When it comes to industrial fans, you’ll always have a choice among several options. But when selecting fans for a variety of industries — including those for use in mines, factories, and commercial buildings — two of the most popular types are axial and radial.
Not only are axial and radial fans the most applicable across a broad range of industries, but they’re also the two most common types of fans available today on the market.
Industrial Fans: Understanding The Difference Between Axial and Radial Fan
So what type of fan — axial or radial — is better for your application? Neither is a bad choice, but there are situations when one should be selected over the other. Hence, choosing the right type of fan often comes down to factors such as air displacement, volume, and even blade type. This post will take a closer look at the basics, key differences, and advantages and disadvantages of both axial and radial fans.
If you’ve ever lived in a home without air conditioning or slept in a loft that required a bit more air circulation to promote a comfortable environment, the portable fan that you set up to help cool the area is likely an axial fan.
Axial fans got their name for the way the fan blades operate — rotating around an axis and thereby pushing air out in a way that’s parallel to the axis. The example that we used above is common in household and small industrial settings. However, axial fans can be made much larger, suitable for factories and underground mining operations.
Axial fans are frequently used when there’s a need for a large volume of air. Though axial fans do a nice job achieving this goal, it’s fairly low-pressure air and not highly concentrated to a certain area.
Also known as “centrifugal fans,” radial fans don’t pull air parallel to the axis as axial fans do. Instead, they move air from the center, radially — hence their name. To create the air, radial fans first pull it into the fan. This is often done via a side intake, which varies based on how the size of the fan.
A simple example of a centrifugal fan is a small “blower” fan, used in residential and commercial environments to quickly dry damp areas of the building or areas with water damage.
Though the volume of these types of fans is usually less than that of axial fans, the pressure is much greater. They’re also better able to directly target a specific area. Radial fans used in heavy industrial and mining environments are typically larger, drawing in the air via intakes and then running it through a series of ducts before it is dispersed.
Centrifugal fans may also be known as squirrel fans, squirrel cage fans, and air blower fans because of how they operate and how certain models look.
Which Is Best For Your Application? The Difference Between Axial and Radial Fans
The best way to decide which fan is right for your application is to take a deeper look at some of the key strengths and weaknesses of each.
When we talk about fan pressure, we’re referring to the type of air that it creates in a select area. Axial fans create low-pressure air, as the design of such fans allows these devices to distribute air somewhat evenly in a defined area.
Radial fans, conversely, generate high-pressure air. In other words, they’ll create a steady flow of air that can be used to target a concentrated area.
Axial fans distribute high volumes of air, just not high-pressure amounts of air. As stated previously, this makes them great for areas where large amounts of air displacement are necessary.
While radial fans generate high-pressure air, they don’t generate it in large volumes.
Generally, any appliance that is comprised of more working parts is going to consume a larger amount of energy to operate. This is the case with radial fans, which use intake to bring air into the fan, then centrifugal force to push it back out.
Because of the way that radial fans operate and the high pressure of air distributed, they use more energy to operate. Axial fans, conversely, don’t use as much energy and are usually a more sustainable option in industrial settings.
Axial fans are noisier than radial fans, which can be a factor in certain industrial environments.
Axial fans tend to operate with a great deal of turbulence, which puts an increased amount of wear and tear on the device. This can result in more maintenance or earlier replacement than radial fans over time.
Though many manufacturers will make fans based on consumer request, axial fans are more complex and portable than radial ones. Radial fans that are installed in industrial environments are typically very heavy, large and there to stay once they’re placed.
Choosing Between Radial and Axial Fans
Understanding the difference between axial and radial fans is critical in making the right choice for your application. Each type of fan has its fair share of benefits and drawbacks. You may find that a combination of each might suit your application the best.