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Ceiling Fan Buying Guide

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Photo: Chancey Design

Benefits of a Ceiling Fan

Below are some important reasons you should consider a ceiling fan for your home.

  • Ceiling fans create healthy airflow.
    ​Ceiling fans effectively circulate air around a room, thereby keeping the air in your home from getting stale and continuously refreshing a space.

  • ​Ceiling fans are energy-efficient and budget-friendly.
    During hot summer days, running an air conditioner all day can be expensive! Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners, which makes them a more environmentally-friendly, cost-efficient choice. Adding a ceiling fan to your home also means that when you do choose to run your AC, you can run it for shorter periods of time and less often, while still being able to circulate cooled air.

  • ​Ceiling fans extend your cooling (and heating) options across seasons.
    In the early summer and fall, it is often not warm enough for an air conditioner, but your home could still benefit from a cooling mechanism. Ceiling fans are a perfect option for circulating air and cooling your home without chilling it to an uncomfortable degree. The same can be applied to cold winter nights. Running your ceiling fan in reverse (which is actually clockwise) during the winter pushes the hot air in a downward, filling the room with warmth much sooner. This allows you to run your home's heating system for shorter periods of time.

  • There are many design options available that can easily match your decor.
    From sleek and modern to ornate and traditional, there is a fan that will blend seamlessly into your home. 

  • Fans with integrated lights can help illuminate and add ambiance to any room.
    Some fans are designed with integrated lights and others are designed to retrofit universal light kits. Depending on the design of the fan, the light can be underneath the blades (which allows maximum light output from the light source) or above the fan (which creates a desired environment). Ceiling fans with lights allow you to use just the light, just the fan, both together, or neither.

  • ​Fans are easy to operate.
    Many fans are designed and developed with easy-to-use remotes or pull chains that can be adapted for light dimmers. This gives you flexibility and the option to adjust the lighting to your preference. 

Ceiling Fan Types

Originally conceived to circulate air and cool a room, today's ceiling fans can also reflect a room's style. Ceiling fans are available in many styles, including outdoor versions, with various features.
ceiling fan

Hanging propeller: The majority of residential ceiling fans are this style, which resembles a plane's propeller hanging from a pole attached to the ceiling.

ceiling fan

These fans can be turned at an angle to ventilate a specific area, as opposed to a hanging propeller model which is meant to ventilate an entire room.

ceiling fan

Rotational: A combination of directional and hanging propeller fans, rotational models have multiple sets (here there are two) of blades that spin independently of each other. The sets are connected to a hanging pole which rotates the sets of blades on a vertical axis, while they are spinning independently.

​Indoor: Any fan can be installed indoors.

Outdoor: Fans specifically made for outdoor use are manufactured to withstand temperature changes and humidity. These fans will have a UL damp or wet rating, meaning that they are suitable for damp and/or wet locations. Outdoor ceiling fans should be at least 52 inches in diameter in order to have the capacity to move enough air around to cool the space. 

​Ceiling Fan Styles

Ceiling fans come in many styles, colors, and shapes to complement any room's decor. Though there are nearly as many ceiling fan styles as decorating schemes, we break down the four main styles.
ceiling fan

Contemporary: Clean lines and a monochromatic color scheme typify contemporary style fans that would pair well with modern, contemporary, or industrial decor.

ceiling fan

Palm Leaf Blades: Named for the shape of a palm leaf, these fans have a tropical, coastal feel. The blades can be made of wood, bamboo, palm fronds, and more.

ceiling fan

Traditional: Fitting a room with traditional decor and furniture, traditional fans often have ornate detailing.

ceiling fan

Transitional: Occupying the middle ground between contemporary and traditional, transitional style fans have clean lines with a touch of embellishment. Because of this, these fans are the easiest to include in a room.

Ceiling Fan Features


A ceiling fan can do double duty when it is combined with lighting. If the ceiling fan of your choice does not have lighting, do a little investigating. The same company may sell a lighting kit that will fit your fan.

  • Dome lighting resembles an upside down dome placed where the blades meet at the middle of the fan.
  • Branched lighting on a ceiling fan looks like two or more tiny spotlights attached to the middle of the fan. Often these lights can be adjusted to light a specific part of the room.
  • Dimmer lights are another option. The dimmer function can be incorporated into the fan's wall or remote control.


Energy-efficient fans must have an Energy Star rating, which is a certification given by the U.S. government. Energy Star rated fans are not any more expensive than non-energy-efficient fans, but they will save you on energy bills.


The motor on your ceiling fan will determine how powerful and energy efficient it will be. There are two kinds of motors:

  • Alternating Current (AC motor): This is a standard motor which uses an alternating current to power the fan. 
  • ​Direct Current (DC motor): This is a more advanced motor that is designed to be up to 70 percent more efficient than standard motors. Fans with this type of motor often cost more.  

Blade Pitch

Blade pitch is the angle at which the blades of a ceiling fan tilt. The angle of the blade pitch affects how much air a ceiling fan will circulate in a room. The ideal blade pitch is between 12 and 15 degrees.


​Conventionally, ceiling fans come with pull cords for on-off operation. However, recent models also use wall-installed or handheld remote controls to make operating a ceiling fan easier.

Wall controls turn fans and lights on and off, dim the lights, or adjust the fan speed easily when you enter or leave a room. You can adjust the fan and lights from the comfort of your favorite chair with a remote control.

Fan Size 

When selecting a ceiling fan size, consider the size of the room it will be placed in. In the chart below, we provide recommendations for ceiling fan size based on the square foot measurements of a room. It is important to note that traditional ceiling fans are measured by the diameter of the fan from blade tip to blade tip (from the end of one blade to the end of the opposite blade). The most common fans range from 50 to 55 inches in diameter.

Room SizeSuggested Fan Size
100 square feet or smaller29-36 inches
101-144 square feet38-42 inches
145-225 square feet44-46 inches
226-399 square feet48-54 inches
400+ square feet56-60 inches

Fan Mounting 

A ceiling fan should be positioned between 7 and 9 feet above the floor for optimal airflow. A mounting system should be chosen based on the room's height and mounting angle. We define the four common mounting systems below. Mounting systems can be bought separately from the fan or can be a part of the fan.

  1. Standard. The standard downrod length is 3 to 5 inches.
  2. Extended or downrod. Extended or downrod mounts are used with tall ceilings, allowing the fan to hang at the most effective height. Choose the correct downrod length to allow your ceiling fan to hang 7 to 9 feet above the ground.
  3. Flush. Flush mounted ceiling fans should be used when the ceiling is 8 feet tall or shorter. This allows the fan to hang at the proper height for ideal airflow.
  4. Sloped. Most ceiling fan mounting systems are meant to be installed on a flat ceiling. However, special sloped mounting adapters can be purchased for ceilings with a pitch or angle.
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