Recently the price per can on the soda machines on campus went up to 75 cents. I drink about 2 cans per day, so the 25 cent increase adds up to a tangible amount for me over the course of a month. On the other hand, a 24 pack of soda is around $7. Along these lines, I used to bring in my own soda and at one point bought a small “refrigerator”. it’s not a real fridge, just a plug in six pack cooler, but it seemed practical for the need. It worked for a while before the cheap fan on the peltier style cooling system crapped out and started making awful noises and randomly stopping. I could have just re-lubed it, but it would have gotten bad again.. so I stashed it under my desk and forgot about it until the recent price hike.
So the other day I dug this guy out and set out to find a quality replacement fan for it. Its a standard 80mm fan, just like computer power supplies and cases, so there were many options. While trying to find the cheapest ball bearing unit available, I stumbled across the Enermax Enlobal which is “bearingless” – the fan blade assembly contains a magnet which causes it to “hover” over the armature. The implications are that there is very much less friction than a traditional fan, and thusly, less power usage and less noise. This seemed ideal for my minifridge – I wanted it to be quiet since it’s right next to my desk. The airflow figure was good as well. I went with Amazon, as linked above, since their price was as good as most of the other places I found the 80mm enlobal online and I’ve been on a big Amazon purchasing kick lately. It was $14 and change shipped.
The fan showed up earlier than expected, and I went to work putting it in the fridge. The Enlobal has a three wire connector (with a 4 wire adapter included), but my fridge only had two wires, so I clipped the white speed control wire, soldered it up and put some shrink tubing over everything. That’s really all there was to it. I put everything back together and fired it up. True to the marketing materials, the fan moved air and was exceptionally quiet. (I think 14db is the advertised number). So far it works like a champ.
I think this is some solid technology that is not only more efficient, and more quiet than ball or sleeve bearing fans, but depending on production numbers could be less expensive than it’s traditional counterparts since it just has fewer parts. Another big plus is that the blade assembly easily pops off for cleaning. All of that along with a MTBF rating of 300,000 hours, this just can’t be beat.