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Upgrading the fan in your DMX Intelligent Lighting Fixtures

Posted on Jan 28, 2011 by Paul White

The title should be pretty self explanatory.  We have 16 Mighty Scan fixtures.  These fixtures have the fans mounted on the outside of the body. which makes changing them very easy.  After some observations I concluded that the stock OEM fans are crap.  So I decided to upgrade the fan to something with a little more beef.

American DJ Mighty Scans

The Mighty Scan is an excellent fixture.  However I have noticed that the latest batch of bulbs from devine lighting seems to run hotter than the stock bulbs.  The result was higher operating temperatures, which caused the bulb sockets to burn out, and the bulbs to go out prematurely.  The Mighty Scans use a standard 12 Volt 80mm fan.  Even though I could order an OEM replacement from American DJ, when I googled the model number of the stock fans, all I got was some weird listings on some Chinese websites.  I couldn't find any information about the stocks fans which would give me an idea of what kind of air flow American DJ thought was needed when they designed the fixtures.  I even called American DJ tech support to see if they knew what the specs of the fans were and they didn't know.  One thing was obvious. The bearings in these fans were not ball bearing, they were sleeve which has a poor life span under high operating temperatures.  I Imagine that sleeve fans were picked because they tend to be quieter than ball bearing fans, plus they are very cheap. You can get Sleeve fans for $2-$3 on some sites.

Why upgrade the fans in your DMX Lights?

Unless you own some of the newer LED based fixtures which generate little to no heat, its likely that your fixtures use either HTI discharge bulbs, or Halogen bulbs.  Either way these bulbs make a lot of heat.  From my experience with computers I know that circuits go bad when they are exposed to high temperatures.  The bulbs in your DMX lights are designed to last for a certain amount of time.  Some bulbs only last 50 hours, while others can last up to 2000 hours.  However it might be possible to get your bulbs to last even longer if you provide additional cooling.  I am assuming that American DJ did not put the most powerful fans in these fixtures when they engineered them.  They provided just enough air flow to get the job done, and to keep them quiet.  Heat is your fixture's worst enemy.  The more heat you can remove from the fixture, the longer they will last.  My theory is that by upgrading the fans on an Intelligent lighting fixture you will get the following benefits.

Increased Bulb Life

If you can keep the bulb cooler, then theoretically it should last longer.

Increased Fan Life

By using Ball Bearing Fans instead of the sleeve bearings, the fans will last longer and be more resistant to dirt.

Less man hours to clean the fixtures.

Since the fans will keep going through even the thickest dust, this will result in less frequent cleaning of the fixtures.

High Flow 80mm fan

Even though I came across the legendary Vantec 80mm fans which spin at 5700 RPM, moving 84.1 CFM, they also create 55.2 dBA of noise.  Even though I am sure our club stereo will easily out power these fans.  when you consider I am looking to upgrade the fans in 40 fixtures, this could all add up, and I don't want our employees or customers to suffer hearing loss.  Plus 99% of the reviews on newegg.com made reference to the extremely loud noise these generated, which detered me from going to the extreme.

Panasonic NMB-MAT 80mm case fan

This is the fan I finally settled on.  It runs at 3450 RPM, moves 46.9 CFM, and only created 38.2 dBA of noise.  They also have a Hydro Wave bearing that has a minimal life of 50,000 hours.  From reading out this type of bearing online it would seem these could almost last forever.  I ordered 4 of them, and will install these in 4 of our American DJ Mighty Scan Fixtures that have been giving us the most trouble.  If these fans turn out to be the silver bullet, I will be upgrading all 40 of our fixtures to these fans.  I will update this post when the fans get in and I have them installed.

Update 2/5/2011
These were supposed to be here on 2/3/2011, but Houston hit freezing temperatures, and this delayed the package.  This is one time where I really wish I had picked faster shipping.  I can't wait to try these fans out!

Update 2/8/2011
The Fans finally arrived.  I switched out the fan on our American DJ Mighty Scan.  Honestly the Noise level 38 dBA is nothing.  That was a slight concern of mine.  I am starting think I should have gone with the Vertec Tornados which move 84 CFM vs the 49 CFM these move.  I really didn't notice any major difference in air flow when comparing to the stock sunon fans.  I was going to try these on the High End Systems Trackspots but the trackspots take a 24 Volt Fan, and not a 12 Volt fan. 

If you are looking to upgrade the cooling on your Intelligent lights I highly recommend these fans.  The noise level they make is very acceptable. If noise won't both you, then I would recommend the Vertec Tornadoes.  Just keep in mind the Vertec's are 38mm thick and not 25mm thick.  This wouldn't be a problem with the mighty scans since the fans are mounted on the external of the case.  But with interally mounted fixtures the vertecs might not fit.  I have not yet tested the vertecs.  In the distant future I might have to buy 1 to try it out.

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