How to Find the Best Ceiling Fan for Your Home
Most of us think of ceiling fans as a great way to beat the heat, but you can also use them in conjunction with your air conditioner. During the summer months, set the blade rotation counterclockwise to circulate cool air throughout your room -- for about the same cost of using a 100-watt incandescent light bulb.
You will be able to cut back your air conditioner usage, reducing your electricity consumption. Good for your monthly utility bill -- and the environment.
Ceiling fans are equally efficient to run during the winter months. Flip the switch to the clockwise setting, and your ceiling fan will create an updraft, sending warmer air along the ceiling and back down into the room. This simple change can cut your heating bill by 10 to 14 percent, by allowing you keep your thermostat on a lower setting.
If you think all ceiling fans still have oak blades and fancy ruffled tulip glass shades, think again. You can find a ceiling fan style that works beautifully with any décor style. You can also find them to fit any budget.
Now that we’ve covered the a few of the obvious benefits, here’s the lowdown on how to find the best ceiling fan for your home.
Don’t let anyone fool you. In the case of ceiling fans, size definitely matters, especially in relation to your room size.
Selecting the proper size ceiling fan will not only maximize its operating potential, it also impacts how it will look in a given space. Let’s say you have a large family room with cathedral ceilings. However, you prefer the unobtrusive profile of flush mount ceiling fans. Not only will this design look out of place in an expansive room with high ceilings, it won't have the appropriate “drop” and blade span to adequately cool the space.
Most ceiling fan manufacturers provide size recommendations based on their particular models. Before making a final decision, it is best to refer to their data. However, for informational purposes, here are some general guidelines to get you on the right track when selecting a ceiling fan for your room size:
Up to 36 sq. ft. – Consider a ceiling fan with a blade span in the range of 24 to 36 inches. This size is designed for very small space, possibly a breakfast nook, bathroom, laundry room, walk-in closet or hall.
From 36 to 80 sq. ft. – These rooms are small to moderate in size, much like a guest or child’s bedroom, kitchen or even a home office. Ceiling fans with a 42- to 48-inch blade span tend to sufficiently cool this size room.
From 80 to 150 sq. ft. – Choose a ceiling fan blade span of 50 to 55 inches for an average size room. This standard ceiling fan size is a sound choice for most homeowners. This room size could be your master bedroom, living room or study.
150 to 225 sq. ft., or larger – Many of today’s open plan homes feature extra large living spaces. You’ll most likely need a fan with a 56-inch (or larger) blade span to efficiently circulate air in an expansive room with ceilings over 10 feet in height. This is an instance where size alone may not get the job done.
You should also consider the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating of larger ceiling fans. For great rooms, choose a ceiling fan that generates at least 7,000 CFM. Another alternative is to use two standard size fans with high CFM ratings – They’ll do a better job than one 56-inch ceiling fan.
Ceiling fans can feature three to five blades – most standard models have four. More blades may not improve efficiency, but they do have a direct impact on the price of a ceiling fan. More blades mean a higher price tag.
The construction of a ceiling fan’s blades will affect its life and performance. Check the specs to make sure a fan has blades made from pressurized and sealed hardwood. Cheaper ceiling fans may have plywood or particleboard blades, which tend to warp due to extremes in humidity and temperature. Damp rated fan blades are commonly made from plastic composite materials to hold up in high moisture situations, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.
For versatility, consider purchasing a fan with reversible blades. This will give your ceiling fan two looks for the price of one. When you tire one look, simply flip the blades for an entirely different finish or color.
Also consider the blade pitch. Pitch determines the direction of airflow and assists in circulation and cooling. For instance, I currently live in an 830 sq. ft. apartment. It has a very inexpensive ceiling fan positioned over the dining area, which is directly adjacent and open to the kitchen and living room. The blade pitch of this ceiling fan directs the air straight down, cooling only a small area. I can’t feel the fan in the kitchen or living room.
When shopping for a ceiling fan, check the manufacturer’s specifications or packaging to find the blade pitch. The optimum pitch lies somewhere between 11 and 16 degrees. If the blades have a pitch less than 11 degrees, the blades tend to limit air movement to a confined area (just like my apartment fan). A pitch greater than 20 degrees increases wind resistance, making the fan motor work harder to move air.
Typical ceiling fan motors range in power between 1/60 and 1/3 hp (horsepower). Motors that are more powerful are often found in ceiling fans with wider blade spans and greater blade pitch. These larger motors also reduce the instance of overheating.
Look for ceiling fan motors with sealed bearings. This eliminates the need to oil the bearings and perform additional motor maintenance. Another thing to be aware of is a rubber flywheel. The rubber flywheel controls torque and stabilizes the ceiling fan. It also makes for quieter fan operation. Some inexpensive ceiling fans do not have these key components.
Today, many homeowners rely on ceiling fans to provide overhead lighting and most fans are designed to meet those needs. Some offer a single light source that accommodates low-wattage incandescent bulbs. Others have halogen down lights, and still others feature lights on multiple arms with shades made from glass or cloth.
Hanging System and Downrod
If you have a sloped ceiling, purchase a ceiling fan with a ball and socket swivel hanging system. It is designed to keep your fan level even when it is mounted at an angle.
Ceiling fan downrods range in length from 12 to 72 inches. If you have a low ceiling, consider a flush-mount system. That way you won’t have to worry about tall family members coming in contact with fan blades! Here's a chart to help you pick the right downrod for your ceiling height:
Ceiling Height in Feet
Downrod Length in Inches
The standard controls for a budget ceiling fan consist of pull chains connected to the motor and lights. This is fine for a guest room or other seldom-used space. For fans that get heavy use, think about wiring your ceiling fan to a wall switch or specialty switch that will allow you to also control the fan speed and dim the lights.
Kick things up a notch with a handheld remote that’s also a thermostat. It will adjust the fan speed to maintain a constant room temperature. You can also use it for home security -- set the remote to turn the lights and ceiling fan on and off at programmed times while you are away.
Designs and Finishes
Luckily, we are no longer limited to a handful of boring ceiling fan designs. Today, there's ceiling fan style that will coordinate perfectly with any décor. You can choose from tropical, modern, vintage, sports themed, juvenile and traditional styles. And each of those come in a wide variety of colors and finishes.
Now, Install Your Ceiling Fan!
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