The most convincing way to teach this concept is to have students figure it out for themselves using a centrifugal blower. Have them operate a centrifugal blower in free air with no restriction and measure both the amp draw and the fan RPM. Note that most centrifugal blowers cannot operate in free air for an extended time without overheating, so try and keep the free air operating time to a minimum. Next have them block one side of the air intake with a piece of cardboard and recheck the amp draw and RPM. Typically the increase in RPM is immediately obvious, but measurements prove the point. Have them slide the cardboard to block the intake only half way while watching the amp draw. A few minutes of experimentation will convince the students that blocking the intake actually causes an increase in RPM and a decrease in the motor amp draw. Next have them partially block the fan outlet while checking the amp draw. Once again, the amp draw will decrease. Allow them a few minutes of play time to convince themselves. This experiment does more to explain centrifugal blower motor performance than a week’s worth of lectures.
Now that you have them hooked, refer them to Unit 56 Fans and Airflow inFundamentals of HVAC/R where they can read about the characteristics of different type of fans used in the industry and the basic principles of airflow. There the students can see examples of the different types of fans and read about their performance characteristics. Unit 56 Fans and Airflow wraps up with a discussion of the fan laws and using fan perfromance tables and curves. As always, examples show in detail how to apply each of these concepts.
Note that what I have been discussing assumes a "regular" PSC blower motor. ECM blower motors behave differently because they are programmed to adjust their output according to the resistance they are working against, but that is an entirely new discussion which I will save for another article.
Safety note: If you are not sure all of your students understand that it will hurt to put their hands into a moving fan blade, you should put a wire gaurd over the intake and exhaust to keep hands and fingers out. For a more polished trainer build sliding sheet metal baffles for both the intake and exhaust and mount the blower to a stand.
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