Ceiling Fan Basics

Welcome to Ceiling Fan Basics
Energy Efficient Ceiling Fans

Energy Efficient Ceiling Fans

Today ceiling fans are an important part of creating the perfect home decor. For those hot, humid days of summer, there's nothing more wonderful than a cool breeze. Fans have become more technologically advanced, providing cooling in the summer months and warming in the winter months to drastically save on your energy bill up to 40% in the summer and 10% in the winter, using only as much as energy as a 100 watt light bulb. Fans are used in the main rooms in your home, patios, verandas, kitchens and bathrooms; anywhere dampness may be an issue.

EnergyStar® provides certification for energy efficient ceiling fans.  Each EnergyStar® certified ceiling fan meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.  EnergyStar® qualified ceiling fan/light combination units are at least 50% more efficient than conventional ceiling fan/light units.  

Ceiling fans can provide years of comfort and beauty. Select a fan that coordinates your individual home style by choosing the color, finish, blade design, size, accessories, lighting and style. There are many styles to choose from, including polished brass, antique brass, iron, copper, nickel, pewter, chrome, black, vibrant colors, oak, rosewood and other real wood veneers. There are candelabra fans available and many fans are accessorized by matching pendants, lamps and sconces.

Ceiling Fan Size Chart

Fans range from 36" to 60". For maximum comfort and efficiency the size of the fan should be matched on the size of the room

Room Size Square Footage Fan Size
Smaller rooms - 10' x 10' 36" - 38" up to 100 sqft.
Medium rooms - 15' x 15' 42" - 48" up to 225 sqft.
Larger rooms - 10' x 25' 52" - 60" up to 500 sqft.

Ceiling Fan Placement

Place the fan higher than 7ft. above the floor in the middle of the room for maximum comfort, circulation, safety and aesthetics. Optimal placement would be either 8 or 9ft. from the floor.

Ceiling Fan Blades

Fan blades determine the amount of air being circulated throughout the room. The blade pitch is also important, as this along with the blade span is what determines the degree the fan will cool the room. The steeper the pitch, the more effective the fan will be in moving the air so look for blade pitches that are between 11°and 16° and have been weighed and matched as a balanced set to avoid fan wobble. The greater the angle of the blade the more air circulation you will have in your room. Blades should be made with wood or acrylic and be sealed and treated to resist humidity.

Finish makes the fan blades more durable. A high quality finish will resist against blistering, tarnishing, fading and corrosion. Less advanced finishes on the fan blades can be very fragile and start to peel, bubble and corrode quickly. Brass finishes are long lasting, scratch resistant and never need polishing. Painted finishes are thick, rich and durable as a result of the advanced painting process. Wood blades are still a popular choice; just make sure they are properly sealed to avoid warping. This would be especially important if you plan to install the fan in a room such as a bathroom or kitchen, or outdoors. In addition to wood blades, you will find some that are a paddle design, tropical leaf design, white, and more. Ceiling fans come in just about every design you can think of.

Ceiling Fan Motors

The heart of every ceiling fan is the motor. You will find that they range from 1/60 and 1/3 horsepower. Motors that are higher powered will help produce more air. Additionally, the higher-powered motor will not overheat like fans that have lower powered motors. The motor is responsible for producing quiet operation while driving the blades for air movement. Look for high-quality motors with heavy-duty windings and sealed bearings which never need to be oiled. Another good option is a rubber flywheel, which helps keep torque under control. This helps to stabilize the fan while keeping the level of noise down. Smaller, less powerful motors found on lower quality fans may produce higher operating temperatures, lower air circulation and noisier operation. Motors are designed to work flawlessly and should have a long lasting life.

Ceiling Fan Light Options

You do not need to have a light with your fan but it does add the finishing touch. You can choose from classic to contemporary lights to complement your home decor. Opal, marble, crystal, glass and hand blown glass can also be added to a fitter or fixture shade to enhance the design. Light kits can also be added. Uplighting is also available; the light bounces off the ceiling to create more of a mood effect than the traditional downlighting for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Ceiling Fan Types

You can choose to have the fan mounted flush to the ceiling or hung down from a pole. There are systems available that allow a flush-to-ceiling mounting so there is extra clearance, a standard type of hanging using a down rod, or for vaulted ceilings, an angled mounting. The last option can accommodate pitches as great as 34°. When additional clearance is needed, such as a very low ceiling height or that you are very tall, choose a ceiling hugger fan designed to make sure there is maximum clearance without giving up any air movement.

Additionally, for those extra high ceilings, there are extension down rods, which work best with blades from 7 to 8ft. If you have a ceiling that measures 9ft. or more, the extension down rod will help position the fan so it is at the appropriate height to the floor. As an example, if you have a 12ft. ceiling, the extension downroad would need to be 3ft. This would position the fan to 8ft. from the floor and allow 1ft. for the fan itself for a total of 12ft.

Ceiling Fan Speeds and Controls

The standard ceiling fan has three or four speeds. Reversible speed indicates that during the winter months, you can reverse the direction of your blades to help push the warmer air captured by the ceiling down into the room. To make this change, you simply switch the reverse switch. For ceiling fans with a wall control, you can easily adjust your speeds anyway you like.

Remote controls have gained popularity, so instead of pulling the chain to change the speed, you can use your remote control without ever climbing out of bed or getting up from the couch. It is almost a requirement these days is a remote control system which allows a user to turn the fan on and off, adjust the speed, and control the fan's operations remotely. This can be done either from a wall unit or from a remote controlled hand-held unit. The remote unit can also have a large number of speed adjustment options as well. This is particularly helpful to adjust the circulation provided by the ceiling fan.

Ceiling Fan Installation and Usage Tips from EnergyStar®

Ceiling fan performance and energy savings rely heavily on the proper installation and use of the ceiling fan. Here are a few tips to ensure quality and product performance.

    Choosing the Appropriate UL-Rated Electrical Box

      Make sure that you use the appropriate UL-listed metal box, marked "For Use with Ceiling Fans." This outlet box is mounted above the ceiling and also is the point where the fan is attached. This box houses all wiring needed to operate and connect the ceiling fan. If you are replacing a ceiling fixture, most likely you will need to replace the electrical box.

    Mounting the Ceiling Fan

      If possible, the ceiling fan should be anchored to a ceiling joist. In the case that the joist is not located in the center of the room, a special ceiling fan mounting bracket with spiked ends should be installed between joists. Keep in mind that ceiling fans can weigh as much as 50lbs.!

    Balancing a Wobbly Fan

      All fan blades should be balanced prior to shipment; however, if the fan is wobbly after installation, there are ways to fix it. First, make sure that all connections are properly aligned and tightly fastened. Check the alignment of the blades by holding a yardstick vertically along the edges; you may be able to gently bend a misaligned blade holder back into proper place. If all blades are aligned, a balancing kit can then be used to pinpoint the culprit. These kits are either provided within product packaging (e.g., balancing clips and blade weights) or can be sent by the manufacturer free of charge.

    Turn Off When Out of the Room

      Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. If the room is unoccupied, turn off the ceiling fan to save energy.

    Use the Ceiling Fan Year Round

      In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the counter-clockwise direction. The airflow produced by the ceiling fan creates a wind-chill effect, making you "feel" cooler. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space. Remember to adjust your thermostat when using your ceiling fan - additional energy and dollar savings could be realized with this simple step!

Top Tips for Buying a Ceiling Fan

Finding the fan that works best for your home is a breeze, when you follow the expert's advice.

  • Ceiling height is important when choosing a fan. For safe operation, fan blades should be at least 7ft. above the floor. A blade height of 8 - 9ft. is optimal.
  • Look for a motor that can do the job. "The heart of the fan is its motor," says Mark Jeffrey, marketing manager for Emerson Electric Company Air Comfort Products Division in St. Louis, MO. "You can't see it but it is the real workhorse."
  • The amount of air moved by a ceiling fan depends on the angle, or pitch, of its blades. A pitch of 14 degrees is optimal for maximum air movement.
  • Consider your home's style. "If you want the fan to be part of your home's decor, look for colors and detail that complement," says Casablanca Fan Company's John Pearson. "If you want the fan to 'disappear,' choose one the color of the ceiling."
  • Look for light fixtures and fitters that match your fan's finish.
  • Determine if you will need electrical wiring brought to the part of the room you want to add the fan. Since most fans replace existing lights, the wiring is usually already in place.
  • When adding a fan to the bathroom, look for one specifically designed and UL-listed for damp locations. Want one for the patio? Choose a fan that is UL-listed for wet locations.
  • Buy the best quality you can afford. With a higher quality fan, operation will be quieter, performance will be better and designs will be more complimentary
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