What’s the difference between an AC and EC Fan?

What's the difference between AC and EC Fans?

What’s the difference between an AC and EC Fan?

An essential part of an extraction system within a grow room is a fan. There are two types of fans, Alternating Current (AC) and Electronically Commutated (EC). AC and EC refers to the type of motor that drives the fan. This article will discuss the differences and the benefits of the two options.

How does the motor of a fan work?

Standard electronic motors turn electricity into rotational power. They work by energising electromagnets that generate magnetic force. This is turned into rotational power which is used to rotate the fan blades. All fans have electromagnets fixed to the motor body. The rotor then spins around the magnets. Forcing the fan blades to spin and direct the air through the fan body.

The rotor has permanent magnets around its circumference. Magnets have both a positive and a negative pole. The magnets are arranged so the poles of the magnets alternate between positive and negative. As the electromagnets are energised, they are either positive or negative, and repel or attract the permanent magnets in the rotor. This makes the fan spin causing air movement. The faster the magnets are energised, the faster the fan spins.

What is an AC fan motor?

AC motors use the alternating current from the main supply directly to energise and change the pole of the electromagnets. In the UK the electricity alternates between positive and negative at 50 Hz or 50 times per second. This means that the electromagnets in the motor change from positive to negative 50 times per second. AC motors under a normal load, at full speed, are efficient and economical to manufacturer.

What is an EC fan motor?

EC motors convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). The current is then used to energise the electromagnets. The DC current also converts the electromagnets from positive to negative.

The intelligent built-in electronics in an EC motor constantly monitor the exact location of the external rotor and only energise the electromagnets when they are needed, with the correct amount of power to maintain the speed. Therefore, EC motors use less than half the power at half the speed when compared to AC motors.

AC Fan EC Fan
  • Very efficient at 100% speed
  • Quiet in operation (at high speeds)
  • Cost effective and reliable
  • Cheaper to purchase than EC Fans
  • Higher running costs than EC Fans
  • Over 1000 speeds
  • Highly efficient at different speeds
  • Quiet – No humming and buzzing
  • Effective digital technology
  • Powerful – built to move more air using less power
  • Lower running costs that AC Fans
  • Built for years of hassle free service

Cost Differences of AC and EC Fan

The initial purchase cost of an AC Fan is cheaper than an EC Fan. However operational costs are 2 times higher for an AC Fan. EC Fans have a higher purchase cost, but EC Controllers are far cheaper than AC Controllers with the same capabilities. EC Fans also use less power when being controlled under 100% speed compared to an AC Fan, leading to reduced energy costs.

Which fan is right for you?

At Global Air Supplies we offer a vast number of AC and EC Fans, allowing you to purchase the best fan for your needs. Discover our range of Fans below. If you require any further help or advise on deciding between an AC or AE Fan, either call our customer service team or visit or local retailer.

EC Fans


AC Fans