Different Types of Exhaust Fans and Their Uses

Exhaust fans can be used in a building or vehicle to help improve indoor air quality by getting rid of unwanted dirty, humid, or stale air. As a fundamental appliance in many air systems, there are a lot of different types of exhaust fans available on the market. These will include different shapes and capabilities that are each suited to a different set of applications. By reading this short guide to the different types available, you can learn more about what to consider when choosing the right exhaust fan for a job.

Exhaust fans are components that are used to take out unwanted odors, moisture, smoke, and other particulates from the air. Though many variations exist, they generally work by sucking in stale air and releasing it outside so that new air may be brought in. This process helps ventilate a space to keep items in great condition, as humid air can cause furniture to warp or rot. Additionally, ventilation helps maintain a healthy indoor environment. For example, a home without proper ventilation can trigger or aggravate asthma and allergies.

As stated before, there are various options of exhaust fans which you can use in your operations. In general, they may be divided into two types based on their construction and the direction in which they exhaust air. First, there are axial fans which look much like propellers and draw air straight through the fan and out the other side. The name “axial” comes from the way that the air enters axially, or in a direction perpendicular to the axis of rotation. Conversely, there are fans which are centrifugal, meaning that they draw air into the center of the fan but exhaust it at a 90-degree angle.

When looking at the different options of axial fans, there are three basic types to consider: propeller, tubeaxial, and vaneaxial. Propeller fans are most commonly used for dilution ventilation or cooling, and are typically mounted in a wall or ceiling. Some very common examples are ceiling fans, free-standing room fans, and automobile radiator fans. With just a simple propeller, these fans can move large amounts of air if there is little resistance, but they are not suited for local exhaust ventilation because they do not provide enough suction to draw air through the system. Tubeaxial fans function very similarly with the use of a propeller fan. However, they are constrained within a cylindrical, tube-like structure. Lastly, vaneaxial fans are variations of the tubeaxial fans that have air straightening vanes added in front of or behind the propeller blades. 

As the name would imply, centrifugal fans employ a centrifuge, in this case, a hollow cylinder which spins rapidly to suck in air and push it to the outer diameter by way of centrifugal force. Centrifugal fans are organized by the type of fan blades they use, including forward inclined blades, backward inclined blades, and straight radial blades. Each of these types can operate against a high resistance and are frequently used in local exhaust ventilation systems. In particular, radial blade centrifugal fans are well suited for exhausting heavy amounts of dust because they are less likely to become clogged. Some common examples of centrifugal fans are those in a home furnace, vacuum cleaner, and hair dryer.

When selecting an exhaust fan for your system, it is important to consider the capabilities of each type. This information will often be included in the product description, but in general, axial fans are better suited for light applications where there is a small amount of dust or other particulates to remove. If the particulate load in the exhaust air is high, radial centrifugal fans are used. Additionally, for exhaust air that has explosive or flammable material, spark resistant construction should be used to conform to the standard of the National Fire Protection Association and provincial governmental regulations. Similarly, a fan with a protective coating or made of special materials may be employed if the exhaust air contains corrosive contaminants.

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