What does a fan regulator do?
From Superfan, India’s first super energy efficient ceiling fan
Regulators, as the name suggests, regulate or control the speed of the fan motor. They have been around since the 1950s, and there are a few types of them.
These are the box type regulators, found in many old building and homes. It has a wire wound resistor with different contact points as the speed positions, with each contact point corresponding to a resistance value. The presence of resistance reduces the voltage supplied to the fan. In an AC induction motor, the input supply determines the speed so each contact point corresponding to a specific speed.
Since resistors are used, the input supply is limited to the fan and emitted as heat by the resistor. If more supply is limited, say at the first speed, the loss of the energy is significant. In general, the fan consumes the same energy at all speeds as the input supply is always the same, the unused supply is released as heat. Also, the size of these regulators is large!
Phase angle-controlled regulator
Phase angle-controlled regulators employ active semiconductor devices and are commonly known as dimmer switches. The voltage across the semiconductor device is varied to alter the voltage across the fan, eventually, speed is continuously varied.
When compared to resistive regulators, the power consumption is less but the phase-controlled regulators are expensive. Speed control is not linear and hence they produce humming noise while in operation. The failure rates are high, as active devices are susceptible to power supply transients. EMI/RFI interference in these regulators create disturbances in T.V. and radio sets.
An inductive type fan regulator has inductive reactance (inductive coil with various contact points) that is varied to achieve speed regulation. Similar to resistive type regulators, the inductive type regulators also contribute to power loss.
The speed of the fan decreases with the increase in the number of turns connected in the inductance coil winding. Heat and power loss are low in these regulators. The disadvantages are low power factor, cost, weight, and bulkiness.
Capacitive regulator or electronic regulators
They control the voltage across the fan is controlled by a capacitor, the voltage across the fan determines the fan speed. Capacitive regulators are energy efficient with linear speed control, quiet operation without humming noises and highly reliable than electronic type regulator. They are commonly found in two varieties:
- Movable type
- Step type
Regulator-less or remote-controlled ceiling fans
Regulators, in general, contribute to power loss by dissipating heat in the circuit. They may require a heatsink in the circuit because of the inefficiency. These disadvantages are overcome by BLDC ceiling fans like Superfan because the speed is regulation is integrated with the electronic commutation of the motor. This feature enables straightforward compatibility with remote control. So, in addition to the inherent energy and money savings of BLDC ceiling fans, there is extra energy and money savings by eliminating the need for regulators. And of course, gives an extra comfort of changing the speed without moving from the place.
When can you choose regulators over remote control?
Despite their disadvantages, regulator ceiling fans find applications in bulk installations like public places, industries and organizations, where remotes are hard to maintain. There are regulator models BLDC ceiling fans, Superfan BLDC ceiling fans have a separate regulator model catalogue.
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