Why Do We Use Belts?

It’s getting hot out, you turn on your AC, and everything works great for about an hour or two. Outside, your condenser reaches saturation, it’s cooling fan doesn’t budge, and soon the house is back to the sweltering mess it had been before. It’s unbearable, but there you are. Welcome to Summer, right? The Belt Drive There are a ton of applications where we need something to spin, whether it’s a fan, blower, or even the drum in a washing machine. We often use a belt to connect the blower and anything else back to a single motor. Eventually that belt gives out and needs to be replaced. This could be from simple wear and tear, rot, or even accidental damage, like running over a rope with a tractor, jamming up the mower deck blades, and then burning up the belt with friction. Belts offer a number of advantages though. They’re cheap to manufacturer, flexible, and can reduce the total number of parts a given machine needs. A belt can power multiple output devices, synchronize those output devices, and it frees up the designers to create different designs with fewer parts or more compact layouts than could otherwise be achieved. But WHY?! You could put the blower right on the motor! Belts also serve two other majorly attractive purposes in cutting down costs. A belt allows us to do gear reduction and it allows us to use some cheaper (but […]

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Why is There a Belt in the Furnace?

Is it weird that we use belt drives in furnaces? Belts aren’t necessarily known as the most durable or flame-resistant thing in the world. Why would we put a belt next to a roaring inferno? It’s 2018, why don’t we just bolt the motor straight to the fan, blower, or whatever it is we’re driving?   Gear Reduction Spinning blowers, fans, and other equipment requires a lot of mechanical power. At the same time, it can take more power to overcome the friction on a resting object, especially for heavier parts or equipment that’s not perfectly supported. There can be additional friction by such offset loads. Providing enough force to move this equipment requires bigger and bigger motors. Or does it? Physics is full of tricks. We can use a concept called Gear Reduction so that a smaller motor can get the job done. Instead of outputting a lot of power at once, we output less power, but more revolutions of the motor. For every 2 rotations of the motor, the blower might only spin once. This reduction requires the motor to spin faster to achieve the same result as a bigger motor, but it won’t need as much torque to do that work. The easiest way to see this concept in action is to look at a multi-speed bike. Your gears are different sizes to allow for different speeds. In low gear, it is incredibly easy to spin the […]

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Electrical Measurements Explained

What does 24 Volts, @ 15 amps mean? What is a watt? What’s a watt-hour? What about an amp-hour? These are all crucial ways of measuring how much electricity is present, at what rates, and just how much that electricity wants to move. We are going to be greatly simplifying these concepts, so as always, consult an electrician before working on or making any electrically involved decisions. Volts and Amps We’re going to start with the basics: What’s in the wire. The wires around you contain electrons. The movement of these electrons is electricity. When there is electricity, such as a light switch being turned on, electrons are moving through  the wire, creating magnetic fields and heat, among other things. Volts are the amount of force pushing those electrons. A low voltage source such as a double A battery has just enough force inside it to make electrons move through a wire. It doesn’t quite have enough force to shoot electrons into the air and make lightning like an industrial transformer could. The flow of these electrons is called Current, which we measure in Amps (amperes). It’s easiest to picture the current as a flow-rate, “one gallon per hour.” We can measure the total amount of amps with an Amp-Hour. For example, if we have a pump that needs 10 Amps to run, and it runs for One Hour, that it runs at 10 Amp-Hours. In 24 hours, it will […]

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Why Use a Hydraulic Actuator?

There are 3 principal ways to power an actuator. There’s electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic actuators. Generally speaking, the most expensive set up is going to be a hydraulic system. A single hydraulic actuator can cost ten times what a pneumatic or electrical one would. This begs the question, why would you buy something with such a premium?   Basics of Hydraulics This all starts with the simple fact that fluids don’t compress. You can put water in a sealed piston and push down on it, but all it will do is distribute that force to the walls of the piston. Maybe it’ll squeeze in by 1/1,000,000,000th of its volume, but in large part, one liter of fluid is going to always take up that volume. This is amazingly useful. It means we can use fluids as an almost universal connection. Think about it, to connect a powerful motor to anything, you need linkages, gears, chains, and bulky hardware. It’s noisy and takes up a ton of space. If you want to connect multiple devices to that motor, they all need to either run at the same time and speed or require complex gearboxes to connect or disconnect them. This would take up a ton of space and make our modern lives suck in innumerable ways. With a hydraulic system however, we can get around all this bulk. There can be one or two large motors, powered by anything that fits […]

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Weird But True: You can Air Condition a Computer

In this blog segment, we’re going to look at all the weird things you don’t expect to see in the HVAC Industry. Now, you might be expecting us to post something like a hand cranked air conditioner or maybe some weird sound-based chilling system. Well, not today! Today we’re going to talk about how you can air-condition a computer, because no one else in our circle of friends and competitors has!   WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? For computers, like many, many machines, cooling is essential. The little bits of silicon in your computer can run up to about 100 degrees Celsius before they start to lose performance. That’s about the redline on most CPUs. When it gets that hot, they start to throttle back and lose performance. You could go from blazing performance to a complete crawl until the system has cooled down. It’s just like if you got in your car, hit some infinitely straight road, had an infinite fuel supply, and floored it. At some point, the engine’s going to overheat because it wasn’t designed to run at max power for days on end. Your computer manages its own throttle, so at a point, it just says ‘no’. Most computers in your office and home aren’t going to see those temperatures and work loads. Like all things however, there are people who do hit that problem. There are people who scoff at the thought of a Mustang […]

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How Do Transformers Work?

So, transformers are these really cool robots that turn into cars, trucks, jets and the like. They usually end up breaking a major city, there’s some explosions, and a lot of screaming going on. It’s all because of this big war of the robots going on..   JUST KIDDING! You really thought I was gonna talk about robots when we have Electrical Transformers to talk about? No, no, no. These things are just too cool to pass up. We use them EVERYWHERE. Seriously, if you live in 21st Century USA and use electronics, you have at least one transformer, but more likely, probably dozens to hundreds of them. You need them in your washer, drier, computers, cell phone chargers, TVs, and so much more. It’s amazing.   The Problem Everything in the world runs on electricity, but the details about that electricity are different for nearly every device. Your home most likely receives AC Power from your local provider. In the US, that’s 120 VAC at 60 Hertz. What’s a little weird is that we transmit AC power everywhere, near every device in your home is run with DC Power. That’s alternating current versus direct current. So, we’re sending the wrong kind of power to your home or business, which can’t directly power your devices. It gets worse. The voltages are all different too. The processor in your computer needs multiple voltages. Generally at most, 1.35 Volts, plus some others. […]

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