> FOCUS STAY COOL
ment house renovation project in downtown Los Angeles, Berg
and his team’s design moved the fans away from the grill—inline
fans—placed somewhere within the duct run.
“Moving the fan a little farther away from the restrooms
themselves dampens some of the noise so the residents can’t
hear it,” he said.
Selecting the proper size fan for a home relies on a matrix.
ASHRAE allows the ventilation calculation to be made in dif-
ferent ways. One way is to do the math based on square feet of
living area and the number of bedrooms plus one. Another way
is to use the chart, provided by ASHRAE, on page 36. Infor-
mation about codes and guidelines are provided by the Home
Ventilating Institute ( www.hvi.org), a nonprofit association
of home ventilation products manufacturers founded in 1955.
To enter this market, ECs need to know that IAQ matters. That is a message that can be passed on to homeowners
who may not be aware of the health, convenience aspects
and economic advantages of indoor air quality and moisture-management products.
CASE Y, author of “Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors”
and “Women Invent! Two Centuries of Discoveries that have Changed
Our World,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.
When the company known today as Big Ass
Solutions began in 1999, with a staff of six,
everyone answered the phone, “HVLS Fan
Co. Can I help you?”
“There would be a long silence,”
said Carey Smith, company founder.
“Then the customer would say, ‘Are you the
guys who make those big ass fans?’”
“We thought our name made perfect
sense: HVLS for high-volume, low-speed.
But after hearing our customer’s call them
big ass fans for a year, we decided to rename
the company Big Ass Fans,” Smith said. “It
took a bit of moxie. At the time, we thought
we were stepping out quite a bit, but that’s
what the customers called our products.
Except for various postmasters who wouldn’t
post our direct mailings to customers and
actually sent the mailings back to us and the
people who wrote nasty notes telling us what
bad people we were, it’s worked out great.
“Our products are different than the competition, and the name describes the fans and
the way we look at business,” Smith said.
With the addition of a new line of lighting products called Big Ass Lights, the
company has adopted the umbrella name
of Big Ass Solutions.
How do Big Ass Fans differ from other
fans? Instead of creating air changes per hour,
they create air turnover per hour. Instead of
blades that are used in most fans, the company
uses airfoils that move air more efficiently. It
also produces fans for residential and commercial applications.
“We increased the diameter of the fan and
reduced the size of the motor,” Smith said.
“Our fans work exceptionally well in large
environments, like distribution centers and
factories, and use very little electrical energy.”
The fan size has another advantage.
“Because of the size, the fans move
large volumes of air,” said Thomas Lesser,
research engineer, Big Ass Solutions. “The
airfoils help push that conditioned or fresh
air to the occupants so that some duct
work can be eliminated. In the installation
at our offices in Kentucky, we still push
conditioned air through the ducts from
the rooftop units, but instead of relying
on a duct sock or a long line of duct work
that has a bunch of off-shoots to push air
over each little office area, we use fans to
distribute all that conditioned air. There is
still a main supply and returns to the space,
but the fans are doing the work the duct
work would have done.”
The company has been as aggressive
in product development as it has in its
name change. It has gained 95 patents and
has 129 patents pending, some of which
apply to the airfoils while others are for
motor design elements.
“Each motor is teamed with a specific
airfoil to get the maximum flow out of the
fan,” Lesser said.
Big Ass Solutions doesn’t take the one-size-fits-all approach to its products.
“We started in the agricultural world
selling fans to farmers who wanted to keep
their cattle cool,” said Lance Piper, new
construction manager, Big Ass Solutions.
“When existing customers came to us and
asked for a fan for their kids’ gym or what-
ever, we didn’t take that product and stick
it somewhere else. We’ve developed fans
specifically designed for different applica-
tions. Over the years, we’ve moved from
the agricultural to the industrial market, but
we couldn’t take the same industrial motor,
the same industrial gearbox and move it to
the commercial world. Our biggest devel-
opment for the residential market has been
the removal of the gear box and intro-
duction of electromagnetic motors that
increase efficiency and reduce the sound,
which fits for retail, education and libraries.”
Big Ass Solutions is particular about the
installation of its products and has developed
a nationwide network of certified contractors.
“Since we have to get power to the fans,
most of our certified contractors, are also
licensed electricians,” Piper said. “As we’re
growing our number of certified contractors,
we also sub out to electrical contractors. In
larger markets, we hire certified electrical
contractors as Big Ass Fans employees.”
That’s one big ass idea. —S.C.
← Continued from page 34
Big Ass Solutions unveiled
the world’s first smart ceiling
fan designed with an on-board computer and array of
sensors. SenseME technology,
available exclusively on the
Haiku ceiling fan.