Best Ender 3 Cooling Fan Upgrades – How to Do It Right
There are three main fan upgrades that you can do on the Ender 3 series of printers to improve the cooling:
- Hotend fan upgrade
- Motherboard fan upgrade
- PSU fan upgrade
Let’s go through each type of fan upgrade in more detail.
Best Hotend Fan Upgrade
The hotend fan is the most significant fan on a 3D printer because it contributes directly to your 3D prints and how well they come out.
Hotend fans have the ability to reduce clogs, under extrusion, heat creep and improving print quality, overhangs, bridges and more. With a good hotend fan upgrade, a lot of people see some good improvements.
One of the best hotend fan upgrades is the Noctua NF-A4x20 PWM from Amazon, a trusted and premium quality fan that is best suitable for your Ender 3 and all of its versions.
It comes with advanced design and features which make it a go-to option for hotend fans especially because of its fitting, shape, and size. The fan also has mechanical features like a low-noise adaptor while being highly optimized and emits sound even less than the 14.9 decibels.
As the fan comes in a 12V range, you need a basic buck converter that reduces the voltage from 24V which is the default number in almost all Ender 3 versions except for Ender 3 Pro model. The fan also comes with anti-vibration mounts, an extension cable, and fan screws.
I’ll talk more about the buck converter further down, but the product that people usually use is the Songhe Buck Converter from Amazon.
One user that has tried many fans of different brands tried the Noctua fan and said it’s the only fan that doesn’t screech or give a ticking sound while operating. The fans emit extremely low noise and it is almost inaudible.
Another user said that he was a bit concerned in the beginning as the fan comes with 7 blades instead of 5 like in all other fans, but after some testing he is happy with its performance.
He believes that having 7 blades in the design made it capable to lower the RPM while generating more static pressure.
A reviewer of this fan said that he 3D prints with an enclosed chamber and it can get really hot while printing. He tried different brands of fans and even a smaller Noctua fan but always got clogs and heat creep.
After choosing to install this fan, he said he hasn’t faced any clogs or heat creep since, as the fans move air more efficiently.
Another user said that he uses his Ender 3 consistently for more than 24 hours, but doesn’t face any issues of overheating, jamming, or heat creeps while using this fan on the hotend.
Another thing that he liked the most is that it is a 12V fan and uses far less electricity as compared to the stock or fans of other brands.
Best Motherboard Fan Upgrade
Another fan upgrade we can do is the motherboard fan upgrade. I also recommend the Noctua brand, but for this one, we need different sizing.
You can go with the Noctua’s NF-A4x10 from Amazon, which comes with a modern design and operates smoothly. It has long-term stability, durability, and precision because of its advanced technology.
The fan includes anti-vibration pads that further increase its stability as they don’t let the fan shake or vibrate a lot while operating at high speed.
Apart from this, the fan is designed in such a way that gives a boost to the fan’s performance, allowing it to pass more air while being quiet (17.9 dB) as well.
The fan package will come with useful accessories including a Low-Noise Adaptor, 30cm Extension Cable, 4 Vibration-Compensators, and 4 Fan Screws.
As the fan is in the 12V range, it needs a buck converter that can take down the Ender 3 voltage from the 24V to 12V range as previously mentioned with the Noctua brand.
One user said that he bought two of these fans for his Ender 3 printer and now he doesn’t even realize whether the 3D printer is running because the noise is so low.
Another user said that he is using a Noctua fan as a replacement for a standard hot end fan. The user has set the fan speed at 60% and it works very effectively for his 3D prints. Even when the fan runs at 100% speed, it still emits less noise than the 3D printer’s stepper motors.
There’s a user that decided to replace all the fans on his 3D printer with Noctua fans. He simply installed a buck converter to step down the voltages from 24V (coming from the power supply) to 12V (volts for the fans).
He is happy as the fans fit perfectly and he cannot hear a sound even from a minor distance of 10 feet. He claims that noise reduction has made a big difference for him and he will buy more.
Best PSU Fan Upgrade
Lastly, we can go with the PSU or power supply unit fan upgrade. Again, Noctua is the favorite for this fan.
I’d recommend upgrading your PSU fans with the Noctua NF-A6x25 FLX from Amazon. It’s designed very well and is high optimized to deliver great cooling performance.
The fan size is 60 x 25mm which is good to be used as Ender 3 PSU fan’s replacement. Again, you will need a buck converter that takes the 24V and lets it run on 12V which the Ender 3 uses.
A user shared his experience stating that he replaced the old noisy fan on Ender 3 Pro power supply with this Noctua fan. The fan is a bit thicker so he mounted it externally.
Another user said that he is extremely happy with this fan’s build because he used many fans for his 3D printer and some of them tend to break down.
This thing usually happens because of weak blades and it can lead to other safety issues. However, he gave an A++ rating to this fan as he is using it on an Ender 3 where he prints models that take 24+ hours but the power supply remains just cool.
Another user said that he wanted something that can allow him to sleep in the garage while the printer is operating and now he can confidently say that Noctua’s fan was a worthy purchase.
The fan is super quiet and as a bonus comes with Low-Noise Adaptor and Ultra Low Noise Adaptor as well.
Installing a Buck Converter for Fans
If you have any Ender 3 version other than Ender 3 Pro PSU, you will need a buck converter because all Ender 3 versions come with a 24V setup. A buck converter is just a tool that converts high voltages to lower voltages in DC-to-DC transmission.
Installing it with your Noctua fans is necessary so that you don’t end up with fan burnout. Songhe Voltmeter Buck Converter with LED Display is a great choice for this purpose. It can take 35V as input and convert it to as low as 5V as the output.
A user said that he uses this converter for his Ender 3 printer and finds it quite helpful. They perform their intended function efficiently and the screen to see the power output and being easy-to-adjust are what make this buck converter one of the best.
It does have open pins that could be broken, so one user designed and 3D printed a little case to protect them. He has been using it for more than 2 months now and never faced any issues to date.
Another user said that he is using these converters for different fans on his 3D printers and it works like a charm. The fan blows air as required while the converter keeps the voltage at 12V which is originally 24V on an Ender 3 printer.
How to Upgrade the Ender 3 Fan
When it comes to installing these Noctua fans on an Ender 3, it does take some technical know-how and some equipment to put them together. They are a worthwhile upgrade to significantly improve airflow and reduce noise coming from the fan.
I’d recommend checking out the video below as a guide on upgrading your Ender 3 fans. The main reason it isn’t a simple process is because the fans are 12V and the 3D printer’s power supply is 24V as mentioned in this article, so it needs the buck converter.
The process to upgrade fans in different locations is a bit different on Ender 3 but the whole idea is almost the same. Once you have installed the buck converter, you have to connect the Noctua fan wires where the old fans were attached and you are ready to go.
Best Ender 3 Fan Duct/Shroud Upgrade
A really good Ender 3 fan duct is the Bullseye Fan Duct that you can download from Thingiverse. They have more than a million downloads on their Thingiverse page and it is regularly updated with new versions, whether you have modifications like an auto leveling sensor or want a certain type of duct.
The Bullseye directs airflow coming from the fan to focus on the required area such as a hotend or printing area.
The designers of bullseye thoroughly looked into the feedback and continuously update their products to make them more efficient and capable of meeting all user’s requirements.
Installing a Bullseye fan duct on your 3D printer can bring you benefits like better interlayer adhesion, better-finished layers, and many more.
There are many successful Makes that people have created and uploaded to Thingiverse, usually made from PLA or PETG filament. You’ll find many files on the page so you need to find the right one.
If you have a direct drive setup, there is a remixed Bullseye/Blokhead version that can fit on that. You can find more info about what to print by going to their instructions page.
One user said he loves the fan duct and managed to install it even with a BLTouch auto leveling sensor installed by trimming the left side a little bit. He also mentioned that it’s not a clip on job since you need to disassemble the hotend to get one screw and nut in on the right side.
Another user mentioned that he’s new to 3D printing and this was the hardest thing they have attempted. They managed to get there in the end after some failures, but it works great. They had to manually remove the spacers for the fan duct mounts due to the fan frame was too large.
The Blokhead fan duct is under the same Thingiverse file page of the Petsfang brand and is another great Ender 3 fan duct you can make use of. It fits properly with the Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 V2, and other versions.
For most of the 3D printing, the stock cooler is enough but if you want something extra, the Blokhead is a great option.
One user who 3D printed with the Blokhead a couple of times had issues with it breaking. They needed to increase the wall thickness and infill of the 3D print to increase the durability of the part.
Another issue that might arise is when you try to tighten the duct brackets, the tension can break it. Someone thought to add small washes in the gap and it helped to fix that issue.
Check out the video below to see the Blokhead fan duct in action on the Ender 3, as well as giving useful information about assembly and more.
A user who uses both the Bullseye and the Blokhead said that the advantage of the Bullseye is that there is no need for new parts or fans to buy, along with a better view of the hotend. The advantage of the Blokhead is that the cooling was more effective.
In the video below by YouMakeTech, he compares both fan ducts.
Hero Me Gen 6
The Hero Me Gen 6 is another great fan duct upgrade for your Ender 3 machine and many other 3D printers out there, as it’s compatible with over 50 printer models.
Several users attest to how useful this fan duct is on their 3D printers. One user did mention it was confusing to put together at the start, but with the new instruction manual, it was a lot easier.
After installing it on their CR-10 V2 that was converted to a direct drive setup with an E3D hotend, they said their 3D printer works 10 times better than before, and they have nearly perfect print results.
According to users, the best thing about this upgrade is high quality and fast printing without worrying about any heat creeps or jamming.
The bad thing is the upgrade has a lot of small parts which are firstly difficult to print and then mounting them in their place is also a messy task.
YouMakeTech also created a video on the Hero Me Gen 6 that you can check out below.
Satsana Fan Duct
The Satsana Ender 3 Fan Duct is one of the most popular because of its simple, solid, and clean design that fits with fans efficiently. The model can be printed easily without any support as all you need is a 3D printer that can handle 45-degree overhangs and a 16mm bridge.
The model has a hole behind the fan that helps in accessing the top mounting screw in an aligned manner instead of going from the side. The designer of this print said that he has printed this fan duct for his Ender 3 and finds it extremely useful.
Installing the Satsana Ender 3 fan ducts on your 3D printer is a great way to route the airflow coming from the fans.
The duct will also bring advantages such as better pointed airflow to the nozzle from either side. This directly leads to the improvement of overhangs and bridging.
Here is a video by 3D Printscape that will give you the necessary information about the Satsana Ender 3 Fan Duct while providing you with a brief installation guide as well.
Satsana 5015 Fan Duct
The Satsana 5015 Fan Duct is a great fan upgrade for the Ender 3. It’s a specific version of the Satsana fan duct that uses larger 5015 fans which produce a larger airflow to your extruded filament.
Similar to the original version, you can also 3D print this without support, though the designer recommends using a brim to reduce the warping of the smaller parts.
Many users have shown their happiness and appreciation for this upgrade in their comments. They claim that this thing has improved Ender 3’s print quality to a certain extent and having access to every part is what makes Satsana 5015 fan ducts one of the finest for Ender 3.
Here is a video by YouMakeTech that shows the performance of different ducts and shrouds usually used for Ender 3 fans.
A user shares his experience regarding different ducts stating that he has used almost all the fan ducts to experiment with different things and these are his conclusions.
- The fan speed with 5015 should remain under 70% for ideal results.
- A 40-50% fan speed is best for extreme bridging conditions.
- The Hero Me Gen 6 is great as it passes the air through the nozzle tip at a specific angle that reduces the turbulence to the minimum. This thing is not usually found in other ducts as they point air directly on the nozzle which causes the filament to cool down and results in different printing errors.
- Hero Me Gen 6 is best to get high-quality prints using the minimum fan speed while experiencing almost no noise.