Home > Uncategorized > We’re in the wrong business, Dyson Fan edition

We’re in the wrong business, Dyson Fan edition

May 29, 2010

I’ve seen pictures of those new Dyson “bladeless” fans, which look like a magical ring that moves air, somehow.  You’ve probably seen commercials for them.  They’re, like, three hundred bucks which is a lot for a fan that sits on the table.  I suppose if you were absolutely loaded with dough…

Anyway I had wondered how they work; what moves the air?  Some kind of spooky magnetohydrodynamic effect like the propulsion system in the Russian submarine in Hunt For Red October?  And today I got a close look at one, and the answer is; no, they’re actually pretty conventional.

There’s a regular old fan (probably a squirrel cage type) that sucks air in through the little holes in the round base, pressurizing the magic ring, which is actually a hollow manifold with a circumferential output on its inside surface.  The air comes out in a particular direction and the resulting cone-shaped turbulence is all the same way, so it moves air.  This unscientific cutaway view is how I think it works.

There’s at least a buck’s worth of plastic in the whole thing, molded into various shapes plus an electric motor and some kind of fan (blade or squirrel cage) in the base.  It’s not even particularly quiet; I’ve heard conventional fans that made less noise.  In fact, the hissing noise is what directed my attention to the display in the first place. 

Confidential note to James Dyson: make the holes in the side bigger so it will be quieter (and move more air without clogging), make the base section around the squirrel cage removable so both it and the cage can be cleaned.  And you’ll probably make more money if you drop the price to seventy bucks.  And stop acting like you invented the cure for polio; you make overpriced fans and vacuum cleaners.

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  1. May 30, 2010 at 06:17 | #1

    We like our Dyson vac a lot.  It was a refurb purchased at Big Lots, so very reasonable in price.  Way cheaper than a Kirby or Rainbow.

  2. May 30, 2010 at 07:34 | #2

    Kirby… speaking of overpriced vacuums. 

    Dyson does some clever engineering, no doubt, in an industry that could use some.  But the price differential between a Toyota and a Mercedes is only about 3x; between a regular fan and a Dyson fan is about 14x.  That makes “extended warranties” and other retail ripoffs humble in comparison.

  3. May 30, 2010 at 12:39 | #3

    What’s the supposed benefit of these fans? If they’re supposed to be quiet, I have a better idea that will cost a lot less money – buy a bigger fan with a speed control. A larger fan can move the same amount of air at a lower speed, causing less air turbulence.

  4. May 30, 2010 at 13:20 | #4

    Well they look very cool, and they save us from the evil of “buffeting” from fans that have visible blades.  Plus you can’t cut your finger because the blades are hidden. 

    Of course as you say, big fans move a lot of air without much noise.  Many people mount them on the ceiling, where they make a room much more pleasant.

  5. Jim
    May 31, 2010 at 06:14 | #5

    The latest Consumer Reports looks at this fan. Summarizing their take on it: It’s cool, but save yourself $265 and buy a conventional fan.

  6. Neil
    June 1, 2010 at 16:40 | #6

    So…it’s a small sideways swamp cooler without the water and excelsior pads?

  7. June 5, 2010 at 12:44 | #7

    “What’s the supposed benefit of these fans?”

    If you could train a dachshund to jump through one that would be awesome.

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