Superfan Triumphs: Revolutionizing Indian Homes with the Ultimate Energy-Saving Fan

Prittle Prattle News diving deep with Dr. Mayur Sundararajan: The Genius Behind Superfan’s Eco-friendly Innovation

In a world grappling with the dual challenges of climate change and energy consumption, Superfan emerges as an evidence of innovation and sustainability. Dr. Mayur Sundararajan, CEO of Superfan, shares his journey of pioneering India’s first Brushless Direct Current (BLDC) fan, a breakthrough in energy-efficient home cooling. With a relentless focus on environmental stewardship and technological innovation, Dr. Sundararajan’s vision not only propels Superfan to the forefront of the eco-friendly appliance market but also sets a new standard for the industry.

What inspired the creation of Superfan? and what is the core mission?

Versa Drives as a business is about 35 years old. Among our core values as a company, being environmentally sustainable and having reco-friendliness are among them. When we were introduced to the problem of inefficiency in fans in India, we stumbled upon an article by an NGO named PRAYAS from Pune. They had written an article called ‘ Ceiling fans an overlooked appliance”. In that, they mentioned about 35 Crores fans in India, their impact on our electricity grid, and thereby, their impact on the environment. Roughly a fan emitted about 1.5 kg of COz every night of operation. We saw the scale of impact on the environment and society an optimal solution would potentially create, so we began developing the solution and made Superfan, India’s first super energy-efficient ceiling fan.

Dr. Sundararajan, could you discuss the journey of Superfan and how it has evolved since its inception?

Superfan was born through the motor, motor control, and embedded system expertise at Versa Drives Private Limited and the motivation to make products that potentially have a positive environmental impact. Before Superfan, calling fans consumed 75-80 W of electricity to deliver the required airflow. There were about 35 Crore fans in India, with about 4 crore sold yearly. This generated a demand of about 16 MW, which is about 20% of domestic electricity demand—in India, generating 1 unit results in about 1.5kg of CO2 emission and about 2 liters of freshwater pollution. The cost of building new electricity Generation plants stresses the taxpayers. All these implications pushed for the necessity of an energy-efficient solution for fans. This is where Versa Drives filled the gap with the launch of Superfan, which became India’s first ceiling fan. The older fans used a type of motor called an AC induction motor. We utilized a Brushless DC  motor (BLDC) to make a fan that delivered the same comfort at 35 W. Our initial intent with innovation was to supply to the popular brands in the fan industry. Still, none of them were willing, owing to the distrust in the market, to adopt a product that requires a higher initial investment with a much higher ROI, albeit later, and there was no pressure on them to launch something like this.

Since then, we began showing the Industry that this product can be sold in the Indian market; we started working with government agencies and NGOs on policies and regulations for fans to make the market landscape conducive for these kinds of energy-efficient fans. All these efforts resulted in the gradual adoption of these types of fans, popularly known as BLDC fans, and it culminated in the government making star labeling mandatory with a more stringent efficiency requirement. In 2012, we made a difference by working on the motor; by 2019, due to the shift in the market and the government mandates, all the popular brands reached close to the efficiency and performance of Superfan. Over the years after the launch, we began developing blades for fans as that was the next factor that determined the performance of fans, so in 2019, we released a new model, super O, which had Superfan’s patented BLDC motor with super efficient blades, to become so% more efficient them again any fan in the market. Ministry of Power, Govt. oF India Recognised this as the ‘Appliance of the year’ for being the most efficient fan in India. We have become a business that provides sustainable thermal comfort to consumers through practicing eco-friendly solutions in design, manufacturing, supply chain, packaging logistics, etc.

As a leader in energy-efficient technology, what were the major challenges in developing Superfan, India’s first BLDC fan?

BLDC motor technology never caught on with domestic fan applications because of its cost, complex manufacturing, interference with other systems in the grid, and lack of performance. Wo resolved all those issues and additionally made a fan that solved the issues faced in the existing regular fans by giving Superfan a remote, having a wide operating voltage, compatibility with investors, vibrant colors, a no-heat motor, and much more.

When we entered the market, there were no standards to test the fans or categorize them as efficient, which created a constraint for bulk institutional buyers. The industry has trained the market to be inefficient in sales and sales by lowering the product’s value. There needed to be a more basic understanding of fans; all these proved a challenge for a technology company like ours with a novel product that required selling by distribution.

What impact do you believe Superfan has had on energy consumption trends within India?

The launch of Superfan created a ‘Bannister effect.’ Once we showed that this is possible to sustain in the Market, new startups came up. They brought huge amounts of funding into the industry, and the other appliances began working on the motor. In general, it showed that Indian innovation can result in a product like an appliance rather than a service or software.

Could you demonstrate how the BLDC technology in Superfan works and its benefits compared to conventional fans?

A conventional fan uses a type of motor called an AC induction motor. This simpler design is easy to manufacture at scale but inherently inefficient. These motors have two sets of coils that constitute the construction to enable rotation. In simple terms, motors are clever magnet arrangements allowing rotational motion. If you have two magnets, they either repel or attract depending on the orientation when they are brought together. Attraction and repulsion are both motions; if these motions can be restricted to be rotary, then we have a motor. Another concept is that when there is a varying current in a wire, that wire also becomes a magnet. A varying magnetic field will generate a current in a wire if they are close, even without touching. So now, three concepts are combined to build motors. In an AC induction motor, there are two sets of winding. One of the windings is connected to the AC supply, so now an alternating current in the winding makes it a magnet, and this also induces a current in the other winding, which also now becomes a magnet. The way these windings are constructed, the two windings now act like a magnet and move rotationally, the AC induction motor works, and attaching blades to it becomes a fan. The moving post of the motor is called the rotor, and the other part is the stator.

Now, with BLDC motor fans, the motor is a type of motor called BLDC motor – Brushless Direct Current motor; here, one of the windings is replaced by permanent magnets, so now you require less electricity as you don’t have to power a second winding. The other winding, like in an AC induction motor, except it is powered with DC current varied ewing electronics hardware, then is a small computer with special S/W that sends the current in a specific way as required by the construction of the motor to rotate the motor.

This key difference makes the BLDC motor more efficient, as you can save the energy required for the other winding. In the other winding, one sends only the energy needed to move the motor as required.

If an AC induction motor fair runs for a few hours, it will become hot and cause injury if touched, whereas BLDC runs cool because the energy required to move is only used directly. There is no wastage of heat. The care of electronics hardware makes several other features possible, such as remote control, IoT interface, indicators, wide operating voltage, stable speed, and much more.

Superfan Awards

Superfan has won several awards globally and in India. Two of them are special to me; one is Dupont’s global sustainability award in 2017, and Dupont is one of the largest conglomerates in the world. They recognize powerful innovations everywhere across the globe. In 2017, Versa Drives was awarded the global sustainability award in the Australasia sector for building an energy-efficient solution and fearlessly bringing it to market. The winners are usually extremely large corporations 1000s times larger than Versa Drives. Still, the potential of saving trillions of units of electricity with our innovation is brought as the award.

The other is the Appliance of the Year award from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Power, Govt. of India. After the market of super energy efficient fans opened in 2020 due to impending mandatory Star labeling for ceiling fans, there was an influx of BLDC fans from all the large and popular fan brands. In that year, BEE looked at appliances that are significantly more energy-saving than the rest of the market, and they found that one of the Superfan models was 40-30% more efficient than any other fan in the market, even the BLDC fans. They gave this model, Super Q, the Appliance of the Year award for being the most efficient fan in India. Thus, in 2012, Superfan launched India’s first super energy-efficient fans, which became 50% more efficient than any fan in the market. In 2020, after everyone reached superfan efficiency, we made a fair that was 50% more efficient than any of them, and it was great to be recognized for it.

Could you shed light on the research and development process at Superfan, and how it is contributing to future innovations?
One of our other core values is ‘Do more with less’; we follow this principle in every aspect of our business, especially in design. We strive for an efficient solution to a problem without prejudice. Our design team comprises four verticals: Motor design, Electronics hardware, Firmware, and mechanical engineering. These four verticals enable me to develop any system involving any motor up to 10 HP. Regarding fans, we have core motor technology, blade technology, and fan design.
How does Superfan’s approach to sustainability influence its business practices and product development?
Our design approach includes using the least amount of material through efficient supply chain and manufacturing processes. We list design requirements aimed at sustainability in the environment. Our sustainability extends beyond the environment. We look for long-term relationships, financial stability, and value generation for all stakeholders, including members, associates, customers, consumers, society, and the nation.
What kind of support or policy changes do you think would most benefit the sector of super energy-efficient appliances in India?
One constraint on the penetration of super-efficient fans is their higher initial cost compared to regular fans. Considering the benefits of easing the higher-efficient option to the government in terms of future environmental reparation costs, current reductions in energy usage, and future energy infrastructure savings, they can lower the tax by 18% for 5-star fans.
Government-affiliated entities like EESL are looking to increase the penetration of BLDC by subsidizing them at the cost of manufacturers; they would result in a catastrophe to the industry, just like the Indian LED industry; the government can come up with a holistic solution for these actions.
Can you elaborate on the potential for India to become a global hub for fan design and manufacturing, and what steps are needed to achieve this?
India has the experience of making 5 Crores fans a year, which is a huge number compared to the others; coupled with super energy efficient innovation that began in India, we are poised to build the best farm for the world if we channel the industry towards, global standards and certain export and export policies should align for it. Most importantly, evidently huge players must have an interest.
How does Superfan plan to contribute to the knowledge-sharing initiatives for technicians that you mentioned in your statement?
We designed the Superfan to last longer, so we made it serviceable. Then, the electricians and technicians should know about the technology and construction of the fans to take care of it. We have the most experience servicing BLDC fans and the most knowledge in the fan industry on the system’s inner workings, so I am conducting educational meets for electricians and technicians with our seller network. Like everything else, we hope larger and more resourceful players in the industry can scale this to be a laser effort across the country.
Finally, looking to the future, what exciting developments can we expect from Superfan?
We are building a fan that will be 20% more efficient than Super Q to break our own record. The fan’s control interface has some innovations. We recently released a fan that has a home automation hub, so it is not only smart but also makes other appliances in the room smart. Then, we are working on new blade shapes that will redefine the thermal comfort of fans.
As we conclude our enlightening conversation with Dr. Mayur Sundararajan, it’s clear that Superfan is more than just a fan; it’s a testament to the power of innovation in addressing some of today’s most pressing environmental challenges. By prioritizing energy efficiency and sustainability, Superfan not only cools our homes but also ignites a brighter, greener future for generations to come.
Prittle Prattle News composed this article as an Interview.
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