ebm-papst Fans, Blowers and Technology

How fuel scarcity drives innovation

Posted on Thu, Sep 27, 2012

Why brushless motor designs are gaining momentum for commercial truck and bus ventilation

By Bill McBaine


Not so many years ago, designers of commercial truck and bus ventilation systems had only a few choices for motors. These products offered economical solutions but were not without issues.

Then came a global fuel crisis, which forced truck fleet owners to re-think how they operate their vehicles. Because it was no longer fiscally practical to idle a large diesel engine during evening truck stops to power and ventilate the sleeper cab, HVAC manufacturers began to integrate their HVAC and power generation systems into auxiliary power units.

Mass transit authorities faced similar challenges: save fuel while providing adequate ventilation for passengers. They pushed for reducing buses’ down time and improving their life span, which required a new solution: a DC input motor device capable of drastically longer service life.

As a global manufacturer of air movers and drive systems, our challenge was to adapt to these new realities. The result? A brushless motor design that offers longer life, lower maintenance, better fuel efficiency and improved performance.

Let’s look at the old-versus-new options for powering ventilation systems in commercial vehicles.

Low voltage (12/24VDC) brush commutation motors, offered by many suppliers, were the standard for many years. Featuring a consumable carbon brush in contact with a commentator to provide power to various motor windings, they offered a simple, inexpensive approach. 

However, brush commutation motors have always been prone to wear-and-tear issues as they age.

The motor’s brush material is consumed over time through physical contact with the spinning commentator. This abrasive material becomes trapped within the motor, leading to bearing failure if it contaminates the grease. Typical brush life is 4,000 to 6,000 hours. “Long life” variations may exceed 10,000 hours but have unfortunately resulted in even greater amounts of abrasive brush material building up in the motor.

In addition, water penetration/condensation in brush commutation motors during extreme external temperature swings can result in moisture being drawn deep inside the unit (especially at the seams). Once trapped, this moisture cannot easily escape, leading to corrosion and shortened life span of the motor.

Another ventilation motor option, high voltage (230VAC) induction motors allow higher power levels at a lower amperage draw compared to 12/24VDC brush designs. On the down side, this approach requires a high-capacity AC power source, which adds a lot of additional expense to the system. These motors’ physical space requirements are also more suited to the mass transit industry/ bus market than for other types of commercial vehicles.

So what’s the third option? Automotive brushless commutation motors, which ebm-papst has refined over the past 10 years to offer truck and bus fleets better efficiency and performance.


The brushless generation of automotive motors introduces a Gortex membrane within the electronics components, allowing any condensation to be safely eliminated from the circuit board. Leading suppliers of HVAC systems within moving vehicles and equipment have embraced these designs, now used in quantities of hundreds of thousands of pieces in commercial and industrial vehicles.

Our third generation W3G300 fan, introduced to North America in 2011, and the new W3G385 fan, which joins ebm-papst’s brushless motor product family this year, build on the success of earlier models while offering new capabilities such as greater air performance, thinner and lighter construction, reduced power usage and lower noise levels.

As fuel prices continue to rise, we’ll keep listening to the needs of our mobile customers and their HVAC suppliers, developing and testing new improvements to our brushless motor systems.


Bus BW resized 600


If you’re a truck or bus fleet owner, manager or maintenance pro, we want to hear from you. What are your experiences with brushless motor systems? How can we continue advancing brushless motor designs?


Tags: Fan Technology, Efficiency, Brushless Motor, DC motors

You better not miss ebm-papst at AHR in Chicago!

Posted on Thu, Dec 29, 2011

The AHR Expo is the largest HVAC&R trade show we exhibit in, and it’s coming up fast. With less then a month to go, it's getting a little crazy in the Marketing department! Preparations have become a daily occurence at ebm-papst - we even dream about AHR. Along with packing extra clothes to keep warm during a visit to the Windy City in January, we'll be bringing many of our products used in the HVAC&R market.

Some featured products will include:

plug radical hyblade i maxx resized 600


This week, literature, promotional giveaways and bottled water (in case our visitors get thirsty) are being packed up and shipped to our new display company, DisplayCraft. Once they receive this last batch of supplies, the whole booth will be sent on it's journey to Chicago!

AHR packed resized 600

This year's booth will be a little different from our past booths at AHR, thanks to DisplayCraft! They've helped up redesign the layout of the exhibit to make it more spacious and functional. We're very excited to see the final result at the show on January 23rd-25th!

Throughout the show, expert ebm-papst Market Management teams that represent each industry will be there to expertly solve any air moving problems you might have!

For anyone who wants to do a little homework before visiting the ebm-papst booth (#2046) at AHR, here is a selection of some of the literature that will be available.

Click here to register for the show!

We hope to see you there!

Tags: Fan Technology, EC motors, ebm-papst, GreenTech, HVAC&R, AHR, AC motors, Energy Efficiency, DC motors

ebm papst: Basics of AC and EC Fan Technology

Posted on Thu, Jul 14, 2011

 There are three types of AC motors that are used to drive fans – 3-phase motors, permanent split capacitor (PSC) motors and shaded pole motors.  The type of motor required for a given application is dictated by the input voltage available in the application and the amount of power required to drive the fan. 

  • PSC and shaded pole motors are used for single phase AC input. 

  • Shaded pole motors are suited for low power fans. 

  • A more powerful single phase fan requires a PSC motor.

  • Shaded pole motors are more cost effective but are limited by their lower power. 

  • PSC motors require an external capacitor for proper operation. 

  • A 3-phase AC motor is needed when the application has 3-phase AC input.

  When the application requires DC input, a brushless DC motor is typically used. A brushless DC motor uses an electronic circuit and permanent magnets to generate rotation. The end result is a highly efficient and highly reliable motor. The commutation electronics are typically built right into the motor so the user only needs to apply DC voltage to the motor. Since brushless DC motors require electronics to function, they are often referred to as Electronically Commutated or EC motors.  Because EC motors have electronics, speed control and speed monitoring functions can be done very easily.  

The last type of motor to discuss is the line-fed EC motor.  These motors are also brushless DC motors but are used with AC voltage. The AC input coming into the motor is rectified to a high voltage DC. These motors are used where typical PSC, shaded pole or three-phase AC motors have historically been used. The benefit of the line fed EC motor is the higher efficiency, controllability and long life that a brushless DC motor offers. All power conversion and drive electronics are located within the motor. 

Click me

Tags: Fan Technology, EC motors, AC motors, DC motors