April 24 2012

Haiku Fan: Poetry in Three Efficient Airfoils

Beautiful! Efficient! Quiet! Take a look at the Haiku Fan! - The latest impressive product by Big Ass Fans whose other fan, Isis, revolutionized the industrial ceiling fan.

Let's be honest, the ceiling fans we all grew up with struggled to move air properly, sounded like hurricanes, and did no favors for the aesthetic of a room. These wood veneer warriors, brass pullchains slapping at their light fixtures, kept me cool at night but did so out of sheer mechanical brute force. I mean, hook up a sufficiently large, inefficient motor to any flat blade assembly and you can move air. But was there any elegance to the result. No. Not really.

Enter Haiku! whose main innovation, besides being a darling, is the "Sensorless Drive Technology." Most fans run on AC motors. The Haiku, by contrast, is powered by "an ultra efficient direct current (DC) motor" with an electronic controller. This motor, which uses a toroid magnet core in lieu of a traditional electromagnet, delivers an 80% improvement in energy efficiency over conventional ceiling fans and earns the fan credit for being THE most efficient Energy Star Ceiling Fan! Another benefit of this motor is that it does not need to be vented in the same way traditional fans to which translates into a more compact, sturdy fan architecture. What this means for you and I is quiet operation over the lifetime of the fan regardless of temperature of climate conditions and a less bulky form factor. So those of us who like the whirring, clicking and whooshing of oldschool fans might need to adjust by getting a white noise machine... Oh the price we pay for innovation.

Out with the old.

Ceiling fans have utilized alternating current (AC) motors since the earliest models in the late 1890s.

These motors are extremely inefficient, generating a lot more energy than is used to create mechanical shaft power and releasing the excess energy as heat.

The need to vent this heat drives the design of the motor and requires the large ventilated metal shrouds visible on nearly all conventional ceiling fans. These fans also break down over time as heat causes the laminated steel in their core to separate, leading to rattling and vibration.

- Haiku Fan by Big Ass Fans

"Don't call them blades." The fanblades on the Haiku are actually 'airfoils' designed to "move large amounts of air with minimum resistance and maximum efficiency." The company claims that these fans are in fact the "quietest in the world - at all speeds" which is quite an improvement over the beasts I have experienced in the past.

Haiku is available in two materials with two finishes each - Matrix composite (black and white) and bamboo (caramel and cocoa). The high quality of the fit and build appears to match the engineering prowess that has gone in to the design of the fan. Well done Big Ass!

One last point is that the electronic controller makes it possible to have multiple settings on the fan. For instance, the fan comes preprogrammed for a "Whoosh" mode which attempts to simulate "variations in natural airflow" to increase perceived cooling by up to 40%. That is just one example of how this fan stands out from the pack.

Of course here at Ziger/Snead we care about good design and this is a great example of how good design, from the airfoils to the motor to the controls to the materials, can innovate stale product category.

For more information visit the Haiku Fan online or see one of our previous posts on Big Ass Fans.

Posted by Jonas Risen

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