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.
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.