The Canadian company Caframo run a pretty aggressive promotional campaign – especially their official distributor in England. The Ecofan owners don’t hesitate to call other models cheap Chinese knockoffs or controversially claim that no one else have genuine safety certificates. Just to make it clear: we’re not going to prove they’re right or not, we just want our customers to have all the information they might need to make the right purchase decision. Our customers are always at the center of our reviews.
Caframo was the pioneering company who introduced and popularised stove fans as an unequivocally smart solution for evenly distributing heat from a wood stove. The Canadian based Caframo was the very first company to invest in the innovative but very little known technology – they took the risk and they won! Since then many other companies, particularly in Europe, have created their own models and even developed the technology a few steps further. Caframo have a lot dedicated customers who trust in their experience and service. The Caframo Ecofans are still the most popular stove fans among US and Canadian customers. They are not so popular in Europe, particularly in the UK.
Where are the Ecofans made?
Many customers on both sides of the Atlantic tend to avoid buying Chinese products in order to support local business. For those who care there’s no good news here as the Caframo Ecofans are most likely made in China and then assembled in Canada. The business is a privately owned Canadian manufacturing company but the Ecofans aren’t manufactured in either Canada or the USA. This shouldn’t count against them, as the fans are designed in Canada and the quality is guaranteed by the name of Caframo.
What is the Actual Airflow of the Ecofan?
Unlike a few other manufacturers Caframo never jumped on the bandwagon of rating their products with 10%, 30% or even 90% higher airflow. Instead Caframo published the graph that was to prove that the most powerful stove fans are, of course, Ecofans. In fact, gauging the stove fan’s airflow is a pretty complicated process. Laboratory equipment is needed to precisely assess the airflow. Yet, the value itself will not tell you anything about angle of the airflow cone, which is rather desired in wider rooms, whereas a narrow but strong stream of air is needed to push the heat farther.
Where Should the Ecofan Actually be Placed?
As with other fans using TEG modules for the source of power, the placement is a crucial factor in getting the most out of the fan and avoiding damage. These fans work on a pretty simple rule: the larger the temperature discrepancy between the upper and lower section of the fan the better. See our post on the Seebeck effect if you wish to investigate this topic a bit more. The most effective position then, would be where the heat sink of the fan sits on the hottest part of the stove and the relatively cooler air can flow through the fins of the top section. This is why the fans’ manufacturers advise you place the fan at the very back of the stove top and as far away as possible from the flue pipe. The flue is often the hottest part of a working stove, so placing a fan in its proximity is not a good idea. Hence the advice – never, ever leave a fan powered by a TEG module in front of the hot flue pipe. If you do, it’s only a matter of time before it will damage the most important parts of these fans.
Is it actually a downside of the Ecofans?
Well, all fans with a Peltier module lose this point to the Stirling engine powered fans which can be placed anywhere on the stove.
All Caframo stove fans can have their motor replaced with a replacement kit, which is available if they break down after their warranty. Nearly all manufacturers offer a replacement kit for their fans or provide an inexpensive refurbishment service.
By the way, there’s an interesting issue related to the Ecofan warranty. As the Ecofans are distributed through the official partners only, your warranty claim won’t be accepted if you bought your Ecofan from an unofficial seller or an online auctioner. Things go really bad if you bought the Caframo fan abroad for a reasonable price, as you will need to send your fan back to the official distributor in that country to have it repaired. This might sound strange, but the official distributors have their own warranty policy which varies from one country to another, so, an Ecofan bought in Ireland is covered by a 1 year warranty, whereas UK customers are granted two years’ warranty for the same product (unless there's a multiplied mistake on the Irish official website)!
Every Ecofan model is available with three blade colors to choose from. It's great to have a choice but this feature is rather useless when the fan is running.
The vast majority of Peltier fans are fitted with some kind of safety device to protect them from overheating. This solution is missing in the Caframo Ecofans. Stove fans like the Phoenix or Valiant have a bimetallic strip fitted in the base which bends when exposed to the temperature and tilts the fan at 250 centigrade so the fan’s body is pushed away from the stovetop. The Sirocco fans have a few tiny screws in the bottom of the fan so it can be lifted from the hot stove surface with the use of an Allen key provided – by the way, this solution comes in handy if the stove’s top is sloped – the screws can be used to level the stove fan. Admittedly, no matter what safety device is applied the Peltier fans must be removed if the stove gets over 340 centigrade.
Caframo offers an array of different models to fit individual restrictions and preferences, and the variety of stoves. They are sturdy and solid products that simply can't be made cheaply, so they aren’t. Actually, the Caframo Ecofans are one of the most expensive stove fans powered by the heat converted into electricity.