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The Basics of Fan Performance Tables, Fan Curves, System Resistance Curves

and Fan Laws (FA!""#$$%

December 1st, 1999
Engineers and designers who select and specify fans should have a good basic knowledge of the
content of this article. An understanding of these subjects is vital for verifying the original fan
selection, trouble shooting after the installation, and understanding future fleibility.
Fan &erformance tables
!anufacturers typically publish catalogs containing performance or rating tables for each
specific fan si"e. #hese tables are printed in a compact format, showing only the minimum
information necessary to select a fan to match a desired performance. $erformance tables are
very easy to use for making an initial selection, and in most cases, only include stable operating
%ating tables are published in one of two basic formats arranged with pressure columns and rows
of either %$! or &'!. At the bottom of the table, (ualifying statements describe how the fan
was tested and what losses are included in the performance rating. )n many cases, these tables
also show sound ratings in either sones or *wA.
'sin( the Performance Tables
#he following is a portion of a typical performance table as published for low to medium
pressure fans. #his table is common to most centrifugal and aial fans used for roof mounting,
wall mounting and inline applications.
#o use the table, find the re(uired static pressure on the upper hori"ontal ais +eample .,-. /$0,
then read down the static pressure column and find the re(uired &'! +eample 1,-91 &'!0.
Directly below the &'! is the re(uired 12$ for that performance +eample 1.990. Also shown in
this eample is the sound rating for the selected performance +11.- sones0. %eading to the left of
the selected &'!, you will find the fan %$!, the motor si"e and the model identifier.
#he following performance table is typcial for higher pressure fans, such as housed centrifugal
fans. #here are individual tables for each fan si"e and wheel type. )n most cases, these tables will
have shaded areas representing &lass ), )) and ))) %$! limits. #o use this table, find the re(uired
&'! along the left vertical ais +eample 13,444 &'!0, then move hori"ontally to the right to
the re(uired static pressure column +eample 5.44 /$0. At this intersection, you can read both the
fan %$! and the 12$ +eample 16-- %$! and 15.7 12$0. 8otice these points are located on
the lightly shaded portion of the table, indicating that a &lass )) fan is re(uired.
9ith the use of electronic fan selection programs the trend is to further reduce the amount of
printed data and to print only a range of performance for each fan si"e. #here:s little doubt that a
good electronic selection program such as &A$/ can pinpoint a precise selection with minimal
)t:s also becoming common to see fan performance curves +actually a family of %$! curves0
covering the full range of performance printed on the same or adjacent page to the performance
table. #his format provides a (uick snapshot of the total capabilities of one given fan model and
si"e. *ocate the desired flow along the ;ais and the specified pressure on the left y;ais. At the
point of intersection, you can determine the approimate 'an %$! re(uired. #o find the motor
si"e re(uired, move upward to the closest 2$ line +dotted line0. <ou can (uickly review charts for
several different fan si"es to determine the most desirable selection.
Fan Curves
=ne of the most valuable pieces of information
supplied by fan manufacturers is the fan
performance curve. &urves are normally supplied
for each specific fan on a given project. #hese
curves show the relationship between the (uantity
of air a fan will deliver and the pressure generated
at various air (uantities. #he curves also show
horsepower for a given (uantity of flow.
'igure 1 represents the performance for a given fan
si"e and %$!. #he flow scale is presented along the ;ais. #he pressure scale is presented along
the left y;ais. 'ind the re(uired &'! and move vertically to the /$ curve. %ead hori"ontally to
the left to read the pressure at that flow.
'igure 6 illustrates the effects of speed change. According to the fan laws, &'! varies directly
with %$!. #he result of reducing the speed is a similar curve in a lower position. )ncreasing
speed results in a similar curve in a higher position.
'igure , illutrates the addition of the 12$ curve. #he power scale is presented along the right y;
ais. 'ind the volume on the /$ curve and move vertically to the 12$ curve. At this intersection,
move hori"ontally to the right;hand scale to read the 12$ at that flow.
#he curve shapes in figures 1;, are typical of centrifugal wheels. =ther impeller types have both
fan and power curve shapes that vary from those shown. 2owever, the principle of reading the
curves is the same.
System Resistance Curves
/ystem resistance curves are a graphical representation of how a
system reacts to a given airflow. #he system resistance is the sum
of all pressure losses through the duct, all elbows, filters,
dampers, coils and any other device that resists flow.
'igure 3 shows that the system curve always starts at the origin
where flow and pressure are "ero. #he fan will operate at the
point where the system resistance curve intersects the fan curve.
'or a constant system, with no change in damper settings, etc.
the pressure at a given flow varies as the s(uare of the airflow.
#he only time the shape of the system resistance curve changes
is when the system physically changes. 'or instance, if a damper
is opened, the system resistance is reduced. #he result is a lower
pressure drop. &losing a damper, or when filters become dirty,
increases the systems resistance.
'igure . illustrates how the system resistance curve changes with a decrease or an increase in
resistance. #he new curve shows that as the systems resistance changes, so does the air volume
the system pressure at a constant fan %$!.
'igure 5> is a sample print;out from ?reenheck:s &A$/ program for a specific fan selection. #his
illustrates the fan curve, the 12$ curve, the system design curve, plus a fan surge curve. 'an
selection close to, or to the left of the surge curve, is not recommended. %eferring to this surge
curve aids the designer in selecting fans that are stable and will not go into surge with a minor
change to the system.
9e have learned that a fan curve is the series of
points at which a given fan model and si"e can
operate at a constant %$!. #he system resistance
curve is the series of points at which the system
can operate. #he operating point is where these
two curves intersect. Any changes to the fan %$!
will cause the point of operation to move along
the system curve and changes to the system
resistance will cause the point of operation to
move up or down the fan curve.
Fan Laws
=ur net step is to understand fan laws. 'an laws, can be used to accurately predict changes
+assuming the fan diameter and air density are constant0.
Fan law e)uations
/ubscript 1> Describes the eisting conditions
/ubscript 6> Describes the new conditions
#he following eample is typical of how the fan laws are applied>
A fan installed in a fied system is operating at>
&'! @ 14,444
/$ @ 1..4A
12$ @ ..44
%$! @ 1,444
9hat %$! is re(uired to move 6.B more air +16,.44 &'!0 through this systemC
8=#E> <ou can view this eample as either the installation now desires more air than planned,
or the balancing report showed 6.B less air than specified.
By rearran(in( the cfm fan law*
The corres&ondin( static &ressure is*
The resultin( B+P is*
According to the fan laws, in order to use
the original fan, the speed must be
increased from 1444 %$! to 16.4 %$!,
the motor must be changed from a . 2$ to
14 2$.
'igure - illustrates fan curves for both the
original and new fan performance.
)mportant> &heck to make sure that the new %$! does not eceed the maimum allowable %$!
for the eisting fan. !aimum %$!s are shown in fan catalogs. <ou should consult the fan
manufacturer for additional information or if you would like to review the application.
!ore detailed information on these subjects can be found in both A!&A and A/2%AE