How to Choose a Ceiling Fan


Call it good wind chill. Since the breeze a ceiling fan generates makes you feel 2 to 6 degrees cooler, you can raise your thermostat that amount and save 16 to 48 percent on air-conditioning. What makes some fans sell for $50 and others for $500 or more? It's all in the range of styles, features and construction.

  • Find a fan that fits the room. For up to 100 square feet (9.3 square m), you'll need a blade span of 36 inches (91 cm); spaces up to 150 square feet (13.9 square m) requires 42 inches (107 cm); up to 225 square feet (20.9 square m) requires 48 inches (122 cm); up to 375 square feet (34.8 square m) requires 52 inches (132 cm).

  • Attach flush-mount or hugger fans to low ceilings. On a high ceiling, downrods bring the cooling action into the living space. Sloped ceilings require a special angled mount. For safety, all blades must be at least 7 feet (213 cm) above the floor.

  • Shop for quality components. Die-cast (not stamped) motor housings and blade holders reduce motor noise and add stability. Permanently lubricated bearings and a sealed oil reservoir provide maintenance-free operation.

  • Compare blade performance. Blade pitch (angle) ranges from 8 to 15 degrees; the higher the pitch, the more air the fan moves.

  • Select a finish to match your decor. Motor housings come in brass, steel, nickel, iron, verdigris (greenish-blue), copper, bronze and painted looks. Blades are made from plastic, metal, cloth, palm and bamboo, as well as wood finishes. Reversible blades offer two different looks.

  • Consider how the room's lighting will work with the fan. Ceiling fans generally replace existing light fixtures. Do you want built-in fan lights, or will you customize with a decorative light kit? To ensure the fan and light finishes match, buy both through the same fan company.

  • Boost convenience with a wireless remote or hardwired wall control to adjust fan speed, lights and other features.

  • Shop for options. A dimmer switch adjusts lighting to fit your mood. Programmable controls can automatically adjust fan speed to compensate for cooler night air, or can turn off lights and the fan after a certain number of hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose fans rated for damp or wet environments if you're buying for a bathroom, kitchen or covered porch.
  • Look for fans bearing the Energy Star label, which indicates that they move air up to 20 percent more efficiently than typical models.
  • Unusual blade and housing finishes are striking, but a white fan will nicely blend into your white ceiling.
  • Most ceilings require bracing to support the extra weight of a ceiling fan. Consult with an electrician or a home center.
  • Solid-wood blades can warp over time.

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