Improving indoor air quality

Features - Air quality

High-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans circulate massive amounts of air, cost-effectively improving worker safety and comfort.

October 3, 2019

A high-volume, low-speed fan with blades as long as 24ft moves air at a Tennessee automotive facility.
Photo courtesy of Hunter Industrial Fans

The indoor air quality of large manufacturing plants sets the tone for the workforce – creating a safer work environment, improving employee comfort and productivity, and streamlining energy efficiency. However, managing air quality can be difficult.

Adding high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans can optimize comfort and health while boosting heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) efficiency. Unlike conventional exhaust fans or high-speed floor fans, HVLS fans mobilize and de-stratify large volumes of air throughout the facility.

Safety benefits

Indoor air quality refers to the air quality within and around the buildings and structures of a facility, particularly relating to the health and comfort of building occupants. Poor air quality – excesses of hot or cold air, indoor pollutants, or stagnant air – can cause labored breathing and illness.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) highlighted these dangers in their heat safety campaign and winter weather advisory, linking cases of employees’ cold stress and heat exhaustion to extreme air temperatures and/or humidity levels (see sidebar).

To increase air circulation and improve air quality, HVLS fans provide large-scale airflow that regulates temperature and prevents stagnant air and dust. High air turnover also eliminates toxic airborne chemicals and decreases moisture that may form on factory floor walls and equipment. Proper indoor air movement can quickly dry condensation to reduce fall risks, pollutants, and bacteria associated with unchecked moisture.

Industrial ceiling fans also eliminate trip hazards – an essential factor considering many plant and facility managers identify cords as top workplace hazards. HVLS fans with direct-drive motors are maintenance free, reducing the risk of oil leaks posed by traditional gearbox motors.

Comfort, productivity

Worksite comfort communicates that companies value employees’ health and workplace experiences and provides an optimal environment that feeds productivity. By creating a more comfortable, healthier work environment, companies have reported reduced absenteeism and employee complaints coupled with boosts in overall productivity.

In one instance, an automotive shop in Tennessee had been relying on the weather to determine the length of the workday. The brutal Tennessee summer often forced team members to start their workdays early in the morning and end early in the afternoon. The owner installed a 14ft HVLS industrial ceiling fan with a 2ft rigid mount powered by a 110V input, which generates a consistent breeze throughout the warehouse.

“The fan is centered over the primary work area, but you can feel the cool air circulating in the far corners of the facility,” says facility owner Hal Musler. “It only took two hours to install the fan, and since it works with our available 110V power supply, it was up and running in no time.”

Musler’s team now works a full day without cutting hours short due to facility temperature.

Operational Improvements

Designed with 7ft to 24ft blade lengths, HVLS fans move large volumes of air with minimized energy consumption per square foot. One HVLS fan can mobilize as much air as 10 to 20 floor fans or twelve 48" barrel fans. HVLS fans typically cost less than $1 per day to operate. Some HVLS fans have gearbox motors while others have direct-drive motors, which generate significantly less noise, require less maintenance, and are lighter.

Investments in air quality can radically transform a company’s wellness standards while boosting its bottom line. HVLS fans offer a comprehensive solution to improve workforce health and safety conditions.

Hunter Industrial Fans

About the author: Mark D’Agostino is senior vice president and general manager of Hunter Industrial. He can be reached at 844.592.3267.