Safe use of natural refrigerants with ebm-papst fans


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Author: ebm-papst Polska
Fans approved for use with A3 refrigerants according to EN 60335-2-40 are available in various axial and centrifugal versions

The f-gas law introduced in 2015 requires producers to use low GWP natural refrigerants – however, they are often flammable. This means that all components installed in, for example, heat pumps must meet the standards for flammable refrigerants. This also applies to the fans, which, moreover, should be as quiet and energy efficient as possible.

In the case of a low GWP value, the refrigerant must decompose quickly once released into the atmosphere. This means that it must be chemically reactive, and this property in turn is associated with a high degree of flammability. Therefore, when designing heat pumps, manufacturers must use components that meet applicable standards for handling flammable refrigerants.

In the case of fans that provide the necessary airflow through the evaporator of heat pumps, this means that their electronics cannot become an ignition source, even if they fail. Basically, this can be achieved in different ways. One method is to use enclosures that prevent the electronics from coming into contact with a flammable atmosphere. Another possibility is to use an additional smaller ATEX fan, which ensures reliable ventilation of the device. However, the principle of continuous ventilation is rarely used, for example in chillers. Most air to water heat pump manufacturers prefer to use components approved for use with flammable refrigerants.

Drive design conforms to EN 60335-2-40

Ebm-papst, specialist in motors and fans, offers an alternative to ATEX motors, specially designed for use in air/water heat pumps.

In the case of fan drives of sizes 55, 74 and 84, the electronic circuits have been modified to comply with EN 60335-2-40, which allows them to operate with natural refrigerants. Properly tested and certified electronic components ensure that their maximum surface temperature always remains below 370°C (according to standard requirements, it is 100°C lower than the medium flash point), even in the event of a breakdown , and so they will not become a source of ignition.

Ebm-papst offers these components in many variations, making them the most widely used solution for air-to-water heat pumps for outdoor and indoor use.

High energy efficiency and low noise emissions

Energy efficiency and noise are also important aspects when selecting fans for heat pumps. The fans are driven by modern EC motors in GreenTech technology. One of their characteristics is energy efficiency. Heat pumps must use as little primary energy as possible to generate the required heat output. The compressor consumes much more energy than the fan, but it is always beneficial to run it at its highest possible efficiency.

Another advantage is the sound emission characteristics of EC fans. This becomes particularly important at night, when the limits set by current legal regulations must be observed inside and – above all – outside the building. To minimize noise emissions, large fans should be operated at low speed if possible.

EC motors used in fans are easy to control, so at night you can easily reduce their rotation speed. For example, if reduced by as little as 100 rpm, noise can be reduced by more than half.

The proper interaction of the impellers or fan blades with the motor and electronics is another key part of quiet fan operation. Ebm-papst has optimized the geometry of the blades and impellers to achieve significant improvements in terms of aerodynamic efficiency and reduction of noise emissions. Psychoacoustic aspects have also been taken into account so that fan noise is as indifferent as possible to comfort. To ensure quiet operation, the fans can be combined with guide blades. FlowGrid reduces noise resulting from installation conditions. This ensures that the heat pumps operate silently at all times.

The range of fans meeting the standards for flammable refrigerants is constantly being expanded to find the right design for every performance class.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us directly: ebm-papst Polska Sp. zoo. ul. Annopol 4A, 03-236 Warsaw; phone: 22 675 78 19, e-mail:

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