© Marcel Bonte; Illustration: Gernot Walter

Fans helping to change the world

It’s small, quiet and unob­tru­sive — and makes the world a little better. The Speed­com­fort radi­ator fan helps circu­late heat from heating systems faster and more uniformly while signif­i­cantly reducing CO2 emis­sions and cutting energy consump­tion by up to 30 percent.

Anton van den Broek had the idea for the little helpers seven years ago. “Many people in my neigh­bor­hood live in old, very poorly insu­lated houses,” he says. “They don’t have much money, but they have to pay a lot for energy. I wanted to help them lower those costs by reducing their energy consump­tion.” His idea was a radi­ator fan comprising three fans and mounted under the radi­ator to quickly and uniformly distribute the heat. But at first his idea couldn’t be imple­mented due to a lack of funds.

Over lunch two and a half years ago, he told his coworker Pieter van der Ploeg about his idea. Van der Ploeg is managing director of “GO!”, a company that boosts the energy effi­ciency of apart­ment build­ings. Van der Ploeg was convinced right away. “I decided to take up the idea and imple­ment it,” he says. He went to work with the engi­neers Arnold Halbertsma and Henk de Groot and devel­oped the Speed­com­fort radi­ator fan. The three got together every Tuesday after­noon to work on the product.

Envi­ron­men­tally friendly Euro­pean produc­tion

For the heart of the appli­ca­tion, the three fans, they imme­di­ately chose ebm-papst. The two engi­neers had worked for a long time in the venti­la­tion sector and knew the fan specialist well. And the start-up wanted envi­ron­men­tally friendly, Euro­pean produc­tion.

Pieter van der Ploeg presenting the award for the greenest idea of the Nether­lands (Photo | Marcel Bonte)

The product they chose was a DC axial fan. “To cool a room, you need a lot of air flow. But if you only want to circu­late the air better, you don’t want to feel any wind,” explains van der Ploeg. To keep the speed as low as possible, ebm-papst in St. Georgen redesigned the winding. And the team installed the fans for the appli­ca­tion, which are normally used for LED cooling, in a rectan­gular housing instead of a round one.

Every­thing went very quickly. Van der Ploeg and the two engi­neers began plan­ning in the spring of 2015. Imple­men­ta­tion with ebm-papst began in July, and in November the proto­type of the Speed­com­fort radi­ator fan had already won the prize for Holland’s greenest idea. That put the company under pres­sure. “We began sales in the web shop in December, two months earlier than planned,” says van der Ploeg. “That was tough, but it was also a sign that the market had been waiting for a product like this.” Series produc­tion began in January 2016.

Simple instal­la­tion

A key to the product’s success is certainly its simple instal­la­tion. Anyone can click it into place under a radi­ator using four magnets and then plug it in. The device has a built-in temper­a­ture sensor and starts running as soon as the radi­ator reaches a temper­a­ture of 35 degrees. Then the three fans assist the flow of warm air and circu­late it uniformly throughout the room. It can barely be heard and makes the room more comfort­able. The Speedcomfort’s oper­ating cost is only 16 cents per year.

That’s how Speed­Com­fort works:

Sustain­able in every way

It also reduces the heating system’s flow temper­a­ture signif­i­cantly. Normally the resi­dents have to set the water temper­a­ture in their heating systems to 80 degrees to warm up the room slowly, but with the Speed­com­fort radi­ator fan, 60 degrees is enough for a warm and cozy home. That means less oil, gas or coal is needed for heating, and house­holds can use up to 30 percent less energy. And the world bene­fits from lower CO2 emis­sions. If one quarter of the house­holds in the Nether­lands would use the Speed­com­fort system, the little country on the North Sea could cut CO2 emis­sions by a billion kilo­grams.

“With Speed­com­fort, we’ve devel­oped a product that’s sustain­able in every way,” says van der Ploeg. The unit consists of mate­rials produced with renew­able resources. The manu­fac­turer has also set itself some social goals: Speed­com­fort is assem­bled by people with mental or phys­ical hand­i­caps who would be unable to partic­i­pate in normal job market.

Coming soon to Germany

Thus far, the radi­ator fan is only avail­able in three models in Holland and Belgium. Pieter van der Ploeg hopes to be able to sell it in the German market soon; there­fore, he is looking for sales part­ners, who ideally should share the same grand vision: “We want to make the world better, reduce our CO2 emis­sions and stop climate change.”

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Additional product information can be found here:

Axial compact fans

High air performance with moderate pressure build-up