Installation: Do You Need A Downrod for Your Ceiling Fan?

What’s the big deal?  You hang a ceiling fan in the middle of the ceiling and you’re done with it.  As long as it looks nice, who cares?  Well, that’s all well and good – unless your ceilings are only 8 feet high and you are 7 feet tall.  The first time you walked under that fan you’d start caring, that’s for sure. 

Here’s how to tell whether you need a flush mount fan or an extended fan with a downrod.

The ideal height for the  fan blades is 7 to 9 feet from the floor.  At this height you’ll receive the maximum benefits of the circulating air.  Obviously, if you’re 7 feet 2 inches tall, then you’d want to make sure the fan blades are at least 7 feet 4 inches off the floor.  Otherwise, you’ll either be doing a lot of stooping when you walk through the room or you’re going to have a headache the next time you forget to duck!

If you have very high or vaulted ceilings then you’ll want to use a downrod to bring the fan closer to the floor and allow it to hang level with the floor.

But if you have low ceilings you’ll want to look for a fan that allows for flush mounting, meaning the motor housing mounts right up against the ceiling.  Not all fans can be flush mounted, especially if they have large, rounded blades like the popular palm frond blades, or if the blades have a high pitch.

A flush mount fan has one major drawback.  Because it’s so close to the ceiling the airflow is inhibited.  It’s like putting a floor fan up against a wall.  It’ll move some of the air around but not nearly as much as it would if it was mounted at least a few inches from the ceiling.

If you’re adding a light fixture to your fan you’ll also need to include its length in your calculation.  So, if you want to install a fan with a light fixture in a room that already has a low ceiling, understand that you may have to use a flush mount fan, which means you’ll be sacrificing air circulation so you can have that extra light.

If you’re installing a fan in a nursery or children’s room you might be tempted to try to have your cake and eat it, too.  After all, it’s going to be years before you have to worry about the kids being tall enough to bump their head on the ceiling fan.  But don’t forget, you’re going to be in and out of that room, too, sometimes in the middle of the night, while you’re still half asleep, stumbling around in the dark, when the last thing you want to do is head-butt your new fan!

And a lower ceiling fan is just too tempting for children.  It becomes a merry-go-round for dolls and they’re tempted to tie on balloons or other toys.  And then there’s the climbing and, well, you get the picture!

If you’ve never installed a ceiling fan and you’re worried about “flush mounting” and “downrods” and “light fixtures” and just how complicated it might be, there’s really no need.  Manufacturers today have designed their fans so most have just a few steps, requiring minimal tools, and they include easy-to-follow directions.  Most take less than 30 minutes to install, even for beginners.

Also this blog is full of great tips and advice to help you out so just have a look around and see what you find.


One thought on “Installation: Do You Need A Downrod for Your Ceiling Fan?

  1. Is it safe to flush mount a ceiling fan on an angled ceiling? A friend did this in their home, and not only does it look awkward, I wonder if the fan will fail mechanically for this reason. An electrician told her “it’s OK,” and who am I to argue, but I want some other opinions for my own knowledge. Thanks!

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