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Switching to fans instead of air conditioning whenever possible during summer not only saves energy but saves you money too. They may not cool down a room as much, but they can definitely provide you respite from the heat. Whether it is used indoors or outdoors, a ceiling fan circulates and moves the air constantly, therefore providing a sense of comfort.
How do you choose the right ceiling fan? Some of the things you should keep in mind when purchasing a ceiling fan are:
- Where you plan to install the fan
- Your budget
- Type of ceiling fan
- Ceiling fan size
- Number of fan blades
- Fan efficiency and energy-star rating
- Fan controls and other features
Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to replace an existing ceiling fan, the seemingly unlimited choices on the market can be overwhelming; the remainder of this article will serve as a guide to help you determine which ceiling fan is best for you and your home.
The Guide to Buying the Right Ceiling Fan
As mentioned before, ceiling fans help create a healthy airflow in the room. By circulating the air in a room continuously, fans help refresh the space without using too much electricity and hence, saves money.
Benefits to Ceiling Fans
Some benefits of using a ceiling fan for a space include:
Healthy Air Circulation
Ceiling fans circulate the air in a room, keeping it fresh and maintaining the ideal room temperature. They help maintain a low temperature during the summers by circulating cool air. While in winter, through reverse circulation, push hot air downwards, thereby creating a warm and cozy temperature.
Save Energy & Money
Instead of always reaching for the air conditioning, which consumes more energy, thereby increasing the energy bill, ceiling fans use a very low amount of energy. Ceiling fans with DC motors and an Energy Star rating can reduce energy consumption by almost 60%.
Add to the Aesthetics
With so many designs and styles available, ceiling fans not only provide functionality but also add personality to a space. From sleek, modern designs, to more traditional, ornate designs, a ceiling fan can blend seamlessly into your space and even enhance how it looks.
Fans with lighting fixtures help brighten a room and add ambiance to it. Depending on the design you choose for your fan, you can have the lights fixed below it to provide the maximum light output or have them above the fan for more mood lighting.
If you are on the market for a ceiling fan to reap their benefits but are not sure where to start, here are some factors you should consider:
The Location for Your New Ceiling Fan
You have decided that you need a ceiling fan for your space. But, is the location good for hanging a ceiling fan? Is the fan going to be at a safe distance from the floor? Would you be able to install a ceiling fan box to mount the fan? These are some of the questions that you should answer before purchasing a ceiling fan.
Where Do You Install the Fan?
The best place to hang a ceiling fan is in the middle of the room. This ensures that the air is circulated evenly across the room instead of creating an air pocket in one corner. Ceiling fans also require support since they are heavier than the usual light fixtures, and their circular motion can create strains on the hanger. Always use a ceiling fan box to hang the fan and make sure that the ceiling is strong enough to bear the fan.
Installing Fans at the Right Height
When hanging a ceiling fan, the most important thing to keep in mind is the ceiling height. The ideal distance between the floor and the fan is eight feet.
The rule of thumb when adding a ceiling fan to your space is that nothing should obstruct its movement vertically or horizontally. There should be at least eight inches between the ceiling and the blades of your fan. The horizontal space between the fan’s blades and the room’s walls should be a minimum of 18 inches.
For taller or shorter ceilings, the fan can be adjusted through different styles of mounting options available.
Mounting Options for Your Fan
When choosing a ceiling fan, it is very important to pay attention to your ceiling height. If a fan is hung too close to a high ceiling, it may not be able to distribute air properly around the whole room. On the other hand, a fan hanging low on a low ceiling is a safety hazard. There are two mounting options to choose from depending upon your ceiling height:
- Flush Mount – This method is perfect for hanging fans on a low ceiling. Here, the fans are mounted on a flush without any other attachment to keep the fan closer to the ceiling and maintain a safe distance between the fan and the floor.
- Downrod Mount – This method is used for hanging fans on a higher ceiling to ensure that the fan does not hang too high. In this method, the fan is attached to a downrod to provide height to the fan itself. The size of the downrod depends upon the height of the ceiling. The below table shows the ideal downrod sizes for different ceiling heights:
|Ceiling Height (feet)||Downrod Length (inches)|
|9 feet||6 inches|
|10 feet||12 inches|
|12 feet||24 inches|
|14 feet||36 inches|
|16 feet||48 inches|
|18 feet||60 inches|
|20 feet||72 inches|
Indoor vs. Outdoor location
Purchasing a ceiling fan for your bedroom is different from purchasing one for your patio. The same fan will not work in both places efficiently. Depending on where you intend to hang your fan, you will need to purchase a ceiling fan ideal for that location. There are several ratings that differentiate an indoor from an outdoor ceiling fan. The most common ones are:
- Dry-Rated Ceiling Fans – These fans are designed for dry, interior locations that are free of extreme humidity, moisture, or water. These are perfect for any interior location like a living room, dining room, bedroom, or office. If installed in damp environments, these fans may rust or corrode and stop working.
- Damp-Rated Ceiling Fans – These fans can work in high humid and moisture conditions but will not operate in direct contact with water. This makes them ideal for covered outdoor locations like sunrooms, where they do not get wet directly.
- Wet-Rated Ceiling Fans – These fans are designed to endure rain, saltwater, snow, and other environmental conditions. They use a high moisture-resistant motor, which enables them to operate in all types of weather. They can be used in decks, backyards, or patios.
Getting a Good Fan within Your Budget
With so many options in the market, there is no doubt you will find a ceiling fan whether your budget is $100, $500, or $1,000. However, what needs to be taken into consideration when you are buying a ceiling fan is what you will get depending on the price you pay.
Fans Under $199
You will find a ton of options for fans under $100. These are perfect for starter homes or apartments and come with and without lighting options. These will be more basic in design, which means you will not have a lot of color or feature options available to choose from.
Fans Between $200 – $599
As you go higher with your budget, you will notice that you have more styles, finishes, and lighting options to choose from. Fans in this range will have all the basic qualities of a fan, as well as some additional features like reverse motions. In terms of design, you will find options in both traditional and contemporary styles.
Fans Between $600 – $999
Going higher on the budget will get you a fan with improved features, functionality, motor performance, as well as styles, accessories, and increased controls. At a higher price range, you can also find fans that are more energy-efficient and prove to be cost-effective in the long run. You could also find fans with full-range lighting solutions.
Fans Over $1000
If you have a big budget and can spend a lot on your ceiling fan, then expect to be spoiled by the design, styles, and features available at this price point. From handcrafted blades and textured glass to integrated, remote-controlled LED lighting, you could find fans ranging from vintage to deluxe. You may also find smart-fans for your home, which can be controlled through your smart home devices or remotely.
Types of Ceiling Fans
Traditionally designed to maintain a continuous airflow, today’s ceiling fans also need to compliment your room’s style. Hence, it is important to know what kind of a ceiling fan you want when you set out to buy one. Ceiling fans can be categorized based on functionality, style, and even their finishing.
Types of Ceiling Fans Based on Functionality
- Hanging propeller – As the name suggests, these fans look like a plane’s propeller attached to a pole from the ceiling. This is the most used style of fan in residential and office properties.
- Directional Fans – These fans can be adjusted to stay at a particular angle to provide airflow in a specific area, unlike the hanging propeller fans that ventilate the whole room.
- Rotational Fans – A combination of directional and hanging fans, these fans have more than one set of blades that spin independently of each other. These two sets can be angled at different directions, therefore, covering a larger area for airflow.
- Indoor Fans – As the name suggests, these fans are ideal for using indoors. These can be placed in any room that is not affected by outside weather; that is, they do not come in direct contact with outside heat or humidity.
- Outdoor Fans – These fans are made to withstand extreme conditions like heat, water, snow, dampness, or humidity. This makes them a good option for outdoor spaces like patios, backyards, or decks. Ideally, these fans should be bigger in diameter to cover more area than indoor fans.
Types of Ceiling Fans Based on Style
- Traditional Style – These fans have traditional-shaped blades often with ornate details. These fans go well with traditional decors like oak wood or wrought-iron furniture.
- Contemporary Style – Clean, straight lines and monochrome colors are the mark of contemporary styled fans. They do well in rooms that have a modern feel to them. Ceilings with beams, rooms with industrial decor, and shiplap walls are some examples of styles that these fans compliment.
- Transitional Style – Combining the best of both worlds, these fans have a clean, modular design with a touch of embellishment. This makes them the go-to choice for any decorative room since these fans easily blend in.
- Leaf Blades – These fans have blades that are shaped like leaves, such as banana or palm leaves. Because of their specific blade design, these fans are ideal for decor purposes for the inside of rooms, such as those found in restaurants, resorts, or spas.
Types of Ceiling Fans Based on Finishing
You can even choose a ceiling fan based on the finishing of its body. Some common types are:
- Coastal – These fans come with natural wood blades and oil-rubbed bronze finishes. The most common types of wood used are bamboo with rattan blades or leaf-inspired designs ideal for cottage-style houses.
- Modern – These fans have brushed nickel, matte black, or chrome finishes and sleek blade design. Ideal for condos, lofts, or mid-century spaces, they add a touch of modernity to a space.
- Cottage – The classic white colors make these fans perfect for cottage-style vintage decor. However, these fans require higher maintenance since they start looking stained or dusty very quickly.
- Classic – One can never go wrong with dark oak or walnut wood finishes paired with antique pewter. With timeless blade designs, these go well with any surroundings.
- Rustic – Using a natural wood style and pattern, these work well for outdoor areas to complement the nature around them.
Size of Ceiling Fans
The size of the ceiling fan you need to buy depends upon the square footage size of your space. An easy rule to follow is choosing the blade size based on your room size:
|Size of the Room (square feet)||Blade Size (inches)|
|<90 square feet||15” – 40”|
|90 – 100 square feet||44” – 48”|
|100 – 150 square feet||50” – 54”|
|>150 square feet||>56”|
For rooms that are larger than 150 square feet, consider installing more than one fan to evenly distribute the flow of air across the entire room.
The kind of blades your fan has affects your fan’s looks and performance. Just like the fan’s motor, blades, too, are designed for factors like size, weather conditions, or energy-efficiency.
Are Ceiling Fans with More Blades Better?
A common misconception when buying a fan is that more blades are better. It is thought that more blades mean more airflow and less cost. However, in reality, having more than four blades is only a design play.
What matters when it comes to air circulation is the motor’s power. Three or four blades lead to the same airflow as five to six blades if its motor is powerful enough. A small motor will circulate the same amount of air in smaller or larger blades. The only difference would be in the area of circulation.
Blade span is the width of the fan from the tip of one blade to the tip of the other. The most commonly used fan blade spans 42 inches and 52 inches. Longer blades are better for bigger rooms to create a comfortable airflow. Similarly, shorter blades are ideal for smaller rooms.
- Particleboard and medium-density fiberboard are the most commonly used materials in regular fan blades. As you move to a higher price range, you can invest in blades that are made from furniture grade, real hardwood, and even choose between a wide variety of intricate designs. You can choose your fan and fan blades from a wide variety of colors, designs, patterns, styles to match your room’s interior.
- Many fans come with the option of reversible blades, which means you can reverse the blades on the fan if you get bored of one look. Some fans also come with multiple design blades, which means you can switch the blades as you please.
Ceiling Fan Features
The following are a few common ceiling fan features that you should also consider when searching for the best ceiling fan for your needs:
These fans come with an Energy Star rating, which is a certification given to electronics to determine how efficiently they consume and save energy. These fans are more expensive than non-energy efficient fans but save you money on energy bills in the long run.
Energy Star-Rated Fans
Energy Star refers to a rating system by the EPA that distinguishes fans based on how energy-efficient they are. The following are some of the benefits that come with Energy Star-rated fans:
- Energy Star fans consume 15-20% less energy than normal fans.
- Energy Star fans with lights use up to 60% less energy.
- Most Energy Star fans come with a minimum warranty of 30 years.
- All Energy Star fans come with a 1-year warranty on all components.
In addition to these features, all Energy Star fans must:
- At Low Speeds – Have a minimum airflow of 1,250 cubic feet/minute (cfm) and an efficiency of 155 cfm/watt.
- Medium Speeds – Have a minimum airflow of 3000 cfm and the efficiency of 100 cfm/watt
- High Speeds – It must operate at a minimum airflow of 5,000 cfm and an efficiency of 75 cfm/watt
Fans operate on a motor. It is the motor that determines the volume and efficiency of airflow, as well as the energy consumed. There are two types of motors in fans:
- AC Motor – Simply put, these fans use motors that operate on alternating current (AC). These consume more power to circulate air. The bigger the fan, the stronger the motor it needs at higher energy consumptions.
- DC Motors – Lighter and smaller than AC motors, these generate more torque and consume less energy. These are silent motors and produce less heat. Fans with DC motors are more expensive than AC motors but prove to be more energy- and cost-efficient in the long run.
Many ceiling fans come with light fixtures attached. If the fan does not have an in-built light fixture, many brands sell fans that come with a light kit. The most common styles of light fixtures are:
- Dome Light – This is the most commonly attached light fixture. It represents an upside-down dome with lights fixed inside of it.
- Branched Light – These are two or three light fixtures attached to the middle of the fan. The best part is that these individual light fixtures can be adjusted at different angles to light an area within the room.
- Dimmer Light – This simply means that the lights come with an option of dimming or brightening, depending on the need. This could be done using a chain attached to the fan through a dimming switch, or remote control.
Light fixtures also come with different types of shades. Most of the time, the shades are made of glass, but there are many varieties and designs available. Some popular shades are:
- Opal glass
- Alabaster glass
- Etched glass
- Clear glass
- Painted glass
- Textured glass
Types of Lights
You can also use a variety of lights with your ceiling fan:
- LED Light – With low energy consumption and a higher life span, these lights use energy-efficient bulbs to emit cool or warm lighting ideal for several types of indoor spaces.
- Halogen – This light source uses 15% percent less energy than incandescent light sources with an average life span of 1,500 hours. Ceiling fans with halogen bulbs emit a warm light and are ideal for lower hanging fans.
- Fluorescent – These lights use 75% less energy than incandescent lights with an average lifespan of 10,000 hours. These can emit both cool or warm lighting.
Most ceiling fans come with a pull cord to switch it on or off. More recently, wall-mounted switches have also been used to turn the fan on or off or control the fan’s speed.
There is also an option of getting fans that operate with a remote control, so you can reduce or increase the speed, turn the fan on or off, and even control the lights. Smart fans or fans that can be operated through smart-home devices are becoming increasingly common too.
- Pull Chain – Cheaper than the other two options, this is ideal for places with low ceilings or places where there are not too many people at all times.
- Wall Control – Wall control often comes with buttons to adjust the speed of the fan, direction of the fan, or the lights and different lighting options. Wall controls are ideal for the kitchen or a kids’ room.
- Remote Control – A remote control offers maximum convenience since you do not have to move or get up from your seat to make adjustments to the fan. Most remotes operate within a 30-40 foot range. These fans are ideal for bedrooms, formal rooms like guest rooms or offices.
Fans with Higher Airflow
These fans are ideal for spaces where more air circulation is needed, like in a garage or warehouses. These fans also need to have higher efficiency. Fun Fact: High airflow fans drive away mosquitoes and insects, making them ideal for outdoor or large open spaces.
The purpose of ceiling fans with accessories is to allow the ability to modify or enhance the look or functionality of the fan, depending on how you use it.
- Angled Ceiling Adapter – This adapter helps fix fans to ceilings that are angled. In case of high ceilings, the adapter can be attached to a downrod to mount the fan at the appropriate height.
- Light Kits – As mentioned earlier, many fans do not come with light fixtures attached but can be modified to hold lighting through light kits sold separately. These lights can include LED or standard lights and can be operated upon usage; some examples include brightening the lights, changing a light’s color, turning the light off without switching off the fan, or dimming the lights.
In the end, a ceiling fan is an ideal addition to the electric fixtures in your home or office that offers a variety of benefits without being too heavy on the pocket in the long run. With so many options available, you can choose the one that best fits your needs without compromising on the design, features of functionality.
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.