How to Select a Ceiling Fan

There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting a ceiling fan. This article outlines these factors, and simplifies the selection process.


Ceiling fans are a great way to efficiently maintain the comfort levels of the inhabitants in your home. They make you feel cooler when it is hot, and warmer when it is cold outside.  Ceiling fans are also decorative, and add to the beauty of a home.  There are, however, many other important factors to consider when you select a ceiling fan for your home.  In this article we take an in-depth look at these factors.


Factors to Consider When  Selecting a Ceiling Fan

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.

Ceiling Fan Fundamentals

Ceiling Fan

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.

With all of the energy efficient lighting options available now, it makes great sense to purchase a fan with an energy efficient light kit.  LED lights operate much cooler and have a very long bulb life so make a great choice.


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.

As you can see from the information above, a little bit of thought needs to go into the selection of a ceiling fan.  Take the time to consider the room you will be installing the fan in and identify the best size of fan for the room.  Make sure you select a style that complements your decor.  Consider your budget but try to purchase the best quality fan within that budget.

Additional Resources to Help With Your Search for a Fan and Installation Options

Complex isn’t it! This is such a big topic that I’ve developed a number of different articles and videos covering in depth the subject of choosing and installing ceiling fan, and how to deal with options such as fans with remote controls, different light controls, and the new 5-minute installation fans. Hope they help!

Helpful Articles and Videos:


Still More Questions?



Are there still questions that you need answered about ceiling fans?  Feel free to ask your question below or check out my Facebook page and ask there.  You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel and check out the many free videos covering a number of different DIY wiring topics, including many instructing you on ceiling fan installation.

Do You Have the DIY Skills to Install That Ceiling Fan?


The installation of a ceiling fan is something most DIYers are capable of doing.  However, if you’re not sure that your understanding of working around electricity and DIY skills have prepared you for installing that ceiling fan or any other home wiring project, here’s a great resource to bring your skill levels up to speed.

“The Basics of Household Wiring” is a comprehensive resource (available as a DVD, instant download or e-book) that will give you the information you need to tackle this type of home wiring project easily and, more importantly, competently.  Don’t be intimidated by a DIY project that has you working around electricity.  The Basics of Household Wiring will teach you how to do DIY wiring projects safely!

Need a little more information?  Take a few minutes to watch this video clip for a good overview of the type of top notch instruction you’ll receive in this great resource.   Order or download your copy today.

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