the types of fans that have this control mechanism. The CPU and GPU of high-performance computers need a lot of cooling for heavy-duty performance. Since the performance fluctuates, there is a need for a PWM controller to raise the speed when more cooling is needed and lower it when it’s not required.
Improved motors for reduced noise
While there are noise and sound dampeners, motors can also be improved to reduce the noise even further. Noise from the motor arises from the vibration of a loose stator core. It can also be a result of faulty internal components, like loose bearings.
Taking actions such as fastening the stator core, lubricating the bearings, and other components can be a solution for reduced noise. However, the better solution would be to engineer the motor so that these issues are non-existent in the first place.
Several motor manufacturers have invested in R&D efforts aimed at designing quieter motors, and some have yielded positive results. It turns out that increasing the thickness of the stator back iron is effective at reducing motor noise.
Technically, a thicker back iron leads to increased magnetic path length. What this does is improve the efficiency of the magnet circuit of the rotor. The more the magnetic field is contained, the lesser the loss of magnetic flux and reduced interference of the electromagnetism. It is quite a fascinating approach but quite effective.
Most of the features highlighted above are found in almost all modern fans, LED types included. As such, given that we have already covered the components of an LED fan, it would be repetitive to discuss them here again.
However, there are other features worth mentioning. To start with, LED fans enhance the interior decor of a space. This applies mainly to LED ceiling fans. LEDs, specifically RGB lights, produce colorful lights that make a space look better. Still, the regular LED bulbs have enough light to illuminate a space adequately.
Features such as the length of the blade, number, and type of motor are also seen in LED fans. These features control some functionalities and the overall look of the motor. The important thing to keep in mind is that features will vary depending on the manufacturer and the type of fan.
Functions of LED fans
Much like regular fans, LED fans are manufactured with a major goal — to facilitate a faster rate of air circulation, thereby providing cool air. However, thanks to the addition of special features, these fans can achieve more than just cooling air. Let us learn more about some of these functions of LED fans.
In the HVAC industry, a fan is one of the equipment used for ventilation purposes. It is used in areas where moderate cooling is required. In more demanding situations or conditions, air conditioners are used.
Cooling is a process whereby the heat from the air. Technically, it is the transfer of thermal energy from a region where it is highly saturated to a lower state. Fans are capable of causing a cooling effect in several ways. However, you might be surprised to learn that fans do not cool the air. Rather, they facilitate the circulation of air, expelling hot air and allowing in cooler air.
The rotation of the fan blades increases the airflow current in the target area. Since hot air is heavier than colder air, it is easily blown away. This leaves room for the denser and colder air to occupy the space.
Fans can serve an aesthetic appeal on top of their main function. Aesthetics, or beautification, is the addition of elements that showcase art. In your home, you probably have a few elements that are considered art. LED fans can be used as such elements.
LED message fans are primarily made as art. They can have functional purposes such as showing time, but the main agenda is usually art.
For an LED fan to be used for aesthetics, it has to have particular features. One of these features is having LED chips attached to the blades. The LEDs also have to be programmable for certain artistic impressions to work.
The advertising industry keeps looking for innovative and effective strategies to reach diverse audiences. If you have walked into large malls and exhibitions, you must have noticed the diverse ways brands are using to advertise their products and services.
Advertising using LED fans is quite common. For one, there are many types of LED fans that can be used for these specific operations.
The most common type of LED fan used for advertising is the 3D hologram fan. It looks more like the giant version of the smaller LED message fans. The 3D hologram fans are used by big brands to act as signage in open spaces. They are programmed to show specific information to prospective clients. This form of marketing is quite effective, especially in places where there are huge groups of people converging.
Here is another industry that is reaping big from the benefits of LED fans. Entertainment is characterized by upbeat themes, which are products of colorful lights, music, and other essential elements.
LED fans can be used to cool and entertain crowds on hot days. This leads to brightly colored areas as well as cooled. For instance, you might find large 3D holographic fans being used as backdrops for a stage and events. This form of entertainment is unique and hence captivating, a key engagement factor.
Types of LED fans
Throughout the article, we have named a few examples of LED fans. However, we have not quite explained them. In this section, we will cover these types of fans and how they are used.
This type of LED fan is quite common. If anything, it is the umbrella term for other types such as LED PCs and message fans. However, you will find LED fans are not LED messages or PC fans. They will be manufactured with the inclusion of LED strips along the fan blades. These blades are then lighted depending on the specific use case.
LED message fan
This might be the most common type of LED fan in the market, after the LED ceiling fan. They are programmable and small in size. In most cases, they are considered toys and are bought for desktop additions. You will find that most of these fans are lowly priced and have subpar components. In that case, their lifespan is short.
3D LED holographic fans
Holography is a technique that recreates images from light beams. This method reconstructs 3D images when the blade with the LED strip is spun. Its working principle is closely related to the LED message fan.
These types of LED fans create an immersive image. Dimensionality helps create an illusion of an image with depth. As such, it can be used for product displays, among other types of marketing advertisements.
PC LED fan
Personal computers (PCs), particularly desktop computers, can be equipped with LED fans to use as cooling mechanisms. Cooling PCs is essential for high-performance computers. It helps reduce the overheating caused by too much RAM usage.
PC LED fans are small in size but quite efficient. However, it is worth noting that the LED in these fans is merely for decoration purposes. They are equipped with LED strips that light up in different ways when the fans are working. There is a collective notion that LED light improves productivity and evokes certain moods. Thus, PC LED fans can motivate someone to work harder.
LED ceiling fan
This type of LED fan has two functionalities — lighting and air circulation. Fans used to come equipped with lights still. However, the old lighting bulbs used to add heat into the already hot air, hence increasing the cooling cycle of the fan.
LEDs provide cleaner light, less heat, and brighter light. This coupled with functionalities such as PWM control and modern components makes LED ceiling fans worthwhile.
Benefits of an LED fan
LED technology by itself is quite beneficial. When coupled with essential equipment such as a fan, the benefits become even better. Some of these benefits include;
If you are looking for an integrated lighting and cooling system, an LED ceiling fan should be among your top priorities. The lighting component of an LED fan can serve a functional or decorative purpose. Functional purpose is particularly seen in LED ceiling fans, while other types such as PC LED and message fans are used for decorative purposes.
LEDs are known to be energy efficient in many ways. For instance, they do not produce a lot of heat which is known to contribute to energy waste. This type of efficiency is what an LED fan provides.
These types of fans will function optimally and still manage to consume less energy than their counterparts. Not to mention that they are powering the fan motor and the LED lights at the same time. This is peak efficiency.
The world is moving towards automation, and there is a need for more smart devices. LED fans are some of the frontiers in this space. Smart features are future-proof. This means that as technology improves, LED fans with smart features will keep getting better. Users will have more control over functionality and other elements of the devices.
Superior features to regular fans
While you might find far superior regular fans, LED fans are generally better. Features such as lighting, power efficacy, and speed control are enough to declare them superior.
Regular fans can be described as conventional fans that have poor motors and blades that are not improved according to research on air circulation. These fans will struggle to cool spaces properly when compared to LED fans. Therefore, they can be considered inferior.
With constant innovation, LED fans are poised to get better with time. Most of the features, benefits, and functions we have discussed in this article will be considered basic in the next few decades. The knowledge you have gathered from this article has primed you for the next phase of innovation of the LED fan.