A ceiling fan is a must-have home appliance for summer. Whether you’re buying an indoor or outdoor ceiling fan for the first time, or you’re looking to replace an existing one, the choices can be overwhelming. Here are seven tips to help you avoid buyer’s remorse and buy the right ceiling fan for your home.
Once you’ve found the perfect ceiling fan, be sure to watch our DIY ceiling fan installation video and read our step-by-step guide!
1. WHERE SHOULD YOU PUT YOUR CEILING FAN?
Purchasing a ceiling fan for your porch is not the same as purchasing one for your living room. That’s because each location is exposed to unique weather elements, which can affect the performance and life of a fan. It’s important that you buy a ceiling fan that is rated specifically for its intended location. Learn more about ratings, and where each type of ceiling fan should be used, by reading our indoor and outdoor ceiling fan buying guide.
The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) assigns the following location-based ratings:
UL Dry-Rated Ceiling Fans
Fans with a UL Dry rating typically feature furniture-grade wood blades and are designed for dry, indoor locations without any exposure to humidity, moisture, or water. Place these fans in bedrooms, living rooms, and offices.
UL Damp-Rated Ceiling Fans
Fans with a UL Damp rating are designed to hold up to humidity and moisture, but not direct contact with water. Place these fans indoors and covered outdoor locations such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and covered porches.
UL Wet-Rated Ceiling Fans
UL Wet rating ceiling fans are designed to endure the elements – rain, ocean spray, snow, and water. The moisture-resistant motor housing and all-weather blades allow these fans to perform under any conditions. Place these fans in exposed decks and patios.
Location Tip: Wet-rated ceiling fans are versatile because they can be installed in damp and dry locations, but the same cannot be said for dry-rated fans. Dry fans should not be installed in damp or wet locations under any circumstances. The fans may rust, burn, or melt in these environments.
2. WHAT SIZE CEILING FAN SHOULD I BUY?
Ceiling fans are not one-size-fits-all fixtures. They can range in size from 14 inches to 72 inches wide. However, the right fan will depend on the size (square footage) and height of your room. Make sure you buy a ceiling fan that is the appropriate size for your room to ensure that it performs properly. To determine which size ceiling fan you need, use the guidelines below or review our ceiling fan sizing guide.
First, find the square footage of the room. Measure the length and width of the room and then multiply the two measurements to find the square footage (e.g. 12 feet x 12 feet = 144 square feet).
Next, measure the ceiling height to determine the installation. Use the guidelines below to determine the application:
A flush mount application is intended for rooms where the ceiling height is less than 8 feet. These low-profile ceiling fans install flush against the ceiling, allowing the blades to hang 7 feet above the floor.
A standard application is intended for rooms where the ceiling height is 8 feet to 10 feet. The fan is installed with the use of a downrod.
A non-standard downrod is used when the ceiling height is greater than 10 feet. See our downrod sizing guide to determine which length you will need for your ceiling height.
If your ceiling fan is not completely flat, you will need a sloped ceiling fan adapter. Most ceiling fans come with a ceiling mount that can work with ceiling pitch (or slope) up to a certain degree. However, this varies by manufacturer. Check out our Vaulted Ceiling Fan Guide to see a table with each ceiling fan manufacturer and the compatible ceiling angles that work with the in-box mount and the sloped adapter part numbers.
Lastly, look for a ceiling fan with a blade span that matches the room’s square footage and height. If you choose a fan that is too small for the space, it will struggle to move air. If you choose a fan that is too large for the space, not only will be off putting, but it will waste too much energy.
Sizing Tips: Here are some additional dimensions to consider when you buy a ceiling fan a new ceiling fan.
- Allow at least 8 to 10 inches between the fan blades and the ceiling
- Allow at least 18 inches between the fan blades and the walls
- Allow at least 7 feet between the fan blades and floor
- Allow at least 39 inches between the fan blades and a light fixture
3. CEILING FAN LIGHTS
To add lighting or not to add lighting, that is the question. Choosing a ceiling fan with lighting is a matter of personal preference. If you plan to install the fan in a space with good natural lighting or sufficient light fixtures, buy a ceiling fan without a light kit.
If the space could use a boost of general lighting, choose a ceiling fan with a light kit. Today’s fans offer a range of lighting sources, including halogen, fluorescent, and LEDs.
LED light sources consume very little energy and have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours. These ceiling fans with energy-efficient bulbs emit cool or warm lighting.
Halogen light sources use 15 percent less energy than incandescent light sources and have an average life span of 1,500 hours. These ceiling fans with halogen bulbs emit a warm light and are ideal for easy-to-reach fans.
Fluorescent light sources use 75 percent less energy than incandescent light sources and have an average lifespan of 10,000 hours. Ceiling fans with CFL bulbsemit cool or warm lighting.
4. CEILING FAN STYLES & FINISHES
The right ceiling fan will complement your home décor effortlessly. When you are looking to buy a ceiling fan that matches your home’s style, keep in the mind the following:
Antique Ceiling Fan Designs
Antique and vintage style ceiling fans complement traditional and vintage home decors. They often feature decorative filigree and scrollwork on the motor housing and blade brackets. Many light kits include a warm globe light. To achieve a vintage-inspired look, buy a ceiling fan that features an antique-style and pair it with American Empire furniture, floral prints and textiles, and warm brass and copper finishes. A warm pastel palette ties the space together.
Contemporary Ceiling Fans
Contemporary ceiling fans are a great addition to any modern and transitional space. The modern style ceiling fans feature clean lines, smooth metallic finishes, and minimal adornment. Buy a ceiling fan with a contemporary feel and pair it with casual contemporary furniture (avoid wood carving and adornments), natural textiles such as cotton, linen or wool, and chrome, nickel or stainless steel hardware. A bold color palette and geometric accents bring the look together.
Rustic Ceiling Fans
Rustic ceiling fans pair well with country, mission and western interiors. These rustic-inspired ceiling fans feature straight lines and dark wood finishes with homespun accents. To achieve this look, buy a ceiling fan with a rustic look and pair it with lodge-style furniture, checkered or striped prints, handmade accents, such as baskets, carved wooden bowls, and pottery, and hand-forged metal accents. Soft, muted colors, rough hewn wood and hand-forged metal accents round out this look.
Tropical Ceiling fans
Tropical ceiling fans complement coastal, island, and nautical home interiors. The island-inspired fans feature bamboo, natural palm leaf, and rattan blades with distressed wood finishes. To achieve this look, buy a ceiling fan with a tropical feel and pair it with rattan furniture, bright colors and natural patterns, tropical flowers and plants, and handcrafted items.
Ceiling Fan Finishes and Colors
Once you have your style picked out, you might be wondering how to choose a ceiling fan color and finish. The most important thing to remember when selecting a color for your ceiling fan is to ensure the downrod matches the rest of the fan. Another good strategy is to match your ceiling fan’s color to that of the most prominent hardware features in the room.
5. CEILING FAN EFFICIENCY & AIRFLOW
The motor is the heart of any ceiling fan, and it determines the airflow and efficiency of your ceiling fan. You don’t have to have to be an electrical engineer to understand a fan motor, but it’s the most important part of any fan. Consider the factors below the next time you buy a ceiling fan:
Ceiling Fans with DC Motors
DC fan motors are smaller and lighter than standard AC motors, which allows them to generate greater torque and consume 70 percent less energy. These motors also produce less heat and are virtually silent.
- At low speed, fans must have a minimum airflow of 1,250 CFM* and an efficiency of 155 cfm/W
- At medium speed, fans must have a minimum airflow of 3,000 CFM* and an efficiency of 100 cfm/W
- At high speed, fans must have a minimum airflow of 5,000 CFM* and an efficiency of 75 cfm/W
ENERGY STAR-Rated Ceiling Fans
ENERGY STAR ceiling fans must meet a rigorous set of criteria before earning the EPA’s seal of approval. Here’s what you can expect when you buy an energy efficient ceiling fan:
- ENERGY STAR fans use 15 to 20 percent less energy than standard fans
- ENERGY STAR fans with lights use 60 percent less energy than standard fans with lights
- ENERGY STAR fans must come with a minimum 30-year motor warranty
- ENERGY STAR fans must come with a minimum 1-year component(s) warranty
In addition, ENERGY STAR ceiling fans must meet the following airflow requirements:
High airflow ceiling fans circulate more air and consume less energy than standard fans. These fans are ideal for garages, warehouses, and outdoor spaces, such as your patio and porch. When you buy a ceiling fan with high airflow you get an added bonus: high-airflow fans are known to drive away mosquitoes and other backyard pests.
6. CEILING FAN CONTROLS
Most ceiling fans offer a basic pull chain control that adjusts the fan speed and lighting. However, there are three types of fan controls to choose from.
Ceiling Fans with Remote Control
The handheld remote control offers the most convenience of all the fan control options. The lightweight and portable control operated within a 30 to 50-foot range, making it ideal for high ceiling fans and hard to reach places. Handheld remote control ceiling fans are also ideal for bedrooms.
The fan speed wall control option allows you to operate the fan speed, direction and lighting with the press of a button. The stationary remote has a range up to 40 feet, making it ideal for families with kids. A wall control is ideal for kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms and multipurpose rooms.
The pull chain offers basic fan control and is ideal for spaces with low traffic, such as a guest room. The easy-to-reach fan control is also ideal for low-profile ceiling fans.
Be sure to put the information in this guide to good use for the next time you find yourself in the market to buy a ceiling fan, and be sure the leave any comments or questions below!