Howden North America’s Fan Engineering Handbook

I realized the other day that the Reading and Resource list I posted does not contain information on Howden North America’s  Fan Engineering Handbook, so I’ll use this post to draw your attention to that valuable resource, which is pictured below. 

Fan Engineering

Incidentally, folks my age and older may know this book as the Buffalo Fan Engineering Manual.  I believe Howden North America aquired Buffalo Forge at one point, thus the name change.  If you look at the copyright page, it shows Howden Buffalo as the publisher.

Some have observed that the book looks a bit like a bible;  the fact is that it is kind of the “bible” of fan physics and application.  Howden North America’s Fan Engineering handbook is somewhat of a classic in the industry.  The first copy I owned is from the early 1970’s;  I picked it up in a used book store at some point after coveting the copy one of my mentors had, which they generously allowed me to borrow. The copy in the picture is the 9th edition, published in 1999.  However, the book has its roots in work by Dr. Willis Carrier, and was first published in 1914.

I bring all of this up because I recently discovered that Howden has made it much easier to obtain a copy of the book.   Specifically, if you follow the links on their web site, or simply click on this link, you will be take to an page where you can purchase new or used copies.


The only used copy offered on as I write this is going for $85, which is still a good deal considering the content.   But, I suspect you can find copies for less by shopping around a bit on the internet or used book stores.  For instance, I just found a copy of the 8th edition (1983) for $22.99 on the Alibris web site.  Since the principles behind Newtonian physics have not changed much since 1983, I suspect the used 1983 edition represents a good value for someone on a budget. 

Having said that, read on as there are some advantages to getting the latest edition.  Interestingly enough, you will notice that the price range for a new copy, currently at least, is from $100 (directly from Howden) to $189 (from a reseller).  My thought is that unless the reseller has a copy signed by Willis Carrier, you’re probably better off ordering from Howden.

What’s not so obvious from the web site is that if you e-mail Howden at before ordering, you can specify your prefernce for an electronic copy of the handbook as a CD instead of the paper copy.  This alone may be worth the price of obtaining the latest copy for a number of reasons I discussed in a previous post, including portability, searchability, physical storage space and weight (especially when traveling), and sustainability.  But, the electronic version of the Fan Engineering Handbook complements all of these features by including interactive content.

Here is a screen shot of the table of contents, which is the starting point for using the electronic version and also illustrates the wealth of information available in the handbook  (both electronic and paper copies).


Clicking on the highlighted topic Fan Testing takes you to the content of the chapter.


Clicking on the hyperlink for the chapter takes you to a bookmarked summary of the chapter content, from which you can jump to the topic of interest.



You’re probably thinking “that’s all nice and everything, but every well structured electronic document does this sort of thing”.  And while that’s true, the electronic version of Fan Engineering has done a very thorough job of it by providing hyperlinks that take you to related relevant content elsewhere in the handbook.  For instance, in the actual handbook, clicking on the equation hyperlinks shown in blue above will take you to those equations, which are in a different chapter.

But better still, the manual includes spreadsheets pertinent to the various topics discussed.  For instance, if while working with the electronic version of the handbook, you click on the little calculator/spreadsheet icon illustrated in the screen shot above, the following Excel spreadsheet opens up.


This is a spreadsheet that assesses flow rate based field data from a pitot tube traverse.  Note that it is set up for both IP (U.S.) and SI (metric) units.  If you wonder exactly how to use it, you just page down a bit.


If you are wondering exactly how the calculations are done, you can simply highlight a cell, and view the formula, just like you can in any other Excel spreadsheet.


If you wonder what some of the “funny” symbols mean, then just use the electronic table of contents to jump to the Appendix of Symbols and Abbreviations


… or use the hyperlinks or .pdf search function to jump to one of the referenced equations (click on the binoculars or press“Ctrl” and “F” together to get a little search window where you can type in what you are looking for).


One word of caution;  as near as I can tell, the spreadsheets are not protected.  In other words, you should save a copy to your project directory using the “Save As” feature of Excel before you modify them or add values.  Otherwise, when you select “Save”, you will over-wright the original spreadsheets in the Fan Engineering directory.  That’s probably not the end of the world, but if you needed a clean copy, I suspect you would have to uninstall and then re-install the CD content.

For me, the electronic version of the CD is well worth the cost (it’s $149 vs. $100 for the paper copy).  And, truth be told, I really appreciate having both the electronic and paper copy.  Obviously, the electronic copy is handy for my field work and teaching.  But for me, there is some sentimental attachment associated with the paper copy; its like having a bit of a tangible connection with one of the founders of our industry.  And some of the affection for the paper copy is my age;  I grew up with paper books and while I have a Kindle Fire, which is wonderful for traveling and in low light conditions and for its functionality beyond just being an e-reader, I still like the feel of a book in my hand as I read it.

As you probably have noted, this is not a free resource, like many of the ones I list in the reading and resources list I posted previously.  But as I have indicated, it’s a classic reference and a valuable resource for anyone involved with HVAC as a profession and well worth the money.  And, there is some good news if you are a student.  Howden offers a $75 student discount on either the CD or the paper copy of the handbook.  To see if you qualify, simply send an e-mail to asking for more information.  I’m sure you’ll get a speedy reply.

So, many thanks to Howden North America for making this resource available and for making it easier for students to obtain a copy of the latest and greatest information on fan engineering from the pens of leaders in the industry.

David Sellers
Senior Engineer – Facility Dynamics Engineering

This entry was posted in Air Handling Systems, Resource List and other Resources. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Howden North America’s Fan Engineering Handbook

  1. Carl says:

    Hey David, I have been looking for a copy of this book for a while and I am struggling. Can you help steer me towards where I can find a digital copy for sale. none of the links from your write up seem to be working correctly.

    • I have actually tried to contact Howden a number of times since you sent this and with no luck. Its such a classic that it has to be out there, but the contacts I had have moved on. As I type this, I realize there is one more person I should try so stay tuned. I may figure this out yet. Meanwhile, the only way I know of to get a copy is to watch for used copies on line or in book fairs. I found a couple googling around but some of the prices were crazy; I think book sellers here the words “classic in the industry” and figure they can demand big bucks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s