Axial vs. Centrifugal Fans: Which Is Best for Your Application?

Industrial fans circulate large volumes of air in warehouses, factories, and other industrial environments. Available in several sizes and designs, most fans can be categorized as either axial or centrifugal based on their method of operation. Understanding these two fan types and the distinct benefits they offer is essential when choosing a fan for an industrial application.

Here is an overview of axial and centrifugal fans, including their design, performance characteristics, benefits, and applications for which they are best suited.

Axial vs. Centrifugal Fans

Axial and centrifugal fans are both composed of the same key parts, but they can be distinguished by the following characteristics.

Axial

Axial fans consist of a motor, rotor, and several blades, all of which are housed within a durable casing to protect against dust and debris. Each blade extends radially from the center of the rotor hub. Powered by an electric motor, these blades rotate around a fixed axis and force air outward in a direction that is parallel to the axis.

Benefits and features of axial fans include:

  • Compact design: Axial fans feature a compact, lightweight design that allows for fast and easy installation.
  • High flow rate: Using a relatively small amount of power, axial fans generate air flow with a high flow rate and low pressure. This makes them extremely efficient at moving large volumes of low-pressure air from one location to another.
  • High operating speed: Axial fans have a higher peripheral speed than their centrifugal counterparts.
  • Customizability: The size and shape of the fan blades can be customized depending on the air volume and speed requirements of the application.

Centrifugal

Often referred to as blowers, centrifugal fans feature a fan assembly enclosed within a scroll-shaped casing. In contrast to axial fans, the blades of a centrifugal fan are positioned at right angles to the rotor axis. The fan compresses the incoming air, then forces it out in a direction perpendicular to the rotor’s central axis.  

Benefits and features of centrifugal fans include:

  • High-pressure airflow: While centrifugal fans generally achieve a lower flow rate than axial fans, they can generate much higher pressures and steadier airflow.
  • Low maintenance: Centrifugal fans can be equipped with self-cleaning features that make them easy and inexpensive to maintain.
  • High efficiency: Although centrifugal fans consume more electricity, their creation of constant airflow is generally more energy-efficient than axial fans.
  • Versatility: Centrifugal fans are capable of handling various airflow conditions and can be sized to accommodate a range of spaces.
  • Durability: Made from durable materials, centrifugal fans are built to withstand corrosive or high-heat industrial environments.

Types of Axial & Centrifugal Fans

At Markair, we offer a broad selection of axial and centrifugal fans suited for various industrial environments and applications.

Axial

Our axial fans include:

  • Vaneaxial: Vaneaxial fans are equipped with specialized air guide vanes positioned before or after the impeller to maximize flow efficiency.
  • Propeller: Commonly used in ventilation and cooling applications, propeller fans are designed to efficiently move high volumes of low-pressure air in large spaces.
  • Roof Supply & Exhaust: Weather-resistant roof supply and exhaust fans remove overheated air and moisture from the roof systems of warehouses.
  • Wall Supply & Exhaust: Designed for easy wall mounting, wall supply and exhaust fans help regulate air temperature and quality in various warehouse and factory applications.
  • Duct Inline: Duct inline fans can be installed within ductwork to maximize airflow.
  • Mixed Flow: Featuring a hybrid impeller design, mixed flow fans achieve high flow rates while minimizing noise and power consumption.
  • Smoke & Heat Removal: Smoke and heat removal fans quickly remove smoke, fumes, and high-temperature air from buildings.
  • Adjustable Pitch: While these fans are at rest, operators can adjust the blade pitch to match system requirements.
  • Anti-Stall: Highly efficient anti-stall fans are designed to provide 100% stable operation by eliminating stall.
  • Direct & Belt Drive: Direct drive fans feature a propeller that is directly connected to the motor shaft, whereas belt drive fans use at least one belt to connect the moving parts to the motor. 

Centrifugal

We carry these centrifugal fans:

  • Forward Curved: Characterized by several small, forward-curved blades, forward curved fans are a lightweight and cost-effective centrifugal option for industrial applications.
  • Backward Curved: In contrast to forward curved fans, backward curved fans utilize several large, backward-curved blades. While heavier and more expensive than forward curved designs, these fans are generally more durable and efficient.
  • Backward Inclined: Backward inclined fans are equipped with flat, backward-inclined blades to reduce interference and improve efficiency.
  • High-Efficiency: High-efficiency centrifugal fans are designed to move high volumes of air in large-scale industrial applications.
  • Airfoil: Using aerodynamic airfoil-shaped blades, airfoil fans achieve high levels of efficiency while minimizing power consumption and noise.
  • High-Pressure: High-pressure centrifugal fans provide low flow and high static pressure in continuous-use industrial applications.
  • Induced Draft (ID): Induced draft fans are often used in combustion systems to remove air from a specific area, creating a vacuum or negative air pressure.
  • Forced Draft (FD): In contrast to induced draft fans, forced draft fans create positive air pressure by pushing air into a system.
  • Plug: Featuring a compact, easy-to-install design, plug fans are used to circulate air in small air-handling units and other confined spaces.
  • Plenum: Plenum fans feature a centrifugal wheel without the full housing found in most standard centrifugal fans, allowing them to distribute airflow in multiple directions. These fans are known for their high efficiency and relatively quiet operation.
  • Utility Sets: Available in various configurations, centrifugal utility fan sets are ideal for lighter-duty industrial applications.
  • Inline: Often used in industrial and HVAC applications, inline centrifugal fans are designed to be mounted inside the ductwork to improve efficiency.
  • Mixed Flow: Mixed flow fans combine the efficiency of axial fans with the pressure-generating capabilities of centrifugal fans.
  • Fume Exhaust: Fume exhaust fans are designed to safely exhaust noxious or high-temperature fumes in a range of industrial applications.
  • Laboratory Exhaust: Commonly used in universities and research facilities, laboratory exhaust fans allow hazardous chemicals, fumes, and contaminated air to be quickly and safely removed from indoor spaces.

Applications of Axial vs. Centrifugal Fans

Axial and centrifugal fans each have specific performance characteristics that influence their suitability for certain applications. 

Axial Fan Applications

Axial fans are ideal for moving large volumes of low-pressure air in various industrial cooling and ventilation applications. Examples include:

  • Power generators: In power generation plants, axial fans are often installed in cooling towers to regulate temperature.
  • HVAC: Axial fans are commonly used in HVAC systems and other cooling applications that require a low-pressure, high-volume stream of air.
  • Electronics: Axial fans can be installed in computers, refrigerators, vending machines, and other equipment to cool electronic components and prevent overheating.
  • Heat exchangers: With their compact and efficient design, axial fans are ideal for air-cooled industrial heat exchangers.

Centrifugal Fan Applications

Centrifugal fans are best suited for industrial applications requiring a steady, high-pressure air stream. Examples include:

  • Hot air exhaust: In power plants and warehouses, centrifugal fans are often used to exhaust hot or humid air resulting from industrial production.
  • Air conveyance: Centrifugal fans are a key component of air conveyor systems used in various manufacturing operations.
  • Dust collection: In dust collection systems, centrifugal fans are essential for pushing or pulling dust-laden air through the filtration process.
  • Corrosive processes: Constructed from heavy-duty materials and components, centrifugal fans are generally the best fan option for handling corrosive or hot gases in harsh processing environments.

Axial and Centrifugal Fans from Markair

Choosing the right fan design is crucial for meeting airflow requirements while accommodating your cost and energy efficiency goals. At Markair, our comprehensive consultation, design, fabrication, and installation services allow us to optimize your axial or centrifugal fan solution according to your specific needs. Our products are built in compliance with the latest industry standards and certifications, including:

  • ATEX
  • AMCA
  • API
  • ASME
  • NFPA
  • Nuclear
  • ISO G2.5 and G6.3 Balance Grades
  • OSHA
  • MSHA

To learn more about our axial and centrifugal fan options, please contact us today.

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