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Shop fans

Because your farm shop
oftentimes serves as your home away from home, you want it to be cool in the
summer and warm in the winter. Keeping the air circulating provides benefits
beyond comfort.

“Using large-diameter,
low-speed fans improves not only occupant comfort but also ventilation and air
quality, while potentially reducing the heating costs of these buildings,” says
Adam Hatton, agriculture market specialist, Big Ass Fan Company. “Improving
your building with proper air movement helps maintain an efficient and
profitable operation.”

But more often than not,
this is one item that’s left off the schematics of a farm shop. “The fact that
fans are the easiest to eliminate is very real and, unfortunately, it happens
all the time,” says Steven Gagne, FarmTek sales manager. “Fans were inherently
designed for creature comfort, but they have added benefits when it comes to
farm shops.”


So why is a fan better than
simply opening a window to get air moving in the shop?

“Proper ventilation, either
natural or mechanical, is necessary for any building. However, simply opening a
window or rolling up doors will not provide adequate comfort if there is no air
moving through or within the building,” notes Hatton. “When used independently
of HVAC systems, fans aid where Mother Nature leaves off, helping to improve
ventilation effectiveness with soft, gentle breezes. Murphy’s Law says that the
day you need to repair your equipment will be the hottest day of the year with
no breeze outside!”

Shopping Tips

With so many options
available, what should you look for when considering a fan?

“There are so many roles
served by the typical farm shop and so many different types of fans available,”
comments Gagne. “Fans used in farm shops are determined by two things: the HVAC
systems used and how the building is used.”

But it’s also about quality
and durability. “As with all agriculture equipment, downtime can cost you
valuable time and money,” says Hatton. “Make sure the fans you ultimately go
with are designed and built for the application and have the ability to provide
years of benefit without concern of breaking down.”

Ask An Expert

Hatton also says it’s important
that you consider how the operation of the fan will complement the design and
function of your shop year-round. 

“Is summertime cooling
necessary while working on last-minute repairs? During winter months, will heat
destratification help while servicing and repairing equipment? Ideally, the air
movement system you install will provide year-round benefits with low
maintenance and low operating costs,” he notes.

While purchasing a fan out
of a catalog may seem like a quick fix at a low cost, you may not be getting
the best size, style, or type of fan for your facility. Speak to a
knowledgeable product specialist to ensure that the size and style of fan will
not interfere with the function of your shop and the work you need to perform.

One option is a ceiling fan
that recirculates air. It blends the warm air at the ceiling with the cooler
air at lower levels.


“As in industrial buildings,
heat rises in a farm shop. Assuming that insulation is at least adequate, it is
not unusual to see a farm building with ceiling temperatures reaching 20°F. to
30°F. warmer than floor temperatures,” says Gagne. “Using paddle or
high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans, this stratified heat can be gently pushed
back down to the floor and recycled, satisfying the thermostat and reducing the
call for additional forced air (mechanical) heating.”

When the furnace isn’t
cycling on and off as much, energy savings happen. In general, there can be a
1% savings per foot of ceiling height with savings up to 30%.

“The 56-inch, variable-speed,
moisture-resistant, industrial/agricultural-grade fans are common,” says Gagne.
Depending on the supplier, a good, moisture-resistant, industrial-type paddle
fan should cost between $90 and $250.

Gagne says HVLS fans – like
FarmTek’s 8- or 12-foot Altra-Air WhalePower products – are also popular and
commonly used in larger ag buildings for destratification and cooling. HVLS
fans can cost between $4,000 and $7,000 each, depending on diameter and
options. “Despite the initial product cost outlay, energy usage can actually be
less than multiple paddle fans, and payback is usually only a couple of years
at most and can last decades with proper care,” he says.

The most important aspect
that is frequently missed, Gagne says, is the cost savings associated with
ceiling fans used to supplement A/C performance or to destratify heat at the
ceiling level. “Payback is almost always two years or less, and most quality
fans will last 10 years and beyond,” he notes.

While height and the floor
area of the shop are important factors in sizing up a ceiling fan, there are
other variables to consider. Things like obstacles on the floor, activities
that are occurring, and the location of the shop.

“To properly size up the
needs of your shop, an in-depth look at all the variables is needed,” says
Hatton. “Look for well-built fans that have a strong warranty, such as the
Powerfoil X fan by Big Ass Fans. For these types of facilities and based on
size and model, our fans are priced between $2,000 and $6,000.”

But are ceiling fans right
for every corner of your shop, such as welding areas or near hazardous
materials? “Circulating the air within a shop can help dilute harmful fumes
inevitable when repairing equipment,” says Hatton.

You also want to make sure
airflow doesn’t interfere with the function and safety of the equipment or

“A gentle breeze from a
large-diameter ceiling fan will create the optimal cooling effect without
concern of blowing metal or wood shavings in an unpredictable and dangerous
manner,” says Hatton. “In some situations, we will specify our fans in places
like this to help mitigate and dilute fumes.

Where there is adequate
ventilation, we can increase the effectiveness and efficiency by up to 30%. A
trained factory representative can help ensure the right fan will do the

The chart at left provides
examples of industrial/agricultural-grade fans. 

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