Delta Breez: Quiet, Energy-Efficient Bathroom Fans
December 16, 2010
Ok, it's been a few weeks since Greenbuild, yet we are still finding interesting products from the show. If you've ever been on the expo hall floor, you know how chaotic it can be. It's easy to miss products tucked among the various booths, lose coworkers among the throngs of people, or in my case, entirely forget that you visited a booth. So when I opened my notepad recently and out fell a small pamphlet describing the Delta Breez bathroom fan, I was pleasantly surprised. Extremely low-sone fans (1.0 sone is about as loud as a new refrigerator) have been around for years; they're necessary for controlling humidity and providing local ventilation, of course, and they can be used as the sole means of external ventilation in very tight, energy-efficient homes. (BuildingGreen first wrote about Panasonic’s WhisperLite fan back in 1997.) But there's a new player in the bathroom fan industry, Delta Products, a division of Delta Electronics (no relation to Delta Faucet). They only started selling bathroom fans in 2010, but they're now offering eight HVI- (Home Ventilation Institute) and Energy Star-certified models, with more on the way in 2011.
Delta Electronics is no stranger to the fan market, however. The company has been around since 1971. “We are the world’s largest provider of DC brushless fans and switching power supplies,” exclaimed Mike Gazzano, Delta’s marketing specialist. He said, as an OEM supplier to computer manufacturers, his company sells DC fans and motors that are used in laptops, desktops, game systems, and servers. “Essentially they are scaled up computer fans,” he said. The company designs these fans to be quiet and operate at maximum energy efficiency in order to preserve laptop’s battery life or speed up processing—so the technology should carry over well to its bathroom fans.
According to Delta’s company literature, its ACH line has an air flow of 80 cubic feet per minute (cfm) but uses only 7.1 watts, for a energy efficiency rating of 11.75 cfm/watt at a static pressure of 0.1 inches w.g. (compared with Broan’s QTXE at about 3.5 cfm/watt). And it is one of the quietest fans on the market at <0.3 sones. For reference, Energy Star requirements for an 80-cfm fan are a minimum efficiency of 1.4 cfm/watt and a maximum sone of 2.0. Delta currently offers fans ranging from 80 to 130 cfm (0.3 to 1.3 sones, respectively) in dual-speed and lit and unlit versions. The company also offers humidity-sensing models that automatically switch the fans to a higher speed when the humidity reaches 40% and slow it back down when the humidity drops. This unit is controlled by cycling the on/off wall switch, and LEDs in the fan grill indicate the current setting. All of Delta’s fans come with the company’s “soft start” technology to help prolong bearing life and are backed by a three-year warranty.
Delta Breez models are available on-line and through select distributors throughout the U.S. but come in only one size, about 9.7 inches square (12.36” grill). Gazzano said that next year the company will be offering different sizes, including a smaller unit for retrofits, as well as models with motion sensors. Delta’s 80-cfm ACH model lists for $185, about the same price as comparable models from other manufacturers, and though the Delta Breez controls aren’t as sophisticated as the motion and air pressure sensors found in Panasonic’s WhisperGreen the company seems to have made a solid transition from computers to bathroom fans.
Delta Products Corporation, Inc.Fremont, California
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Brent Ehrlich is the products editor at BuildingGreen