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How do Big Ass Fans work?

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Big Ass Fans are a well-known and popular ventilation product for both businesses and homes. They are primarily an American brand but have a dedicated Australian branch too. But what’s the big deal? What do they do and how do they work? Big Ass Fans are just that; really big ceiling fans. They do what any fan does, just bigger. 

How do fans work?

That might sound like a dumb question to ask. People use fans when it’s hot because they cool the place down, right? Well, kind of. Ceiling fans work by moving air around you. This airflow feels cool when it blows across your skin and evaporating moisture (or sweat). That means that fans don’t actually cool the room down though, just the people in it.

How Stuff Works says that electrical fans actually make a room hotter. That’s because the energy required to move the fan blades creates heat. In a perfectly insulated room there would be nowhere for the heat to go so it would only serve to make the room hotter (and windier). You can check out this test case the Wired did that shows how a fan in a box makes the inside of the box hotter.

But wait, fans can have some cooling effect in a room. Because hot air rises and cool air accumulates close to the floor, fans can make a room cooler by circulating the cool air. The air movement generated by fans can push hot air down and drag cooler air upwards into the middle of the room, where you are! 

ABC News points out that fans can work well to cool you down in certain circumstances. Fans can be useful in humid heat when the air is moist, but they’re less helpful in dry heat. Also, fans are better than nothing. So if you don’t have anything else, use a fan.

Oceanside Services gives the excellent tip that rotating the fan blades clockwise can push warm air downwards into the room (great for winter) or anticlockwise to drag cool air upwards. 

So if fans are only okay for cooling, what good are they? And what does Big Ass Fans offer?

Fans are best at circulating and moving air around a room. Increasing the air movement in a room or building can help to distribute cool air that an air-conditioner pumps out. This blog post by Big Ass Fans talks about how their fans help improve ventilation in warehouses. You can introduce outdoor air and ‘mix’ it with indoor air by putting a fan close to an open window or door. This essentially dilutes the pollutants/toxins that are inside, improving the air quality. The simple movement of air generated by these fans can help to distribute cool air around the room as I mentioned above. However, it can also mean that hot air is spread across a facility.

The main selling points for Big Ass Fans are:

big ass fans logo

  • Powerful air movement
  • Quiet operation
  • Cheaper to run than a HVAC system and helps to cut cooling costs by improving efficiency
  • Stylish appearance
  • High-quality manufacturing and parts

I’ve linked to a few review pages so you can have a look at what customers think:

What about extraction fans for air flow?

This blog has talked a lot about extraction fans for ventilation. Things like roof insulation and smart building materials are great for keeping heat out of your house in the first place. Fans are great for moving air around. Extraction fans are great at removing heat from your home. Physically removing hot air from your roof space or from indoors seems to make a lot of sense to me.

There are obvious circumstances where you need to remove heat and moisture. Most people associate exhaust or extraction fans with rooms like kitchens, laundries and bathrooms. But extracting indoor air and replacing it with fresh air can have lots of benefits for general living spaces too. Introducing fresh air into your home improves air quality by removing moisture, stuffiness and other pollutants like CO2.

I’ve done comparisons of different ventilation fans that are available on the Australian market before that you might find useful or interesting.

The conclusion

There are definitely reasons for and against getting something like a Big Ass Fans. They are a great option if you don’t expect them to cool down your home or work environment. If you’re looking for ways to circulate air, increase air movement and generate an indoor breeze then large ceiling fans like Big Ass Fans could be a good option for you. But if you’re looking for something to cool your house or business down then these are probably not the right decision for you.

If you’re looking for more information about commercial ventilation I’d suggest you have a look at this post from a few years ago. It is a little old now, but the advice is still sound.