Things To Know Before Buying A Ceiling Fan

Things To Know Before Buying A Ceiling Fan

Last updated on June 12, 2024

Ceiling fans are a basic necessity for billions of people around the globe. Ceiling fans are essential for relaxing the environment when the weather is hot or humid.

The rotating blades of fans generate cool air, which allows for the circulation of air and the evaporation of sweat, gradually cooling the body and surroundings. Simple yet quite impressive!

Operation Of Household Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are perfect for households as they help circulate the air uniformly throughout the room. This is achieved through rotating rotor blades which create a wind-chill effect, in turn accelerating the cooling of a room, where breezes generated by ceiling fans can make the space up to 8°F cooler.

Specialists estimate that a ceiling fan is so efficient in decreasing room temperature that you can actually reduce your thermostat setting by 4 degrees without observing a difference in comfort.

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According to research, a correctly installed ceiling fan could make people feel more comfortable – without air conditioning – in temperatures as high as 86°F.

Moreover, this wind-chill effect can be put to opposite use in cooler climates. Manufacturers have set up several types of ceiling fans with reverse operation modes, allowing the fan to spin clockwise, thereby gently pulling air upward and away from the space.

Classification Of Ceiling Fans

The wide variety of options and ceiling fan types available online can be overwhelming for buyers to navigate and make an informed choice. Terms and technical issues might be biased to steer customers towards a specific brand and could complicate the selection process.

To help guide customers through this process, below is a list of key features to consider before buying a ceiling fan.

Key Features To Consider

1. Motor type

Being the heart of the fan, motor type and rating should be closely studied. The motor should have a wide range of ball bearings and should be selected based on the operation intended for the fan and its ease of maintenance and lubrication.

2. Blades

Most residential fans have four plastic, metal, or wooden blades. Blades should be considered in terms of operation, finish to match the interior and location in the house. For example, metal blades may have sharper edges and with the loud operation.

3. Sound Level

Ceiling fans should also be studied in relation to the sound they produce when running, as loud operation might be irritating in certain spaces like bedrooms or living rooms.

4. Energy star label

Fans with the Energy Star-label typically are typically 20% more efficient than standard ceiling fans. It is always advisable to choose an energy-efficiency certification label, to save on energy costs and be more environmentally friendly.

5. Warranty

Depending on the manufacturer, the warranty period can vary between a few months to a few years. The period and terms of the warranty should be studied well prior to purchase.

6. RPM

RPM refers to rounds (or revolutions) per minute. It highlights the speed at which the fan operates and thus its capacity to cool the spaces. Most fans have at least three-speed settings, measured in RPMs.

7. Custom Settings

Households with elevated tilted ceilings could require further assessment of custom features, such as a sloped ceiling adapter, that make the fan suitable for operation in such spaces.

Importance Of Proper Installation

It’s best to install fans in the rooms where people spend the longest time in, such as living rooms or bedrooms. The house needs to be surveyed for hot spots and particular locations that get warmer than other areas, such as sunrooms or windowed kitchens.

In colder climates, fans can be installed in rooms with high roofs or over stairways to help to balance the air temperatures. Some experts also advise installing the fans close to wooden stoves or gas fireplaces as the rotating blades will force the warm air into the space, efficiently warming it.

More importantly, when installing fans in households, special attention must be given for ceiling heights and room dimensions.

The blades of the fan must be at least 7 feet above the ground, ideally between 8 and 10 feet to help promote the most suitable airflow in the space. Additionally, the blades should be no less than 18 inches from opposite walls or sloping ceilings for safe operation.

An additional feature for most ceiling fans allows for year-round use by operating on two settings:


Counterclockwise blade rotation allows the ceiling fan to pull cooler air up during the summer.


A clockwise rotation forces hot air down during winter, enabling it to flow freely and adjust the space temperature.

These features make ceiling fans a versatile solution for any room within the household. Accordingly, it is important to check the UL rating of the fan which specifies the type of environment where the fan operates and it’s suitability for wet or dry settings.

UL Approved for Dry Locations

For fans fitted with lighting, the “Dry Places Only” rating is by far the most prevalent of the UL listings.

A dry rating or more commonly “UL Listed” rating means the luminaire is suited to use in a place that is rarely, if ever, subject to dampness or humidity. As such, they are typically used indoors in non-damp rooms such as kitchens, dining rooms, hallways, offices, conference rooms, and reception areas.

Special permits might be required for using UL dry-location listed fixtures in areas where temporary dampness may occur, such as building construction sites or above bathroom mirrors

UL Approved for Damp Conditions

Luminaires marked “Suitable for Damp Locations” are good options to install in places with high humidity and moisture.

These fixtures can endure very small levels of fluid on the surface, around or within their electronic systems, however, does not cover direct water contact. This rating also includes areas that are partially water-protected.

You can use indoor, damp location-listed lights in washing rooms, bathrooms, utility rooms, cellars, and similar areas. They can also be used outside in protected areas, such as encased patios or porches, since these areas are generally not exposed to direct snow or rain.

UL Listed for Wet Locations

Ceiling fans and lights can also be listed for wet locations, and allow usage in any space, as they permit liquids to be in direct contact with electronics. The liquid could be a slow drip, a strong flow, or any water type between. T

hey are commonly used outdoors for site lighting, wall packs, open-air decks, walkway lights, gazebos, signs, and holiday lights. Indoor applications range from enclosed showers to pool areas and freezers.

Wet location 3 sub-markings

 ➜ Covered Ceiling Mount Only

These luminaires are only for front-side water contact but not the backside. Proper care must be given during installation to ensure that the fan is not exposed to water exposure beneath the mounting location, such as vehicle washing areas.

➜ Suitable for installation within 1.2 M (4 Feet) of the ground

This sub-marking allows for intermittent splashing and exposure, such as from a lawn sprinkler, however, is not suitable for below ground use, where it may become completely submerged.

➜ Suitable for Recessed Ground-Mounted

Fixtures with this sub-marking can be completely mounted underground, with regular immersion safely.

DOE Types of ceiling fans

The US Department of Energy (DOE) defines a variety of ceiling fan types as part of the “Uniform Test Method for Measuring the Energy Consumption of Ceiling Fans.

Standard ceiling fan

Any ceiling fan with a diameter greater than 18 inches but less than 7 feet and where the lowest point of the fan’s blades is more than 10 inches below the ceiling.

Large-diameter ceiling fan

Any ceiling fan with a diameter greater than 7 feet falls into the category. Experts refer to them as High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans.


Apart from these two main types of ceiling fans, the DOE describes many other frequently used fan types, many of which fall under the category of small-diameter ceiling fans.

Small-diameter ceiling fan

This category includes ceiling fans with a diameter greater than 18 inches but less than or equal to seven feet, an airflow of at least 1,840 CFM and a rotational speed of more than 90 RPM at its maximum speed.

Any small-diameter ceiling fan

This type of ceiling fan has a blade thickness of less than 3.2 mm at the edge.

Ceiling fan with a small diameter and low speed

Here’s a simple thing to think about—a ceiling fan with a small diameter and a blade thickness greater than or equal to 3.2 mm, where thicker blades lower the rotational speed. 

Hugger ceiling fan

This fan is a low-speed small-diameter ceiling fan with the lowest point on the blades less than or equal to 10 inches from the ceiling.

Ceiling fan with a minimal diameter

The blades on this fan type have a span of 18 inches or less, an airflow of at least 1,840 CFM, and a rotational speed of more than 90 RPM at maximum speed.

Fans with light kits

In rooms such as living areas or bedrooms, ceiling fans can be both an air circulator and a light source. Fans with a light kit feature a drop-down base with a lamp securely fixed beneath the fan blades.

These fans could also be fitted with general uplighting for ambience and to provide sufficient distribution of light to meet a wide range of activities. The type, intensity and effect of the light kit depend on the space where the light is installed as well as the purpose and operation of this space.

Fans with Downrod Included

For most fan setups, the ideal position of the fan is around 8′ to 9′ above the floor to allow for maximum airflow. When installing a fan in a room with high ceilings, the download, a limited pole section should be used to decrease the fan’s altitude.

Downloads are available in 6-inch segments that connect to the outer sheath of the fan from one end and to the ceiling bracket from the other. They are strong enough to support the fan’s load against the engine’s force and the blade’s circular dynamism.

Dual motor ceiling fans

Ceiling fans with dual motors operate by connecting two engines with a sturdy horizontal bar. The motors can rotate the blades vertically, at an angle, or even parallel to the floor.

Industrial Versus Commercial Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are classified as either industrial or commercial, depending on the environment where people use them. Typically fans intended for industrial purposes are more durable and powerful, and their motors use gears to power the airfoils that circulate the air.

Agriculture fans

A specific type of fans targeting agricultural applications such as horse barns, dairy or hog farms or poultry houses. Ventilation in these facilities is a critical factor to maintain the health of the animals and the people caring for them.

Summary Of Ceiling Fan Types

Larger diameter fans can typically circulate more air than smaller diameter ones. The rotational speed of the fan is limited by the diameter of the blades which increases to prevent excessive noise during operation, particularly near the blade tip.

Furthermore, where fans are mounted at blade heights less than 10 ft, as is the case with almost all standard fans, the rotational speed must be limited to meet safety criteria UL 507 regarding the maximum speed of the blade tips.

Ceiling Fans Blade

Fan blades are essential for the operation and performance of the fan.

Fans range from mini fans with a blade span of 18 inches to huge ceiling fans with blade spans of 68-inches and even up to 99-inches. Choosing the correct ceiling fan size will maximize the fan’s efficiency, make it more fitting within the space and serve its operation as intended.

Energy Efficiency is Key!

Ceiling fans assist in cooling a room by moving air, causing evaporative cooling.

Fans range from 36 to 56 inches and use 55 to 100 watts, with a typical 48-inch ceiling fan using 75 watts. Given their power consumption and periods of use, energy efficiency is essential to study to maintain proper performance, while minimizing energy use.


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    AC vs. DC Ceiling Fans

    Direct current fans, also known as DC fans, are usually battery operated and use a constant flow or voltage that is the same as that of the battery. Voltage levels for DC fans are typically 5V, 12V, 24V and 48V.

    On the other hand, alternating current fans, or AC fans operate by varying the voltage of equivalent positively and negatively charged charges.

    The shifting voltage has a frequency response form. A typical range of sinusoidal waveforms may vary in size and frequency worldwide, such as: (100VAC, 120VAC, 200VAC, 220VAC, 230VAC, 240VAC, with 50Hz or 60Hz).


    Choosing a ceiling fan for the household requires careful study and assessment of your space in relation to the features of the fan, to reach an informed decision on a fan.

    The details and features highlighted in this article can greatly help in guiding customers through this decision process, to get the most suitable type for every application.

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    E-Green Electrical

    E-Green Electrical is a top tier energy efficiency company based in Sydney. We focus on utilising government rebates to help reduce our clients energy consumption by installing energy efficient solutions. E-Green boasts a rich heritage within the realm of energy efficiency, consistently staying up to date with cutting-edge technologies to deliver optimal results for our valued customers.

    We don't just sell products and services; we also provides tips and information on how to help reduce energy consumption. We believe in using energy wisely and teaching others how to do the same. For E-Green, it’s important to share knowledge with the community. That's why we regularly write articles about saving energy, new government rebates available and increasing sustainability.

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