Sometime in the middle of 2009, in a technology meet, we were asked whether we could make a drive for BLDC ceiling fan motor that would be economical as we are experts in design and manufacture of motor drives. We design and produce drives for industrial applications that require high reliability and long life and they generally are more expensive than consumer products. So we were wondering how we can adapt our design to an inexpensive and very common appliance.
We realized that if we can come up with a solution it is going to have an enormous effect on energy consumption in India and that inspired us to think more about it.
These are figures we came across! There are an estimated 350 million ceiling fans used all over India for about seven hours everyday, consuming 39W each, running at medium speed. That creates a demand of 13650MW. That also means 95000MU are consumed every day in running these fans. In 2011, an estimated 32 million were sold and the market is expanding by 6% every year.
The ceiling fans that are currently available in the market use single phase induction motors. These motors are inexpensive to manufacture but they are very inefficient. They directly work from the standard 220V AC power supply using a capacitor. Over the years the design was improved but still a lot more was desired.
So there was general interest in changing the type of motor that would consume less energy and Permanent magnet BLDC motor was one of the options. The BLDC motors have permanent magnets that make them more efficient but more expensive. They also require sensors to indicate rotor position to the electronic drive. Using an electronic drive introduces harmonics to power source. If this is not controlled, the use of millions of ceiling fans will reduce the effectiveness of our power distribution system.
These were some of the challenges faced in using this BLDC motor technology in ceiling fans. The challenges fueled our thinking.
We came up with a design of an electronic drive circuit that uses a small micro-computer, but would cost the least to do the function.
We then developed a motor that would be efficient and at the same time cost effective. Armed with basic underlying technology, we spelt out a product specification that would equal or exceed the specification of products currently available in the market - Low power consumption, High speed, Remote, Stable speed, Simple installation procedure, Power factor control, Stylish and Green - and all these at lowest incremental cost.
If the existing ceiling fans in India are replaced by Superfan, the demand can come down from 13650MW to 4900MW. A huge reduction of 8750MW for the nation!
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