Cleaning & Restoration Tools and Gadgets / Restoration

Advances in Air Movers

From centrifugal to axial, a look at some of the latest air mover specs

Originally air movers became popular in the carpet cleaning industry back in the 1960’s and early 70’s with the boom of wall-to-wall carpet and the portable carpet cleaner. These early carpet dryers were large, ½ horsepower units which drew over 5 amps and were used primarily to expedite the serviceability of freshly cleaned carpets in a customer’s home.air_movers_IN

How the times have changed.

Today the professional cleaner has a variety of fans to aid in the carpet drying process. Fans that drive the air down at the surface, allowing the airflow to be omnidirectional are probably the biggest change. This is where a single fan can be placed in the center of a room and air moves to cover all four directions.

However while air movers are still used to dry carpet, the biggest user of these machines is the water damage restoration professional, who today would find it very difficult to accomplish his or her task without them. They’re not used to dry, but to expedite the natural evaporation process, as the air mover of today has evolved into a technological tool of advanced air flow drawing meager amps while delivering precisely-placed volumes of air.

There are many types of air movers in this market to choose from. The centrifugal air mover, or “CAM” as they are commonly referred to, is one of the most popular. This fan moved into the restoration industry out of convenience, as it was already widely used by carpet cleaners when the restoration industry truly blossomed.    

Until 2006, centrifugal air movers were mostly 3 speeds, drew 3.9 amps on high and generally touted 2,200 to 2,500 cfm (cubic feet per minute). However as the industry challenged its equipment, several manufactures decided that this 2,200 to 2,500 cfm number was being exaggerated, so manufacturers decided to use “fpm,” or feet per minute, instead. Many still use fpm over cfm as a measurement today. That’s because the cfm of many centrifugal air movers is actually in the range of 800 and 1,100 cfm. The air flow, however, can be clocked at over 3,000 fpm - and that is what we really deal with. These fans need to move volumes of air fast over a given surface to rip the moisture off of that surface and put the water molecule in the air to help feed the dehumidifier enough moisture to work to capacity. 

The axial fan, a box-type fan with a propeller blade, has become a strong second to the centrifugal air mover. Some even argue that it is the only way to dry. Using a smaller horsepower motor - usually ¼ hp - and a prop-type blade to move the air, these high-rpm fans can and do deliver up to 3,000 cfm of air and are versatile in their directive use. Cost can be an issue, as they tend to run more than centrifugal air movers.

 Today’s fans, be it axial or centrifugal, are still taking shape with the latest “low profile,” as recent developments have seen models with 1.6 amps at over 3,100 fpm. This author can hardly wait to see the next generation of air mover machines. 

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