Simple, Stylish, Effective, Cleaner, Better Fans; Air Multiplier – Dyson Does It Again

Yes, the Dyson Air Multiplier fans do as advertised, and then some.  By design, they are safer, cause no buffeting of the emitted air and are cleaner, without blades, exposed motor, or a “cage” that all gather dirt.

I’ve parked elsewhere my desk side Vornado, replaced by a white, 10-inch (model AM01) Dyson, also available in silver.  This model pivots on its base to offer a 10º up or down tilt range. In addition, there is infinitely variable speed and a 90º oscillating function that can be switched on and off.

Out of the box, the top, open piece, called a loop amplifier snaps with a click onto the base, which contains the motor, drawing in air through holes all around the area just below the middle of the circular part below the air emitter area at the top. The top image above shows the assembled product.

In use, one immediately notices the lack of buffeting air.  It is a bit noisier than some other fans on its lowest setting.  It seems quieter on it highest setting than the highest setting on the Vornado which it is replacing for this evaluation.  At its lowest setting, sound from the Vornado is barely detectable, but this setting is considerably lower than that of which the Dyson is capable.

One cannot overlook the benefit of having no blades nor the need for protective, even beneficially engineered covers over them.  In constant use now for more than two months, there is barely any dirt to wipe off.  Compared to any other conventional fan, well, there is no comparison in the dirt contest. Using a clean, white cloth, wetted with plain water, I wiped off the inside of the loop amplifier to find only minimal amounts of dirt transferred to the cloth.

Next, I disconnected the base from the top for a look inside.  Again, there was only minimal visible dirt with only trace evidence transferred during its wipe down.  Around the upright base on this white model could be seen signs of small amounts of dirt beginning to accumulate in the many hundreds of tiny air inlet holes, which is to be expected.  Using the brush tool of our Dyson upright vacuum, this dirt was easily removed and the entire assembly was returned to its as-new clean appearance after a quick wipe down.

Just for comparison and because I’ve become accustomed to this fan over its previous placeholder, I re-instated the Vornado (a no-longer available model 550 with infinitely variable speeds). Forgetting that it does not offer oscillation, what could not be forgotten is the dirt that accumulates.  Though relatively easy to clean, cleaning is still a time consuming exercise.  How long does one wait before cleaning a conventional fan?  Likely too long!

I’ve used and recommended Vornado fans for more years than I can recall.  They are fine products and represent good value.  The current compact model 530, a three-speed unit with about a seven-inch grill diameter, most closely compares in general performance of this Dyson, yet costs only about $40 (retail price).  However, with several similar models distributed throughout Gadget Central and sent off to college with each of the Gadget Kids I can attest to the drudgery of keeping them clean (the same would be true of any fan conventional design technology, though these Vornados are designed to come apart with ease).  This entails unsnapping the front of the cage and pulling the plastic blade assembly from the motor shaft, then washing both, either in the sink or dishwasher.  It takes time for them to dry, as well.  The fan base with motor and the back of the cage are taken outside and thoroughly dusted off with a large and a small paintbrush.  Here, a can of compressed air is employed to blow out the dirt that accumulates alongside the motor base, deep where brushes cannot easily go. It would not be safe to wet the base and motor area of this or any fan with electric components that could come in contact with liquid.

Safety concerns on a conventional fan are overstated, in my view.  The cages surrounding the blades all do a fine job of not admitting little fingers.  The surface areas of the cages and blades, however, are simply dirt magnets on any conventional fan.  Vornado’s cage is engineered to produce a vortex action of emitted air, allowing a stronger, more concentrated flow over a greater distance.

The buffeting affect cannot be ignored, however.  Several papers were strategically placed on my desktop, from long grocery store receipts to assorted work papers.  Even at its highest speed setting and set in oscillation mode, the Dyson Air Multiplier can be positioned to provide its sweeping jet of unbuffetted air so as to provide the pleasant effect of moving air about me but not to disturb the papers.  The Vornado does not oscillate nor can it be set with such air volume emitted in my direction so as to avoid disturbing those same papers.  Admittedly, this is no scientific trial, but the Dyson Air Multiplier proved to be more useful and beneficial at doing the job of moving air in this situation than the previous standard by which I measured excellence.

The gentle sweeping motion not only helps keep me comfortable at my desk, but it also blows across the big heat-generating Mac Pro computer next to me.  That heat is now blown away from me during the Dyson’s oscillating sweep.  The oscillating, moving air also seems to have a positive affect upon the internal operating temps of the computer.

Where this and the 12-inch Dyson models cannot be favorably compared with the Vornado offerings is the distance air is moved. Vornado’s unique vortex action throws noticeable air, even on the compact model 530 set on its highest speed, to a distance of up to 65 feet.  Dyson’s two smallest Air Multipliers throw noticeable air less than about half that distance.  Still, it is amazing to be the recipient of air from the Dyson that seemingly delivers it from nowhere but a big hoop.

Vornado’s offerings in this approximate size are said to be able to move air throughout the room when aimed high and central, and they do a good job at this, with relatively low noise.  Compare and contrast to Dyson’s smallest models that seem better suited to move air within a smaller area; a more personal fan, and with more noise.

How does Dyson accomplish this feat?  In simplest terms, the fan motor below (with blades!), in the base, directs air upward and into the innards of the loop amplifier.  That air naturally follows the contours inside the loop and is emitted along the back of, the inside loop through a narrow and barely visible slit.  Note from the photo above that the front of the loop flares to a larger diameter than the inner area, the part from which the air is forced out.  What cannot be easily seen in photo is the flat area immediately out of the air exit circle nor the additional flat area near the outward extremity of the “cone” just before the assembly takes a steep outward turn to the finishing angle. The precise design and contour of these parts creates the strong outward flow, the smooth and variable flow without the buffeted air created when an exposed fan blade throws air.  Here is another good (better?) explanation.

The simplicity and elegant design of the Dyson are winners, to be sure.  Absent consideration of the product cost to the consumer, it’s tough to not like, admire and desire what Mr. Dyson has accomplished here.  I am quite pleased with all aspects of performance.  At what price?  Like Dyson vacuums, these are premium products unlike any others in existence.  And, like other Dyson products, they have advantages over competitors.  Consumers who value these advantages and differences will not balk at the premium price commanded by these fans, er, Air Multipliers, which start at a suggested retail price of $300 for the 10-inch model I’ve been testing.  Online pricing found today shows this model available for about $50 less.  The 12-inch model suggests a price of $330 while the recently announced large and powerful tower and pedestal models command $450 each.

Externally bladeless or not, easily cleaned or not, etc., it and other fans are, at the end of the day, devices for moving air.  I like the way these Dyson products move air!

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