What’s better than sitting on your porch swing and enjoying a warm summer evening with a cold glass of iced tea? How about swinging on your porch and sipping cold iced tea under the cool breeze of an outdoor ceiling fan! Outdoor fans are great for keeping porches and patios cool during the summer, but there are some important factors to think about when buying outdoor ceiling fans.
If you're looking for an affordable, high-quality fan, then check out our huge outdoor ceiling fan selection. Look for a fan that matches your home’s style and appearance, or one that could enhance your outdoor area’s overall ambiance. Once you find an outdoor ceiling fan you love, you can use our How to Install a Ceiling Fan video and guide to help ensure the installation process is smooth and quick. But first, let’s explain the difference between an indoor fan and a porch fan.
What’s the Difference between Indoor & Outdoor Fans?
If you’re considering using an indoor fan for your outdoor space, please know that outdoor ceiling fans are built to withstand the harsh exterior elements that interior fans often can't handle. Here's the difference:
Indoor: Dry-Rated Fans
- Indoor fan blades are typically made with high-quality, furniture-grade woods.
- These fans offer a much larger variety of sizes, colors, and designs.
- Generally speaking, indoor fans have more electronic features and control options.
Outdoor: Wet- or Damp-Rated Fans
- Outdoor fan blades are made with special ABS plastic and are known as All-Weather blades.
- These fans are built with galvanized tubular steel and powder-coated paint finishes that stop corrosion and rust.
- The motor casing on an outdoor fan features a waterproof seal, which helps protect it from moisture.
DRY FANS VS DAMP- & WET-RATED CEILING FANS
All indoor and outdoor ceiling fans have an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating to help you determine which to buy based on the ceiling fan’s intended location. Dry-rated fans should always be used indoors and away from areas where moisture can accumulate. Wet- or damp-rated fans can be used both indoors or outdoors; the difference between these outdoor fan types focuses on how much moisture the fixture may be exposed to.
UL Dry Rating
UL Dry-rated ceiling fans are great for indoor uses, including living rooms and bedrooms. As long as these fans aren’t used in damp rooms, like bathrooms or laundry rooms, they’ll have long and healthy service lives. However, it’s never a good idea to place these fans outdoors. The exposure to the elements will ruin a dry-rated ceiling fan quickly. If you can keep these fans away from all forms of moisture, they will provide long-lasting cooling for your home or office.
Suggested locations for dry-rated fixtures include:
- Dining Rooms
UL Damp Rating
UL Damp-rated ceiling fans are ideal for covered outdoor locations that have no direct exposure to water, rain, or snow. These outdoor fans can handle moisture and damp areas like a pro, but don’t like getting rained on directly. Use these fans in the in-between places of your home or facility to cool the area and keep the air circulating.
Suggested locations for damp-rated ceiling fans include:
- Covered Patios
- Screened Porches
UL Wet Rating
UL Wet rated ceiling fans can handle it all. You could spray these fans with a hose to clean them and they will still hold up great. They can handle ice, snow, and intense rain equally well, and can also stand up to the harsh, salty breezes from the ocean. This is the fan you want around while you’re outside trying to enjoy the day without so much summer heat.
Suggested locations for wet-rated ceiling fans include:
- Exposed Decks
- Verandas or Lanais outside a seaside home
Now that you know what type of ceiling fan to buy, you may want to check out our How to Buy a Ceiling Fan Guide to ensure you purchase the perfect ceiling fan. If you are unsure of how big your fan should be for your room size, you might want to view our What Ceiling Fan Size Do I Need Guide to determine which size you need based on the dimensions of your space.
Best Outdoor Ceiling Fans By Location
The 42" Minka-Aire Sundance is a very popular wet-rated outdoor ceiling fan for those looking to install a fan in an area that is often wet. The oil-rubbed bronze finish and the all-weather dark oak combine beautifully to make this an excellent fixture for your porch, patio, courtyard, or gazebo. The ability to withstand the natural elements, the small, 42” blade diameter , the 3,428 CFM rating, and the 65.6 high-efficiency rating make this fan choice a no-brainer. The 4.9 user review rating was only a bonus to backup what we already know about this quality ceiling fan.
The best-damp rated outdoor ceiling fan is an easy decision when the 48" Hunter Sea Wind fan is an option. The white ceiling fan blades against the white motor housing really brings the traditional Hunter style and craftsmanship to the forefront, and its classic style ensure it will match any location. The simplicity, reliability, popularity, and most importantly, the UL damp listing, rockets this ceiling fan to the top of our list. The flush mount ability is an added benefit for consumers considering the Hunter Sea Wind.
- Covered Deck
The 52" Ellington Knightsbridge’s unique aesthetics creates a beautiful centerpiece for any room. The elegant glass cover helps brighten the area, and when combined with the fan’s high CFM rating, you’ll quickly understand why we put the Ellington Knightsbridge in the #1 spot for covered decks.
There aren’t any fans that are better fit for a sunroom than the 54" Hunter Key Biscayne. The combination of the damp UL rating, high CFM rating, and maritime styling makes this fan the very best for your outdoor sunroom.
Although the blade span on the 48" Westinghouse Oasis is on the smaller side, the airflow efficiency ensures a great breeze in your gazebo. This elegant, wet-rated ceiling fan features wonderful coastal styling with fan blades that resemble tropical leafs. The lighting design resembles an old-style lantern with a great efficiency rating, which helped this fan land our #1 spot for gazebo fans.
The 54" Minka-Aire Java Kocoa is, by far, the best ceiling fan to use with a pergola. Although the wet rating is its most important aspect, the sleek, modern, and compact design is an important factor for having this fixture as #1. The great looks, low electricity use, and high airflow rating influenced this decision.
When it comes to selecting an outdoor fan for a lanai, the value of the 52" Minka-Aire Traditional Concept supersedes similar fans. The UL listed wet rating, traditional design, attached light kit, and included remote create the best value for outside your home.
The large 60" Emerson Loftis outdoor fan the perfect choice for any veranda. The multiple finish options ensure you can match this fan to any design, style, or décor that is already in place. The theme surrounding your veranda can be complete with this simple, large, and efficient ceiling fan.
Are you looking for the best garage ceiling fan? The 54" Hunter Bayview ceiling fan is the finest choice for installation in your garage and workshop. The decorative blades are reversible and resemble palm leaves. Although it is available in dark and light finishes, we prefer the darker Provencal Gold for a workshop that only requires additional air circulation.
- Pool House
The decorative 54" Casablanca Charthouse, with its decorative fan blades designed to resemble palm leaves, is perfect for a warm pool house. The high CFM ratings and efficient operation creates the perfect combination for a warm outdoor space, while the wet rating and wide blade span creates a cool, comfortable environment for all of your guests in the pool house.
- Florida Room
The 52" Hunter Bridgeport is the best damp-rated ceiling fan to install in your Florida room. The all-weather blades make the large fixture easy to clean and maintain while remaining practical and decorative. The bronze housing, coupled with the oak-looking fan blades, creates a comfortable atmosphere for your family and friends.
The small 30" Quorum Estate Patio is perfect for any bathroom. The short blade span is compensated with a 6th blade and great energy efficiency rating. The wet rating makes this ceiling fan great for circulating air around a tiny bathroom full of steam.
Are you looking for the perfect ceiling fan for your carport? The 52" Savoy House Nomad wet-rated fixture is the ideal match. The color availability, large blade span, and airflow efficiency sets that fan apart from the rest. This is the fixture you need to cool your warm carport.
Can Indoor Fans Be Used Outdoors?
Indoor dry-rated fans are not designed to withstand the outdoors, as even a small amount of moisture getting into the motor will lead to the fixture dying much faster than it should. Worst case scenario: using a dry fan in a damp or wet location could lead to dangerous situations. Some of the things that could happen when dry-rated ceiling fans are used in wet or even damp environments include the following.
- Burned. The hardware of your fan could begin to rust, creating the potential for exposed wiring and electrical fires, leaving burned ceilings, fans, outlets, and more.
- Melted. Your blades could begin to warp or melt due to heat/moisture and become uneven, causing poor circulation, noise, or a wobble to begin.
- Rusted. The finish of your ceiling fan could begin to rust, tarnish, and fade, leaving you with a dull, lackluster ceiling fan.
Bottom line, water and exposed electrical elements never work well together. That's why the protected UL Damp or Wet ceiling fan is what you need outside. Why waste your hard-earned money on the wrong ceiling fan? Keep your home safe by installing the proper rated ceiling fan in the right location. UL Wet or Damp ceiling fans in outdoor locations will last so much longer.
How to Install an Outdoor Ceiling Fan
Installing an outdoor ceiling fan is as easy as installing an indoor ceiling fan. You should read the owner's manual to familiarize yourself with the detailed directions; however, here's a brief overview. Prior to installing an exterior ceiling fan, make sure the power is turned off at the circuit breaker box. Then, confirm all the necessary parts and tools are included in the original packaging. You may pre-assemble the downrod and fan blades to save time. Next, follow the instructions below:
- Install the mounting bracket to the junction box
- Hang the ceiling fan body from the bracket
- Connect the wires as follows: green ground wires, white neutral wires, and black power wires
- Attach the blades to the motor housing snuggly
- Fasten all screws tightly
Lastly, turn the power back on and test the new exterior ceiling fan at the highest speed. Look for wobbling and listen for noises that indicate additional balancing in necessary. If you have any issues with your newly installed indoor or outdoor ceiling fan, read through our ceiling fan troubleshooting guide for more information.