This spring we are introducing several new models of whole house fans. We’ve made very large investments in R&D over the past couple years, but thus far have only adopted new innovations piecemeal. Collectively, these upgrades will boost our fans’ airflow at maximum speed by an average of 28%, and their efficiency by 37%. We’ll detail every improvement in a series of posts, but, to start, we want to discuss what will be the biggest change: a new control system.
In all of our new models, we will be replacing our 2nd Generation Controls with our new Digital Touch Controller. This new controller provides every fan with 10 speed settings (up from 7), and a 12-hour timer. Instead of traditional “buttons”, the touch controller use capacitive sensors to turn its face plate into a touch pad much like your tablet or smartphone. Simply touch your finger to the correct part of the face plate and, voilà, the fan responds accordingly. We’ve even added two banks of LEDs to display the fan’s current speed setting and the amount of time remaining on the timer. You can see this remarkable new controller in action by following this link.
So, beyond its cool technology dashing good looks, what are the benefits of the Digital Touch Controller? Several, actually:
- While three additional speeds might not seem like much, they are a real benefit. In our laboratory, our fans grow progressively louder at each higher speed. But every human being hears sound slightly differently, so, for many homeowners, the quietest real world speed will not actually be the quietest tested speed. Having a wide range of available speeds increases the likelihood our customers will be able to find the setting most pleasant to their own ear.
- Having a wider range of speeds also improves the fans’ useful efficiency. Because of Physics, our fans’ efficiency decreases as their speed (and cooling) increases. By adding more intermediate speed settings, we’ve reduced the size of the “jump” between them, which increases the fans’ efficiency in practice by increasing the opportunities to find enough cooling at a lower speed.
- The new controls will also improve our fans’ reliability. While our fans are already extremely reliable—as we’ve designed them to be—we must admit extremely reliable is not the same as perfectly reliable. When our fans do fail, one of the more common causes is failure of the control board. A fair bit of electronics is required to control our fans, and attics, generally speaking, are no place for electronics: hot and dusty in the summer, cold and damp in the winter. With the Digital Touch Controls, we’ve move our fans’ most sensitive electronics out of the attic and into the wall, where they are more protected. This will cut down on failures. It will also make them easier to address when they do occur, since a wall switch is, by design, much easier to access than a control box in the attic.
Some parts of the control system will remain the same. The Digital Touch Controller will still be “Plug & Play”, with all wiring connections made with low-voltage CAT5 cable. The new controller will also be compatible with our wireless remotes.
Others will change: Most notably, these new controls are NOT compatible with our 2nd Generation Control package and its various accessories, which include our network interface, mobile application, API, Temperature Sensor Package, and SafeSpeed™ pressure interlock. If you’d like to use any of these features, the 2nd Generation Controls and accessories will be made available separately.