By Pamenus Tuso
As temperatures continue to soar in Zimbabwe, a lot of organisations and household owners have now resorted to natural wind powered turbine ventilators to cool their homes and buildings.
As a result of global warming, Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries in SADC region have been experiencing record high temperatures. Some areas have been experiencing a record 44 degrees Celsius.
As a form of adaptation to this natural phenomenon, individual home owners and organisations such churches, schools and companies have up scaled the installation of natural ventilation devices.
The most commonly used natural building cooling system these days is the Tornado wind master turbine ventilators. The turbine ventilators are round metal vents with fins in them. A little bit of wind is just enough for the turbo ventilator to rotate.
The faster the wind speed, the faster the turbine will rotate.
The Tornado series of roof ventilation systems which are designed and manufactured in South Africa use natural wind power to pull warm air up and out of the building.
Mark Stephenson, the Managing Director of a Bulawayo based company which supplies the gadgets said his company has been overwhelmed by customers who wanted to buy the devices.
“Since we started supplying the wind powered ventilation devices last year, demand has been on the increase especially from warehouse owners, schools, companies, supermarkets and food outlets owners. The advantage of the ventilators is that they reduce cooling costs because the system only requires wind to function efficiently,” said Stephenson in an interview.
Stephenson said the natural cooling system is most ideal in factories, workshops, change houses and assembly halls as well as other building structures which require effective ventilation.
“The other positive extraction of the turbine ventilators is that they eliminate dust penetration and a down –draught into the building to ensure a cleaner and healthier working environment. The ventilator is simply activated by natural convection from the inside of the building and also allows it to be assisted by the wind outside. Wind creates a flow of air through the throat of the Tornado to enhance extraction,” explained Stephenson.
The wind turbo ventilators come in different sizes. A single windmaster Tornado unit costs between $70 and $500 depending on the size.
The ventilators are mounted on the highest point of the building‘s roof.
A wind turbine ventilator technician, Terrence Dube said the size , number and installation depend on different factors which include wind velocity, temperature differential, environment conditions as well as the size of the building.
Dube said while there is a significant uptake in turbine air vents in Zimbabwe especially in the agriculture sector , industrial buildings and warehouses, individual house owners are still not eager to embrace this cheaper and clean cooling system technology.
“It is concerning that many people continue to spend a lot of money buying electricity to power fans and air-conditioners when there is an option of wind assisted ventilation. Most of my clients are industrialists, wholesalers and supermarket owners. Some churches and a few individuals have also contracted me to install the devices on their properties,” said Dube.
The technicians said roof top ventilators have got several advantages.
“Wind propelled roof top ventilators do not need any electricity to be powered. They are located such that they exhaust the hottest air first and they do not cause harm to the environment. They also save a lot of money because there is no operating cost plus they are maintenance free, ”he said.
Dube added that ventilators are made in such a way that they are rainwater and bird proof.