Brumm Speaks Out: Winter ventilation mistakes

In early November, I had data loggers placed in production facilities in west central Minnesota to collect producer data for an upcoming ventilation workshop. In addition to logging temperatures every 2 minutes for a 7 day period, we collected information on the ventilation system, including inlets, fans, controllers and controller settings.

We've been putting data loggers in barns for over 10 years for workshops and the results always come back documenting both barns with correctly sized and operated components and barns with lots of mistakes in both design and management. With winter weather upon us let's talk about the common mistakes I saw in this and other data sets that result in higher than necessary fuel bills and ventilation systems that don't behave as expected.

Getting minimum ventilation correct is the key to keeping propane expenses in check. Both in the data from these loggers and from production sites I've been at this fall, a common installation error is to have the fan staging in the controller incorrect. In the sites I'm thinking about (5-600 head rooms), there have been 2-24" fans on stage 1 and only 1-24" fan on stage 2 with the curtain opening on stage 3.

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