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How Airfoil Ceiling Fans Work To Move Air and Save Energy

MacroAir, the original developer of High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans, has long been perfecting their aerodynamic fan blade shape. This is much like how the aviation industry has continued to redesign the shape of airplane wings. The key to this design is the concept of the airfoil shape. In nature, the airfoil shape can be seen in a bird's wing or a dolphin's flipper. And in aviation, the airplane's wing has the same curved shape. This unique shape nurtures flight because the airfoil shape provides lifting force when air flows around it. An airfoil ceiling fan, likewise, provides the most effective airflow possible.

The Idea Behind the Ceiling Fan Blade Shape

Fan blade shape

Now, to the average person, a fan blade may seem like a simple design, but it actually takes a great deal of planning and design knowledge to fabricate. Especially a blade that moves air as cleanly and efficiently as the MacroAir models. 

The HVLS fan was developed by MacroAir in 1998 as a way of helping dairy farmers cool animal stalls. However, in 2006, MacroAir engineers decided they could make the fan technology even more efficient. So, led by MacroAir’s co-founder, Walter Boyd, the team of MacroAir engineers set out to redesign the fan blades using aerodynamic technology. This led to the development of the WhisperFoil fan, equipped with six airplane-wing-shaped blades, made using aerodynamical technology engineered by NASA.

The aerodynamic technology designed by NASA for airplane wings is now integrated into each MacroAir ceiling fan blade. MacroAir, the original developer of the NASA-inspired airfoil blade shape, took several years to perfect the HVLS fan blades. Today, they continue to strive to bring cutting-edge technology and engineering to you in each fan they build. 

Engineers Behind Airfoil Shaped Ceiling Fans

HVLS fan blade shape

Walter Boyd, the co-founder of MacroAir, is a race car driver. He was aware that the airfoil-shaped wing on the back of race cars produced downward force. That downward force increases traction for the cars, even at relatively low speeds. Airfoils have a thicker, rounded leading edge (front), and a thinner trailing edge (back). Both the top and bottom of an airfoil shape are curved. However, there is more curve at the top and less curve at the bottom. Air flows faster over the top than the bottom. That means there is less air pressure above than beneath the airfoil-shaped wing, which causes lift. When you apply the same principle to a fan, the airfoil shape causes the air to go down. But how efficiently the process works is where science and engineering come in.

MacroAir's engineers studied the blade's shape, size, and length, along with the angle of attack and speed of the fan. They also studied the density of the air in order to perfect the blade design. For example, MacroAir understands that airplanes designed for low-speed flight have a different airfoil shape than airplanes designed for faster speed. They realized that longer, more slender wings like those on a sailplane are much more efficient at creating lift without very much drag. In addition, straight wings are found mostly on smaller, lower-speed planes. MacroAir's long, slender, straight, airfoil-shaped blades are a reflection of all the above considerations. That's part of what makes MacroAir fans the premium HVLS fan design it is. 

MacroAir Design and Specifications

Airfoil ceiling fan

It is no accident that MacroAir's sleek, long, slender fan blades resemble the wings of a plane. The purpose of the ongoing redesign using proven aero dynamical engineering specifications was to dramatically increase the air moving efficiency and lower energy consumption.

The key element in the efficiency of the MacroAir fan lies in the airfoil fan blade design. Basically shaped just like an airplane wing - long and hollow. This hollow blade makes the fan lighter than it would normally be for its size, adding to overall energy efficiency. The airfoil blades are fabricated out of anodized aluminum, which makes the fans incredibly durable and easy to maintain.

The durable aluminum blades produce the same amount of air volume and air movement as their predecessors. However, they only require about 60% of the energy, making them an extremely energy-efficient solution. The design also requires less torque to move, thereby giving the fan a longer life span.

Airfoil Blade Design Benefits

The Benefit of Extreme Airflow

Airfoil blades in barns

It has taken relentless research and a great deal of testing to get a final MacroAir fan blade. The fan is cost-effective, highly reliable, and high performing. In addition, every MacroAir fan on the market today uses world-class components. They are made with such precision that this pristine HVLS fan earned the Air Movement and Control Association certification (AMCA certification).

It is the unique airfoil design of the blade that provides an average air speed of 3-7 mph, allowing the HVLS fan to create a column of air, sending it downward in a 360-degree radius towards the walls, then moving it back up to the ceiling through the fan blades again (known as floor jet circulation). This air circulation cools large spaces by constantly circulating the air and comfortably cooling the people in the room. Running a MacroAir fan can effectively lower the perceived room temperature by at least 8°F. People will definitely feel the difference. 

The Benefit of Energy Efficiency 

Gym fan blades

HVLS fans have always been a cost-effective way of heating and cooling business locations. The energy-efficient fans only require about 1 hp to run and cost as little as 0.05 cents per hour. This adds up to value you can bank on. Running fans also save you money on traditional AC and heating costs, as these sources do not need to be used as frequently.  

Bottom Line

Our family of innovators and tinkerers at MacroAir have long been perfecting their aerodynamic fan blade shape. We know that blade shape is key to peak performance and optimal comfort. The key to this design is the airfoil blade shape. The airfoil shape is designed for flight, just like the airfoil ceiling fan blade is designed for the most effective airflow possible.


To learn more about the effective airflow of MacroAir’s premium HVLS fans and the difference they can make to your space, visit our website today.