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How to Select a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are valuable for helping to control the temperature in a house.  Ceiling fans are also decorative, and add to the beauty of a home.  There are many factors to consider when selecting a ceiling fan for your home.

It’s July, and it’s HOT … the house is muggy, and you can’t sleep at night. Sound familiar?

These are the conditions that spark the purchase of many a ceiling fan, as people seek some relief from the sultry days of summer.

As former proprietors of a lighting store, Sandy and I often witnessed how overwhelmed people become by the number of decisions they must make when purchasing a ceiling fan – blade size, motor type, brand name, and of course, style, to name a few.

More often than not we saw the husband’s eyes glaze over, and the desperate words “honey, I don’t care – just pick one” come out of his mouth.  Or, the decision is reduced to a choice between “the black one or the white one”.

The fact is, a ceiling fan is an investment that you literally live with, so arming yourself with as much information ahead of your purchase can make the decision that much less daunting.

In the first portion of this article, we’ll cover a few of the fundamentals of ceiling fan selection, and move on to the ‘nitty gritty’ of installation in our next article.

Ceiling Fan Fundamentals

Fans do not actually lower room temperature, but instead circulate or ventilate air, which speeds up the evaporation of perspiration of the skin so we feel cooler (think of it as a wind chill factor inside your home).  The ventilation process also makes a room more comfortable by replacing hot, stuffy indoor air with fresh, outdoor air.  It is estimated that moving air with a fan has the equivalent effect of lowering body temperature by 3 degrees Celsius – very much appreciated on those hot summer days!

Fan Components

Extremely important! The motor is the ‘heart’ of the fan, and you certainly do NOT want a fan with a motor that clicks, hums or buzzes during operation (just TRY to sleep in a room with this type of annoyance). Cheaper fans typically have an outer covering or case that is made up of very thin metal. As you can imagine, these thin components may vibrate and rattle more than your more expensive models, which are more solid in design. Thus the old adage “you get what you pay for” is very true in the case of fans.

People often mistakenly think only in terms of aesthetics when choosing a fan – selection is usually narrowed down to how well the particular blades (color or design) fit in with the decor of a room.

Blade architecture will determine how effectively air is moved; more specifically blade pitch. An optimum pitch is 14 degrees, which maximizes the efficiency of air movement.

Other factors to consider are blade construction and balance. More inexpensive blades are usually constructed of particle board; however, on the other hand, solid wood can sometimes warp. Balance is extremely important, as unbalanced fans will wobble.

We recommend that you discuss your selection with a reputable lighting representative to determine the best fit for your needs in terms of construction.

As with any lighting fixture, you want to ensure that your ceiling fan provides the appropriate level of light for your needs. This can vary room to room. For example, you will want brighter lighting in a kitchen vs. a bedroom, where more subdued light is typical.

One option is to install a dimmer switch, which will allow you to adjust the lighting to whatever level of brightness you desire.

Fans are not simply stark, functional objects that move air – style plays an integral role in the selection of a ceiling fan for the home. With the multitude of styles available on the market, you can easily find one (or worse yet – MANY) that complements your home decor. A reputable lighting store will carry a wide range of fans.

Room Size
Fans come in a variety of sizes (32″, 42″, 44″, 50″, 52″, 54″, 56″ blade span). Obviously, room size will dictate the size of fan which you will need to purchase. Placing too big of a fan in a room can look awkward, while a small fan in a large room will be inefficient in terms of air circulation. Some guidelines to follow are:

* Over 12′ – 52 to 54″
* 10′ x 12′ – 44″
* 10′ x 10′ – 42″
* 8′ x 10′ – 32″ – 36″

As a general rule of thumb, with ceilings 9′ high or less, you should select a close mount fan. With ceilings higher than the 9′, you would require a standard or angled mount with an extension down rod.

Your most efficient ceiling fan blade height is 8-9′ above the floor. This also provides you with the greatest cooling effect. So, the higher the ceiling, the greater the length of your down rod to ensure maximum air circulation. Some standard dimensions to keep in mind are:

* 10′ ceiling – 12″ down rod
* 11′ ceiling – 18″ down rod
* 12′ ceiling – 24″ down rod
* 13′ ceiling – 36″ down rod
* 14′ ceiling – 48″ down rod
* 15′ ceiling – 60″ down rod
* 16′ ceiling – 72″ down rod

Reversible Fans
Why a reversible fan? Your fan becomes multi-functional, as it will cool you in the summer, yet keep you warm in the winter by pushing the warm air down at the ceiling (hot air rises) and back into your living space. In these days of high energy costs, this becomes an extremely important feature – particularly for those of you with vaulted or higher ceilings.

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  • Chuck Hall

    Great article on ceiling fans. Just in time because I’m thinking about installing a ceiling fan in my bedroom. Sure will help in figguring out what to buy. Thanks Terry.

  • Mercygirl67

    I still don’t have an answer as to what to look for in a motor that is going to put out a lot of air.  I have 4 ceiling fans but the newest one in the master bedroom just does not come close to doing the job of moving the air around.  I wake up in the middle of the night sweating, but the fans in the other two bedrooms and the kitchen will run you out they are so powerful.  How do I determine the power of the motor?  What am I to look for?  The one in the master bedroom is the newest.  THe others are all at least 18 years old and are perfect. 

  • Er_sandeep

    maza aa gaya pad k


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