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mechanical cooling fan vs electric

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by mountaineerbeast, August 3, 2011.

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  1. mountaineerbeast

    mountaineerbeast Active Member

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    I know that mechanical cooling fans rob power from your engine and electric cooling fans are more desirable. I also know that electric cooling fans are better in the city because a mechanical cooling fan runs at the speed of the engine (unless it's a 2 speed fan). With this in mind, i would assume that mechanical fans are better on the highway than electric because of the higher speed.

    Isn't there a higher chance of an electric cooling fan failing (...the new explorers with failing cooling fans) than a mechanical one that's on all the time?

    Has anybody on this forum ever had an emergency electric cooling fan while still keeping the mechanical one?

    What about in the desert? Wouldn't the mechanical fan be better because it's always on?

    So the final question is, which fan is better?

    Also, is there such a thing as too much engine cooling?
     
    Last edited: August 3, 2011
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  3. Lube

    Lube Active Member

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    At hiway speeds, neither fan is better than the other due to the vehicle speed moving the air through the radiator, not the fan. Above about 35 MPH, neither type does anything at all but impede airflow. The power taken to turn a fan pales to insignificance compared to what it takes to run the A/C (about 25 HP) or power steering. You'd never notice it unless you were racing, and maybe not then.

    Not really. Both can and do fail. In the case of the mechanical fan, the clutch can wear out (recommended replacement is every 5 years). The water pump can seize, etc. Electrics can die from motor burnout, or may not come on because the switch and relay controlling it die.

    Doubtful due to cooling requirements and the limited amount of real estate on a radiator to mount things.

    Of far more importance in a hot environment is a clean, well maintained cooling system. Neither type is "preferable" over the other given what you're talking about here.
    Now, with that said there ARE times when an electric fan is desirable. An example - 3rd generation V8 Camaro's and Firebirds had an electric fan with a very high turn on point (260 or so degrees). Absolutely NO space for a mechanical fan, so most folks wired in a switch to manually turn the fan on or off.

    So the final question is, which fan is better?[/QUOTE]
     
  4. rickybobby

    rickybobby Well-Known Member

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    there are several threads where people are gaining fuel economy with an electric fan, but that is the only advantage i see
     
  5. my98nnj

    my98nnj Well-Known Member

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    The fan that the engineers put in your vehicle is most likely your best bet
    The T-stat takes care of keeping the engine at the correct temperature.
     
  6. BubbaFL

    BubbaFL Active Member

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    That depends what you want. The stock mechanical cooling fan does what it was designed to do. It's a simple setup that has proven reliable on countless vehicles.

    An electric fan gives you (potentially) more control, but is by nature a more complex system and has more components that can fail and cause your car to overheat. The advantage is being able to do things like increase airflow at idle, which would make your A/C work better on hot summer days, or being able to turn the fan off completely on the highway or on cold days (saving fuel).
     
  7. waskly

    waskly Well-Known Member

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    yes, you can over cool an engine that it will never be at operating temp.
     
  8. SoNic67

    SoNic67 Well-Known Member

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    Mechanical fan is 10 times more reliable than electrical one. Sure, you can "stop" electricity to an electrical fan on highway, but it will still spin due to the airflow thru radiator and will still reduce the total airflow.
    There is a way to install a suplemental radiator with an electric fan to supplement the cooling (under mechanical fan, horizontally). Is it worth the trouble? I don't think so...
     
  9. 2000StreetRod

    2000StreetRod Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    cooling fan drive type opinions

    Many electrically driven cooling fans provide inadequate cooling in warm weather city stop and go driving. The more powerful the electric motor to drive the cooling fan the greater the current draw on the alternator. For any given amount of air flow the efficiency of an electric cooling fan is probably less than a mechanical one because it involves two conversions of energy (mechanical to electrical for the alternator and electrical to mechanical for the cooling fan motor). The main reason for switching to an electrical cooling fan is to gain fuel efficiency by running at the minimum airflow required. This can be achieved by a multi-speed fan or intermittent fan operation or a combination of both.

    The reliability of an electrical cooling fan system is dependent on the quality of components and the capacity of the system. I believe the components on my 1996 Volvo 850 turbo wagon are original and it works fine. The clutch on mechanical systems degrades with age but doesn't usually suddenly fail so it is erroneously assumed to be more reliable than a well designed factory electrical cooling system.

    I don't remember seeing any posts describing one. There isn't much room in front of the radiator for a pusher fan to supplement the mechanical puller fan.

    A factory electrical fan is thermostatically controlled and would also run continuously if needed.

    With the current readily available aftermarket electrical systems:
    Mechanical for off road, desert, towing, city driving in hot weather;
    Electrical for highway driving, cool weather city driving.

    Many Explorers (such as mine) came stock with a single row 1 inch thick radiator. Some came with a double row 2 inch thick radiator. I replaced my single row with a double row. The thermostat is the primary component that controls engine temperature. With a functional thermostat of the correct temperature too much cooling is only a problem in extremely cold weather when even though the thermostat is closed the air moving thru the engine bay cools the engine even though no engine coolant is flowing thru the radiator.
     
  10. num5golden

    num5golden New Member

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    I agree the electrical fan is convenient as far as shutting it off in colder weather. The clutch fan on my 03 shortsport is always drawing a little bit of air through the radiator, so when winter comes it seems like my ex never gets up to full operating temperature and even just the heater steals heat from the engine. I just take a piece of cardboard and tape it over the front of my radiator with 3 evenly spaced slits in it allowing about 15 percent of its natural air flow to it to make sure it stays cool when it needs it
     
  11. CDW6212R

    CDW6212R Hauls the mail. Elite Explorer

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    With an electric fan it is possible to change the operating temperature with the controller for the fan. You might choose to run a little warmer in Winter, say 180, while 160 during Summer, all with a 160 T-stat.

    The best answer is this, more components usually means less reliability. A very reliable electric fan is tough to put create as an added item. Unless you are committed to doing it right, spending a decent chunk of money, stick with the stock fan. Regards,
     






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