Back in the ‘70s, the Lotus F1 Team took the Formula One world by surprise as it utterly dominated every single race of the season. The situation came to such a head that some foul play was suspected and FIA, the regulatory body for the sport, sent out its inspectors to assess what sort of witchcraft had rendered the Lotus F1 cars undefeatable. As it turned out, Lotus boffins had discovered an aerodynamic trick known as the ground effect (or venturi effect), which in turn allowed their F1 cars to achieve the sort of cornering speeds that made them invincible on the track. It was then that the FIA came to terms with the profundity of aerodynamics and imposed restrictions and guidelines on its use, which are followed to this day.
In fact, aerodynamics doesn’t just benefit Formula One. At a speed of just 60 kmph, more than half of the fuel consumed in an automobile is spent to overcome wind resistance. Sound aerodynamic design, therefore, is one of the most significant factors behind the increased fuel efficiency of a modern automobile. What’s more, clever aerodynamics combined with the jet engine have changed the course of history by making air travel cheaper and thereby shrinking the world altogether. It must be amply clear by now that aerodynamics is one of the most important building blocks of modern engineering and continues to enrich human life.
Cutting Edge Technology in a Familiar Package
As I type this in my study, being forced to endure the excruciatingly annoying drone of a ceiling fan that generates more noise than airflow, it makes me think why no one has thought of applying these wonders of aerodynamics to ceiling fans yet. Except they have. Cue the Aeroquiet ceiling fan from Orient Electric, which is the leading domestic producer of all sorts of fans and happens to be a part of the $1.6 billion CK Birla Group. With that sort of funding, Orient Electric claims to have redefined the ceiling fan by infusing its age-old electromechanical underpinnings with cutting-edge aerodynamics to achieve the holy trinity of enhanced power, silent operation, and maximum efficiency. Now, this sounds like a tall claim, especially in a space where the underlying technology has largely remained stagnant. I guess, there’s only one way to find out.
The Aeroquiet is the first offering in the Orient Aeroseries premium ceiling fans. As with all things aerodynamic, it looks anything unlike a regular ceiling fan. The seamless monolithic design lends it a strikingly sleek and sexy appearance. Despite its killer aesthetics, this is incredibly a case of form over function. Unlike the regular ceiling fan design, which invariably involves a central rotor hub housing a motor attached to distinctly discrete fan blades, the Aeroquiet seems to have the motor housing and the blades fused together seamlessly, with no visible joints and ugly exposed screws. This not only makes it look stunning, but it also effectively increases the surface area of the blades to enhance airflow. The chrome ring at the centre looks great surrounded by acres of premium white poly-urethane paint finish of the blades and the rotor. The downrod shares the same colour and paint finish quality of the main body, with the mounts and screws shrouded under premium quality plastic canopies.
Betting on Quality
It’s easy to tell that the Aeroquiet ceiling fan looks gorgeous from the pictures itself, but the real worth of its mechanical underpinnings can only be tested by getting your hands dirty. Thankfully, that’s what I’m here for. One of the quickest ways to gauge the quality of a ceiling fan is to pick up the rotor hub housing the motor and check its weight. The heavier it is, the better the quality of the fan. A good motor has plenty of high-purity copper windings and high-quality bearings, in addition to sturdy mounts made of heavier metal. This adds up to the weight. Not surprisingly, the Aeroquiet’s rotor hub was significantly heavier than that of the cheaper ceiling fan it replaced.
The weight of the motor stands testimony to the quality of components employed
Now, while regular fans save weight in the rotor hub at the cost of performance and reliability, they counterintuitively use heavier metal blades that sap power efficiency, reduce airflow, and increase operating noise. The fan blades on the Aeroquiet are made of tough ABS plastic compound reinforced with glass. This effectively allows the blades to be lightweight, spin fast, and draw less power. The ABS blades are also stiffer than metal blades leading to reduced flex and better, more streamlined airflow.
When Form Meets Function
How do these design and material enhancements translate into real world performance then? Quite remarkably well, to be honest. The Orient Electric Aeroquiet ceiling fan delivered a significantly increased amount of airflow than the year-old ceiling fan it replaced. To give you an example, the Aeroquiet provided stronger breeze at #2 speed on the regulator than my existing ceiling fan at the #3 speed. This isn’t surprising since the it delivers an airflow of 240 CMM (Cubic Metres per Minute) at 62 watts. That’s a whopping 55 percent more than standard ceiling fans, which can typically muster up only 155 CMM at 70 watts. In simple terms, it delivers better airflow while also being more power efficient.
Build quality is excellent with seamless design
All this is achieved while being significantly quieter. To put it into numbers, the Aeroquiet is 4dB quieter than regular ceiling fans. While that number may not sound impressive to a layman, let’s not forget that the decibel scale of sound measurement is logarithmic. In ordinary terms, a reduction of 3dB in noise levels translates to 100 percent reduction in sound energy. Therefore, a drop of 4dB is a revelation of sorts. To put this into perspective, most of us can’t sleep under the enormous racket of a ceiling fan running at maximum speed, but the Aeroquiet is, well, quiet enough to sound like a whisper in comparison. What’s more, the fan is virtually inaudible at saner speeds.
How Does it Do It?
How exactly does Orient Electric achieve all these seemingly mutually exclusive feats with its Aeroquiet ceiling fan? Well, the answer lies in clever aerodynamic design and smart engineering. It all begins with the powerful 18-pole induction motor fashioned out of high quality copper windings, strong magnets, and efficient commutation assembly. The superior double ball bearing design also lends to a silent operation. Ceiling fan motors usually come in 18, 20, and 22-pole configuration, with the motor speed increasing and maximum torque decreasing with additional number of poles.
The Aeroquiet opts for lower pole configuration because it eschews speed for aerodynamic efficiency. This is achieved by designing the fan blades to incorporate a sharper angle of attack, which allows them harness the extra torque to increase airflow while running quieter and more efficiently at a lower maximum speed of 310 rpm. More importantly, an airflow of 240 CMM is usually reserved for ceiling fans sporting four or five blade configurations. However, adding more blades increases drag, adds more noise, and makes ceiling fans less power efficient.
The lightweight ABS plastic blades increase power and efficiency
The Aeroquiet’s aerodynamically efficient blade design achieves the same amount of airflow with fewer blades, thereby delivering increased airflow with better power efficiency and reduced noise. This here is the holy grail of power, efficiency, and refinement.
What’s the Price of a Good Night’s Sleep?
With a sticker price of Rs 5200, which varies from Rs 4500 to Rs 4650 on the street, the Orient Electric Aeroquiet isn’t exactly cheap. Then again, can you really put a price on a good night’s sleep? For the money, you get a ceiling fan that looks futuristic and classy, delivers better airflow at reduced power consumption, and does it while being whisper quiet even at high speeds.
The only thing lacking here, in terms of technology, is the new brushless DC motor that’s found in other variants of ceiling fans made by Orient Electric. Perhaps, we may see another variant in the Orient Aeroseries with that motor, but until that happens, the Aeroquiet is by far the best ceiling fan money can buy right now. Click here to purchase the fan directly from Orient Electric.