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What Is an Axial Fan?

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  • Written By: M. McGee
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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An axial fan is the technical name for common bladed fans and is one of the three main fan types. These fans typically consist of three to five blades that have a slight curve to them in order to direct the moving air forward. These fans pull air from directly behind the blades and push it forward, allowing users to pull air out of one location and push it into another. The low production costs and high air movement capabilities of the axial fan make it a common cooling method for many forms of electronics and machinery.

These fans were some of the first mass-produced fans on the market. The earliest household axial fan dates back to the late 1800s. With the exception of certain physical and electronic safety features and the variable speed motor, the technology was nearly identical to modern fans.

The construction of an axial fan is actually quite simple. An internal motor is connected to a shaft which is, in turn, connected to several fan blades. The blades are angled in relation to the shaft, usually around 45 degrees. The blades may have an angled connection, or the blades may bend as they move away from the shaft; either way, they must have an angle in order to be an axial fan. As the motor spins the shaft, the shaft turns the blades and the blades move the air.

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The angled blades are the cornerstone of the axial fan. They allow the fan to pull in air from directly behind the blades and forcefully push it out directly in front of the blades. This motion is performed parallel to the spinning shaft, creating a straight line of effect. This line is what gives an axial fan its name.

The other two main types of fans, centrifugal and crossflow fans, work on a similar principle, but in a different way. These fans take in air and expel it in a different direction. This is because they use straight blades, so the air isn’t directed like an axial fan. The straight blades create less wind resistance, so they can generally outperform an axial fan of a similar size, but their design limits their applications.

It is possible to find axial fans in most modern households. These fans are the most common type of forced air cooling used in home electronics such as computers and televisions. In addition, many homes use ceiling fans, box fans or pedestal fans for air circulation. All of these fan types are usually axial fans.

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