An optimized and fully-functional warehouse is a vital cog in the daily operations of most modern businesses, and thus it is critical for business owners and facility managers to eliminate any potential obstruction which threatens to disrupt the smooth functioning of their warehousing facility. Even though certain factors such as climatic or weather conditions are beyond the direct control and purview of business owners, it is possible to brace your business by equipping it with the right appliances and amenities.
Businesses based out of the United States and Canada face many warehousing challenges since the region experiences extreme temperatures throughout the year. Specifically, humidity is a key concern for most business owners in the summer, whereas thermal stratification is an omnipresent problem in the winter season.
On the face of it, these factors may seem inconsequential, but in reality, these factors can have a considerable impact on the quality and integrity of your products, the morale of your workforce, and the performance levels of your business. For instance, if your product inventory consists of fragile or perishable products, then condensation caused by humidity and stagnant air in the summer can cause great damage to your inventory. Additionally, a pleasant and conducive internal environment is intrinsically linked to the performance levels of your employees, as academic research suggests that harsh temperatures can drastically affect their productivity. Thus, the importance of an optimally functioning warehouse facility cannot be overstated, and neglecting it may affect the profitability of your business.
Fortunately, most of the problems stated above can be simply solved by improving the overall level and quality of airflow in your warehouse facility. Achieving effective airflow control will result in the reduction of moisture-induced damage, lower power bills, and increased employee convenience and comfortability.
However, before understanding how you can improve the airflow in your company’s warehouse, it is important to understand how air flows within an industrial or warehousing facility.
The general airflow in a warehouse
Air, like all other gasses, functions on the basic principle of moving from a region of high pressure to a region of low pressure. It is also imperative to understand that temperature and pressure share a directly proportional relationship, and therefore the temperature of an airstream essentially decides the pressure it can exert. This means that in the context of buildings, a pressure differential between the indoor and outdoor environments essentially decides the direction in which air flows.
The ‘stack effect,’ ‘reverse stack effect,’ and thermal stratification
Warm or humid air tends to rise since it is less dense than cold or dry air, and in buildings, this creates an effect known as the ‘stack’ effect, wherein cooler air streams tend to settle down near the base of a building, and warmer air tends to get trapped in its topmost region.
In winter, this phenomenon can be particularly bothersome as, in addition to warmer air getting trapped near the ceiling, the lower pressure zone created by colder airstreams near the base of the floor invites outside air to move into your warehouse, thereby lowering the overall indoor temperature of your warehouse.
In summer, the ‘reverse stack effect’ is observed, wherein hot air enters a building’s upper region and creates a downward airflow which threatens to disrupt the pleasant environment created by your building’s air-conditioning system.
Furthermore, the natural occurrence of air getting divided into distinct and separate layers on the basis of their respective temperatures is known as thermal stratification.
The role of conventional ventilation systems and appliances
As can be surmised from the above-stated information, ventilation systems and appliances can play a critical role in regulating airflow and preventing the creation of oppressive internal environments. In summer, air-conditioners work on the principle of displacing warm airstreams with cooler air streams until a pleasant internal atmosphere is created. Conversely, in winter, heating systems create a warm and cozy internal environment by displacing cold air through the introduction of hot air.
However, a warehouse facility is generally a vast, expansive space with a lofty ceiling, which can be used to store large-scale machinery and extensive product inventories. Comprehensively equipping such a facility with air-conditioners can be a prohibitively expensive operation in short as well as long-term as keeping air-conditioners switched on round the clock will inevitably lead to exorbitant power bills.
Therefore, ancillary appliances which can decrease the load on your HVAC system are quintessential requirements of today’s warehouses. For instance, ancillary appliances such as exhaust fans and intake fans can play their part in lowering the pressure on your HVAC system.
However, conventional fans generally fare poorly in warehouses due to the fact that these fans are designed for modest, residential spaces. Conventional fans such as ceiling fans, table fans, wall-mounted fans, or pedestal fans work on the principle of supplying cool air in rapid bursts to the regions in the immediate vicinity of the fan blades, making them ill-equipped to deal with the demands of industrial settings. Moreover, due to their limited scope of influence, these fans are ineffective at thermal destratification as well as regulating airflow efficiently in a warehouse.
Therefore, business owners must seek to invest in products that are appropriate for the scale of their operations, such as industrial ceiling fans. These fans are heavy-duty, industry-grade appliances specifically designed to meet the typical challenges put forth by large-scale commercial or industrial setups.
Industrial ceiling fans are generally of two types; centrifugal fans and axial fans. The two fan types differ on the basis of their operational principle, but both types are suitable for industrial purposes. However, one of the key aspects which tilt the vote in favor of axial fans is the amount of noise emitted by the two fan types during their operation, as centrifugal fans rely on the principle of rapidly ‘blowing’ air at 90° to the movement of the blades; a process which emits a constant whirring sound. This may seem like a small concern at first, but various studies have indicated that noise can affect an individual’s intellectual and physical output. As can be inferred from the above-stated information, this undesirable noise can affect the performance levels of your employees and consequently impact your business’ output.
The solution: HVLS fans!
HVLS fans or high-volume, low-speed fans are axial industrial ceiling fans that are typically characterized by the presence of sizable fan blades that can range from 8ft to 24ft in diameter. HVLS fans pull air streams towards their central axis and streamline them laterally to the axis. The fans’ huge blades then introduce a voluminous column of air into your warehouse’s environment with each rotation. This column of air is directed towards the floor of your warehouse and carries sufficient momentum to disrupt any thermally stratified layers of air that may be present.
In summer, HVLS fans ensure a steady flow and circulation of air in your warehouse’s environment and create a gentle, cool breeze which can be a welcome break from the draining humidity for your employees. In fact, HVLS fans can lower the effective temperature of your warehouse facility by as much as 15°F. Additionally, the routine removal of humidity from your warehouse’s internal environment also reduces the scope of mold or bacteria growth and safeguards your product inventory.
Moreover, HVLS fans can play a pivotal role in winter, too, as these fans are adept at freeing up the warmer air that gets lodged in the space between the roof of your facility and the fan’s blades. The fan’s blades then re-introduce these warmer layers of air in the form of large air columns, which mix with the colder, denser layers of air to form a more temperate internal atmosphere.
Furthermore, HVLS fans can combine exceptionally well with your facility’s pre-installed air-conditioning, ventilation and heating systems to create a safer, healthier atmosphere for your products and employees. HVLS fans can alleviate the load and duress your air-conditioning or heating systems are placed under by creating a milder internal environment, which allows those systems to work less rigorously.
Additionally, owing to the huge size of their fan blades, even a few HVLS fans can replace several conventional fans whilst offering better performance and higher energy efficiency. To put it in perspective, one HVLS fan can adequately service the same area as 28 conventional ceiling or table fans, thanks to its powerful motor and large fan blades.
Despite possessing a vastly powerful motor, the slow rotational speed of an HVLS fan’s blades lets it perform almost silently, a distinct departure from the audible whir caused by the conventional ceiling fan’s motion. HVLS fans are also significantly energy-efficient as they can use up to 30-70% less power than conventional fans. However, it must be noted that the initial cost of investment in an HVLS fan is higher than that of conventional ceiling fans, but the fan’s exceptional operation capabilities, coupled with its lower maintenance costs and high long-term cost-efficiency, make it a worthy investment.
Equipping a warehouse with HVLS fans is a task that requires considerable expertise and knowledge, as unplanned or improper installation by inexperienced technicians can result in significant overhead expenses for your company and also disrupt your daily operations.
Our team here at Refresh Fans is composed of experienced professionals who are committed to understanding your warehouse’s air circulation and ventilation requirements and helping you optimize it for the benefit of your employees and business.
Get effective consultation from our air circulation and ventilation experts by contacting us today.