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Experimental and numerical investigations of indoor air movement distribution with an office ceiling fan

Abstract

Ceiling fans provide cooling to indoor occupants and improve their thermal comfort in warm environments at very low energy consumption. Understanding indoor air distribution associated with ceiling fans helps designs when ceiling fans are used. In this study, we systematically investigate the air movement distribution in an unoccupied office room installed with a ceiling fan, as influenced by (1) fan rotational speed, (2) fan blade geometry, (3) ceiling-to-fan depth, and (4) ceiling height. We both measured and simulated air speeds at four heights in the occupied zone according to ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 55 (2013) for seated and standing occupants. CFD predictions were validated by experimental results. In general, numerical results show that for an unoccupied space, the fan blade geometry, ceiling-to-fan depth, and ceiling height only influence air speed profiles within a cylindrical zone directly under a ceiling fan whose diameter is identical to that of the ceiling fan. However, the average speeds within the cylindrical zone at each height are very similar (<10% in difference) for the different blade shapes studied, indicating a minor influence of blade geometries on occupants' perception of the thermal environment. The results also indicate that the velocity profile remains similar in the main jet zone (the tapered high-velocity zone under the fan blade) for various rotational speeds. The jet impingement on the floor creates radial airflow at the ankle level (0.1 m) across the room, which is not the most effective airflow distribution for cooling occupants.

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