A ceiling fan is a must-have home appliance for summer. Whether you’re a first-time ceiling fan buyer or you’re looking to replace an existing one, the choices can be overwhelming. Here are answers to seven frequently asked questions to help you avoid buyer’s remorse and help you buy a ceiling fan for your home.
- Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is your budget?
- Where will the fan go?
- What size do you need?
- What lighting options are available?
- What styles and finishes are available?
- What kind of energy efficiency and airflow is available?
- What kind of controls are available?
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Whether you have $50, $500 or $1,500 to spend, there’s a ceiling fan to fit your budget. If you’re in the market to buy a ceiling fan, here’s what you can expect for the following prices:
Expect the basics – a traditional fan with or without lighting and pull chain control. What shouldn’t you expect? A lot of style options. These simple, inexpensive fans are ideal for starter apartments and homes. Budget options like these are also great for rental properties, contractors who need to order many at a time, and anyone watching their spending.
Expect more style, finish and lighting options from fans in this category. These still-affordable, mid-priced fans generally feature a transitional design, somewhere on the style spectrum between traditional and contemporary, with curvilinear blades and integrated lighting. These fans are ideal for most apartments, homes, and small offices.
Expect improved functionality and motor performance as well as a greater variety of styles, accessories, and fan controls. Ceiling fans in this mid-to-high price range offer reverse function and full-range light dimming. Many of these fans are equipped with DC motors, which consume 70 percent less energy than standard fan motors, and integrated fluorescent lighting for energy savings. These fans are ideal for condos, homes and business offices.
Expect la crème de la crème of ceiling fans with handcrafted blades, deluxe textiles, handcrafted glass, integrated LED lighting, and superior performance. The top-of-the-line fans are available in many styles ranging from vintage-inspired designs to avant-garde designs. These fans are ideal for high-end homes and commercial or retail spaces.
Budget Tip: Take advantage of online sales and promotions to snag a new ceiling fan. Often, these sales include fan controls and other accessories at no additional cost.
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 that location.
- The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) assigns the following location-based ratings:
- UL Dry - 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 - 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 - 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. Learn more about ratings, and where to use what fan on our indoor/outdoor fan buying guide.
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 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:
- Flush Mount - A flush mount application is intended for rooms where the ceiling height is less than 8 feet. The low profile fan installs flush against the ceiling, allowing the blades to hang 7 feet above the floor.
- Standard Downrod - 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.
- Extended 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.
- Sloped - A sloped application is intended for room where the ceiling slants at 32 degrees or higher. The fan installs into the ceiling with the use of an adapter.
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 – 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
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 – halogen, fluorescent or LED.
- Halogen - 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 - Fluorescent light sources use 75 percent less energy than incandescent light sources and have an average life span of 10,000 hours. Ceiling fans with CFL bulbs emit cool or warm lighting.
- LED - 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.
5. Style, Finish, & Color
- The right ceiling fan will complement your home décor effortlessly. When you are out to buy a ceiling fan, keep in the mind the following:
- Antique - 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. The light kit includes 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 - Contemporary ceiling fans are a great addition to any modern and transitional space. The modern style 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 - Rustic ceiling fans pair well with country, mission and western interiors. The 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 like 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 - Tropical ceiling fans complement coastal, island, and nautical home interiors. The island-inspired ceiling 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.
- Finish/Color - 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. Brushed nickel finishes are popular and versatile. Fan finishes and colors are available to match any room. Try a white ceiling fan for porches, or rooms with a light color scheme.
6. Efficiency & Airflow
The motor is the heart of any ceiling fan. The fan motor 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. Consider the factors below the next time you buy a ceiling fan:
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 direct current motors also produce less heat and are virtually silent.
ENERGY STAR-qualified ceiling fans must meet a rigorous set of criteria before earning EPA's seal of approval. Here"e;s what you can expect when you buy a ceiling fan that is ENERGY STAR qualified:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wall Control - The 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 multi-purpose rooms.
- Pull Chain - 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.