How to Choose a Ceiling Fan

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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.

Instructions

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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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