Today, millions of homes are built with central air conditioning as a standard feature. There are, still, however, many older homes that have no equipment to fight against common heat waves in certain parts of the country. There is also another large group of homeowners that either cannot afford to install air conditioning units or that does not feel the costs of the units are warranted, given the few days per year that they might experience hot weather. For these individuals, an electric fan may offer an excellent substitute.
Electric fans come in a varied selection of colors, styles and features. They come in boxed shapes, rectangles, and circles. They might be small enough to sit on a desk, or instead, have their own pedestals attached for maximum air coverage. Some have more than one speed while others oscillate (meaning to go back and forth or side to side). It is quite amazing today the price range and selection of portable fans. Often, department stores and hardware retailers advertise fans in sale flyers at certain times of the year for less than ten dollars, while exclusive boutiques sell elaborate and opulent fans for hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Today, electric fans are much safer than many years ago. For instance, the designs on the coverings must be small enough that children cannot stick their fingers through and have them damaged from the rotating blades. Depending on the power and size of the fan, manufacturers are required by law to employ a grounded wire, as well, making the plug a three-prong instead of two. And, of course, the motor mechanism cannot exceed a particular temperature in order to avoid fire hazards and to prevent burns to the users’ bodies.
For the most part, electric fans manufactured now consume less energy, and therefore, are cheaper to run for long periods of time. They are also much easier to clean, and in some cases, quieter than their old counterparts. In fact, modern fans are rated for their noise or sound levels. The specifications on the box generally display this information along with the watts and amps.
Best of all, shoppers are not limited to the basic colors. Portable fans, like ceiling fans, are now fashionable. They are equally suited to the home’s decorating theme and to professional settings such as office spaces. The designs can be soft and feminine in nature, or rugged and masculine. Whatever ambiance you wish to create, the fan can definitely add to the atmosphere.
Basically, there are two categories of electric fans.
Hardwired Electric Fans:
The first group is called “hardwired” because the fans are installed by a qualified electrician and connected or wired right into the electrical system in the home, office or other area. Most commercial buildings would use this type of system, primarily for safety purposes. Large industrial type fans are installed in such a way that the general public would not have access to them and so that the blades are not exposed.
Likewise, in homes, the hardwired fan is customarily found above the stove in the kitchen and mounted in the ceiling cavity in the bathroom. Neither are used to cool the rooms down, but rather, to circulate the air and remove any unwanted odors. In both instances, the fans are also know as “extractor fans” for the obvious reason of extracting smoke, steam, and smells from the air.
Further, in the bathroom, circulating the air reduces the humidity and condensation, thus, preventing mold from building up to dangerous levels. In older homes, the bathroom ceiling fans are actually wired into the lighting, so that when you turn on the light switch, the fan systematically turns on too. Various models are installed with a time delay feature so that the fan automatically runs for a preset time limit once the switch is turned off.
Portable or Plugin Electric Fans:
The second type of fan is the “portable” which means it is plugged into the standard electrical outlet in any room and can be moved easily to another room simply by unplugging the unit and carrying it, cord intact, to a variety of locations.
Moreover, within these two categories of electric fans, there is an abundance of models including the ceiling fan with blades and lights, pedestal fans, desk fans, box-style fans with feet to stand on the floor, oscillating fans, fans with reversible blades, dual fans that fit into windows, and low voltage fans to be used in high risk areas such as near water in the bathroom. For example, a fan that is placed near the bathtub, shower or sink would be low voltage and would most likely be approved with an insulation rating that demonstrates how well the inside of the mechanism is protected from water splashes.
Incredibly, fans have been such an important part of history that there is an actual club called the Antique Fan Collectors Association (AFCA) that boasts members with over twenty years experience in fan collection and well over seventy fans each in their personal collections. (Find out more here – http://www.fancollectors.org/).
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(This website has some very detailed info on energy efficiency).