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Expense or Investment? Part 2: Cooling Tower Fan Mechanical Systems Monitoring


There are many types of cooling tower upgrades, and part two of our four part series will uncover the details of common cooling tower fan upgrades and monitoring systems to help you understand if your machinery upgrade is an investment verses an expense towards your business.

Fan Upgrades:
  • Vibration switches

    What it does: A fan vibration switch will monitor your fan vibrations, shutting the fan down if excessive vibration were to take place. This will eliminate all risk of a catastrophic mechanical failure.

    Why have one? Excessive fan vibration can occur at any time if not monitored closely. The risk of fan vibration can be detrimental to your cooling tower mechanics and cooling performance. It can cause damage to your fan, fan stack, gearbox, and driveshaft and in some cases your structure.

    Expense or investment? Vibration switches are highly recommended and for under $500 they can be easily installed onsite. This upgrade prevents expensive mechanical failure, cell shut downs and significant performance loss.

  • Non-reverse adder

    What it does: The non-reverse adder will prevent your fan from wind milling in the reverse direction. Wind milling can cause serious damage to your gearbox and driveshaft at start up.

    What it can cost you without one: You run the risk of a broken gearbox and/or drive shaft that will once again, lead to shutdowns and performance loss.

    Who needs one? Plants operating in warmer climates are recommend to install the non-reverse adder, minimizing the risk of damage caused by wind milling.

    Expense or investment? A non-reverse adder is a good investment for those operating under warm weather conditions. It can be installed onsite and is a simple installation process for under $3,000 including material and labor. However, this is not an ideal investment for cold climate operations where de-icing procedures take place.

  • Braking assembly

    What it does: This assembly acts as a lock out tag out procedure to stop fan rotation at 100%. It is assembled outside, instead of inside the fan stack for safer and easier access.

    Who needs one? A braking assembly is for anyone that has a concern for their team's safety. It is by far the safest option that eliminates all risk of your fans rotating while any maintenance or repair work is being completed in that section of the tower.

    Expense or investment? A breaking assembly is such an important safety feature that it should be a non-negotiable investment. A $5,000 investment, including mounting and assembly, is a small price to pay compared to the cost of someone's life or bodily injury. For this reason the assembly can provide the largest return on investment.

    ** When considering assemblies, the type of assembly you get is very important. There are electronic and manual assemblies. With an electronic assembly, it will only function when electricity continues to be supplied to your tower. If the power is required to be shut off or in the case of a power outage, the mechanical assembly is recommended. This assembly will still stop your fans 100% even if no power is being supplied to your tower.

  • Leading edge protection for fan blades

    What it does: The leading edge protection will significantly improve the longevity of your fans by protecting your fan blades from harsh environmental conditions.

    Why have them? The leading edge protection is especially useful if your cooling tower operates under salt water conditions or has high chemical contaminates in the water supply. Salt or chemicals within the water will deteriorate fan blades at an increased rate thus causing damage quickly and costing you more money, faster.

    Expense or investment? A new fan can cost upwards of $50,000 plus performance loss due to cell shutdowns while repairing damaged fans. We consider leading edge protection to be an important investment for cooling towers that operate with high chemical contaminates or salt concentrations within the water system. We recommend installing the leading edge protection with a new unit, but can also be installed onsite for around a $3,000 total investment.

  • Upgraded fan clamps & hardware

    What it does: Upgraded fan clamps are simply made of a stronger material that maintains its condition longer under saltwater conditions or increased chemical contamination.

    Who needs this? All plants that operate under salt water or high chemical contaminates within their water supply. If you struggle with longevity and deterioration of your cooling tower components, you should consider this type of upgrade.

    Expense or investment? This upgrade may seem more costly to you unless your cooling tower is operating under the above conditions. Similarly with your fans, the salt and chemicals in the water will deteriorate traditional hardware material much quicker.

  • VFD's

    What it does: VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) allows your fans to run at any speed you see fit to optimize energy efficiency and performance.

    Why have one? VFD's aid in controlling the water temperature which becomes an issue during cold weather months.

    Expense or investment? VFD's are an investment, especially in colder climates, as they help in energy efficiency. For example during cold weather months a VFD will allow you to control a multi cell tower by controlling different fan speeds per each cell. Additionally, a VFD will allow precise control of water temperature in a single cell to aid in increased efficiency.

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