Those who live in Pakistan know the feeling of sitting through a hot summer afternoon without electricity. This is often accompanied by a dysfunctional Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which further deteriorates the situation.
However, the latest technology in ceiling fans promises to not only reduce the running cost of the device but also provide a system whereby the fan may be directly powered from an alternative energy source.
Dr. Tauseef Tauqeer is the Head of Department for Electrical Engineering at Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore. He started working on this project with the help of his Research Associate, Afnan Ansari, while Dr. Tauqeer was the Head of Department of Power, Electronics and Control at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST). They continued their research after shifting to ITU and made their final model of the technology behind energy efficient fans. They have now received their first order of 1000 pieces for an industry in Pakistan.
This new technology for fans incorporates a feature called the Brushless DC (BLDC) drive which consumes less power than the fans traditionally installed in houses. Currently, ceiling fans use up 80-100 watts of electricity, whereas this technology promises to consume only 32 watts, without compromising on the speed and air delivery of the fan. This significant difference in the watts used by both fans translates into a marked decrease in electricity bills of a household.
Read more: Diversifying the Energy Basket
The electricity in Pakistan suffers from periods of sags and swells, which means the the voltage is either too high or too low than the desired 230 Volts that should be supplied at all times. Apart from affecting the performance of fans, these sags and swells may also damage the appliance, sometimes beyond repair. However, the technology used in this energy efficient fan maintains the nominal voltage level irrespective of the voltage being supplied by the main grid, therefore providing optimum performance throughout the day.
This fan requires a battery bank, which is already installed in houses with a UPS. The battery bank is charged through the main grid which makes the fan work during power outages. Houses without a UPS can purchase a small battery separately and directly attach it to the fan. If customers incur the one time cost of a solar panel for their homes, the battery can also be charged by the solar panel, which further reduces electricity bills as the pressure is alleviated from the main grid.
“Our main competitors are chinese fans which have similar features and technology,” says Dr. Tauqeer. “But they are much more expensive and are not customized according to our region. As a result, their air delivery is less and the size is smaller.”
Ansari further explains that these chinese fans cannot be repaired locally unlike the fans using their technology, which has not only been manufactured with parts available in Pakistan but is also repairable in the local market.
Currently, the chinese fans cost PKR 10,000-12,000, while this new variant costs approximately PKR 5000. To be of the highest quality, a fan’s service value must be more than or equal to 4.0 m3/min. Fans using the BLDC technology developed by the ITU duo exceeds that amount and equals 4.6 m3/min.
“If Pakistan’s manufacturing industry starts making fans with this technology, more than 1000 GWh energy can be saved per year, which is 3.5% of domestic use currently,” says Ansari.