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An HVLS, short for high-volume low-speed, fan is a type of mechanical fan larger than 7 feet in diameter. Usually, HVLS fans are ceiling fans although some are pole mounted. HVLS fans move slowly and distribute large amounts of air at low rotational speed, hence the name high-volume, low-speed.
The most common uses for HVLS fans are in two classifications, industrial and commercial. For industrial applications, air conditioning can be very impractical. However, HLVS fans installed in spaces like warehouses, barns, hangars and distribution centers can prevent heat stress, which can increase worker comfort and the productivity. Where air conditioning use is more common, such as in commercial spaces, increased air movement from ceiling fans can augment occupant comfort more cost effectively. Such commercial applications include shopping malls, churches, office buildings, airport terminal buildings, fitness centers and schools.
For commercial spaces such as schools and libraries, sound sensitivity and quiet operation is also a significant concern. Industrial spaces have a median dBA of 85 or higher, and prioritize air movement, effective in combating heat stress over silent operation.
High-volume low-speed fans work on the principle that cool moving air breaks up the moisture-saturated boundary layer surrounding the body and accelerates evaporation to produce a cooling effect. Ceiling fans yield a column of air as they turn. This column of air moves down and out along the floor, called a horizontal floor jet. This wall of horizontal moving air is relative to the diameter of a fan as well as the speed of a fan. Once the floor jet reaches its maximum output, it moves outward until it meets a side wall or other vertical surface.
Commercial HVLS fans differ from residential ceiling fans in diameter, rotational speed, and performance. While some fans use contemporary blades to move air, other methods are being used to make it more efficient such as using airfoils.
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