When covering the sustainability journey of a company like Big Ass Fans, it quickly becomes apparently that the ‘sustainability journey’ is actually the journey of the company itself, and that as the company has refined its products, technology, and business over the years, all of these factors have combined to make all aspects of the company more sustainable.
“We started in agriculture, making enormous, seven metre diameter industrial ceiling fans,” explains Big Ass Fans’ Territory Sales Rep, Rebecca Steffanoni. “So we started off cooling cows so they could produce more milk. And we’ve just extended that to solutions for human productivity and lots more as we moved into commercial and residential spaces.”
“By its very nature our product is sustainable,” explains Rebecca. “We supplement or replace air conditioning, which is an incredibly energy-intensive means of cooling. With a fan, you’re becoming more energy efficient, and reducing your costs at the same time.”
Efficiency gains and cost reduction are core to the Big Ass Fans offering, particularly in an industry which is not particularly renowned for innovation. “Ceiling fans haven't really changed for about 100 years. They are an existing technology that we’re familiar with in terms of how they operate and what the effects are,” explains Rebecca. “Traditional fans have lots of moving parts that generate heat and tend to rattle and shudder. But we’ve aimed to change that.”
The solution is a high torque, direct-drive magnetic motor. “The motors in our fans have few moving parts,” says Rebecca. “That means there’s very little heat generation, and because of the permanent magnets, they’re virtually silent. The blades are shaped differently - rather than flat panels, they’re aerodynamic which means they move more freely and can shift large volumes of air.
The net result of this is an incredibly efficient fan. “Conventional fans start around 90 watts,” explains Rebecca. “Whereas our fans start at 2 watts, and the maximum wattage for our standard fans is 30 watts. So just consider that in comparison to a standard 60 watt light bulb for example. The energy savings are huge - and from a cost perspective, if you ran the fan 24/7 for a year, you’d be looking at about $24.”
And while the company remains firmly on this journey towards better energy efficiency, there’s definitely still some industry education to do. “In many circumstances the industry still commonly works to templates, and air conditioning checks the boxes. So there’s plenty of room there to engage with the industry and show them that you can still achieve thermal comfort, but with greater efficiency and less cost,” says Rebecca. “And ultimately, that’s good for the industry, it’s good for the occupants, but most importantly, it’s good for the environment.
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