People have been using ceiling fans to circulate air for centuries. You’ve probably seen pictures of Ancient Egyptians waving palm fronds in the air above Cleopatra while she reclined on her ancient sun loungers. While they’ve come a long way since the days of Cleopatra, ceiling fans still have the same benefits – they circulate air, making you feel more comfortable year round.
How do ceiling fans work?
Do they actually change the room temperature, like an air conditioner or furnace? Not really. But they can have a significant effect on the comfort level in your room.Why not just pick up one of those inexpensive box fans at the department store? Because those fans don’t circulate the air. To understand how ceiling fans work, you need to remember back to your grade school science class: Hot air rises and as it rises it’s replaced by cooler air.
During the warm spring months a ceiling fan circulates the air in your room and creates a cooling breeze by pulling cool air up through the room. As the air circulates around your body it has a “wind chill” effect and makes you feel cooler without the use of your air conditioner.
When the temperature heats up during the hot Summer months and you turn on your air conditioner you don’t need to set it as low as you normally would because the ceiling fan has that same cooling effect. It pulls that cooler air up from the floor and circulates it around your body.
As the temperatures start to drop in the Fall and Winter, you reverse the direction of the blades and the fan pulls the warm air down from the ceiling and in from the corners to make the room warmer, allowing you to lower your thermostat and still be comfortable.
Save energy with a ceiling fan
Ceiling fans are much more than decorative accents for your home. They provide cooling breezes in the summer and help circulate warm air throughout the room in the wintertime. But you have an air conditioner and a furnace that perform the same functions, so why bother with a ceiling fan?
A ceiling fan helps reduce your energy usage, which equals a huge savings on your energy bills.
The average central air conditioning system uses about 3 kilowatts per hour and costs about 36 cents per hour to operate. A window air conditioning unit uses about 1.2 kilowatts, costing approximately 14 cents per hour. But a ceiling fan uses only 30 watts of power at less than one penny per hour.
As an added benefit, when you use an air conditioner it automatically turns itself on and off, all day long, based on your thermostat setting and the temperature in the room. With a ceiling fan, you only use it when you’re actually in the room, reducing your energy costs even more.
A ceiling fan allows you to raise your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees and still have the same level of comfort. For example, if you typically set your thermostat at 75 degrees, with a ceiling fan you can set it at 80 or 85 and still be just as comfortable. And each degree equals a 7 to 10 percent savings in your energy bill. Over the course of a year you’ll save hundreds of dollars on your electric bill.
There’s a ceiling fan for every room in your home
Ceiling fans have come a long way from the huge, hulking monstrosities, whirring and clacking away in your grandmother’s parlor. Today’s fans come in a wide range of sizes. No matter how large the room and no matter how high or low the ceilings, you’ll be able to find a fan to suit your needs.
On a budget? Start with the rooms you use most. The family room or living room is the best place to start because that’s where you and your family spend the most time.
Worried that your room might be too large, or maybe you have a low ceiling? Don’t be. Most fans can be adapted for low ceilings, high ceilings or even those cavernous cathedral or vaulted ceilings. Smaller, ceiling hugging fans are ideal for circulating the air in your cozy breakfast nook. Larger blades and extender rods make it possible to condition the air in the largest room in your home.
Then, move on to the bedrooms. Today’s fans are nothing like your grandmother’s. Today’s fans are balanced so there’s no wobbling for smooth, silent operation. There’s no noise to bother you, just a calm, gentle breeze to lull you to sleep.
Next, consider a ceiling fan for the kitchen, dining room and even the bathroom. Every room in your home can be more comfortable with a ceiling fan. As a bonus, you only use it while you’re in the room, so you’re not wasting energy trying to cool a room you’re not using.
How to buy a ceiling fan
The mistake most homeowners make when buying a ceiling fan is to just look at the price. While your budget is certainly a major part of the buying decision, if you don’t buy the right fan for your room you’re just wasting your money – your fan will either be too powerful or not powerful enough. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the best fan for each room in your home.
Ceiling fans are typically installed in the very center of the room. This not only provides maximum air circulation, but it’s generally the best location aesthetically. However, if your home has a great room, you may want to install multiple fans over the different zones.
- If your room is 15′ x 15′ or larger (225 square feet) choose a fan with a blade span of 50”, 52”, 54” or 56”.
- If your room is 12′ x 12′ or larger (144 square feet) choose a fan with a blade span of 42” or 44”.
- If your room is 8′ x 8′ (64 square feet) choose a fan with a blade span of 32”.
You also need to consider ceiling height. For very low ceilings, choose a fan with a motor housing that fits flush with the ceiling.
The ideal height for your fan is 9 feet from the floor. This height provides maximum air circulation throughout the living space and it’s high enough that no one will have to stoop when they walk through the room. If you have cathedral or vaulted ceilings you need an extension down-rod to bring your fan closer to the living space.
When calculating installation height, always remember to include the additional height if you’re adding a light fixture.
Look for fans that have a blade angle of at least 12 degrees. Anything less than 12 degrees and the blade is basically flat, which means all it’s doing is cutting through the air but it’s not circulating it at all.
On the other hand, blades set at a 16 degree angle move a lot of air, which might be too much in some situations. For example, you might not want that much air moving around in a nursery, or in a home office where you have a lot of papers lying around. Generally speaking, choose a fan with a blade angle of 12 or 14 degrees and you’ll be fine.
Special Features To Look For
The most important component of any ceiling fan is the motor. The blades turn on ball bearings located inside the motor housing. Look for a cast metal housing that’s permanently sealed to protect those bearings to you never have to worry about oiling or maintenance.
Because the motor is such an important part of the fan, look for one with a lifetime warranty. If the manufacturer is willing to guarantee it for life then you know you’re looking at a quality motor that been properly sealed and balanced for silent, wobble-free operation.
The next important feature is the blade holders. These, too, should be made of a cast metal for strength and reliability and they should be balanced for silent, wobble-free operation.
The fan blades should be constructed of high quality woods or veneers and then sealed to prevent warping. If you’ll be using your fan outside on your deck or patio, make sure the blades and motor housing are weather-resistant.
If you plan to install a light fixture, make sure you choose a fan that has that capability, as it’s not something you should add using your DIY skills!
Look for a fan that has all the hardware included. Most ceiling fans are easy to install but you don’t want to have to run out to the store and try to find the right screws. Everything should be included in the box.
Look for a fan that’s easy to install. Installing a ceiling fan isn’t rocket science, but some are easier than others. Many manufacturers today have patented one- or two-step installation systems so even the most inexperienced DIY homeowner can install a fan in less than 30 minutes.
Ceiling fans with lights
Enhance the beauty of your ceiling fan with a light fixture kit. Today’s ceiling fans are not only functional; they provide a decorative accent for your home. But up there, on the ceiling, they don’t have quite the impact. When you add a light fixture you not only brighten the space, the fan becomes a part of your décor.
Most ceiling fans are manufactured to allow the addition of a light fixture and most manufacturers create a variety of fixtures to suit your décor. However, before choosing a fixture, make sure it’s compatible with your fan because they’re not all universally compatible.
The ability to add a light fixture also makes it a little bit easier to install your fan. If your room already has a light fixture in the ceiling then in most cases the support bar you’d need for the fan is already there. All you have to do is remove the light fixture and install your fan.
Adding lighting to your fan is really very easy. You just remove the bottom plate and connect a couple of wires.
The most important thing to consider is how much light you want? Do you just want ambient lighting to make your room more warm and welcoming, or do you need a brighter light for reading? Fixtures are available in 2-, 3-, 4-, 5- and 5-bulb varieties. Be sure to check the wattage limitations on the bulb, too and don’t exceed the limit.
Remote control ceiling fans
If your ceilings are low enough you won’t need to worry about being able to reach the controls on your fan to turn it on and off or reverse the direction of the blades. But the ideal height for your fan is 9 feet from the floor. In most cases, that’s going to be a stretch – especially if you have vaulted ceilings.
Many of today’s ceiling fans have some type of remote control feature already built in – but don’t assume they all do. With some you’ll have to add a component to the fan during installation so make sure you look before you buy.
Next, you’ll need the actual remote control device and you have options here, too. Look for hand-held remotes, similar to those you use with your TV or DVD player, or choose from a variety of wall-mounted devices.
Some of today’s ceiling fans are also compatible with remote temperature sensors. You simply place the sensor in any room in your home and it automatically turns the fan on and off to control the temperature in the room. Again, don’t assume this feature is available on every fan. If it’s something you’re interested in, make sure it’s available for the fan you’re looking at.
Bathroom fans and ceiling fans
When most people think about remodeling or decorating their home, the bathroom is usually the last place they think of installing a ceiling fan. But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The bathroom is the one room in every home that’s always either too hot or too cold, and the humidity is always out of control.
A bathroom ceiling fan helps eliminate humidity: Bathrooms are typically small rooms with smaller windows and poor ventilation. With little or no ventilation all that moist, humid air lingers in the room, creating musty smells and mildew. Over time, that humidity can start seeping into wallpaper, paneling and plaster, causing sever damage to your home. A bathroom fan circulates that humid air out of the room and helps prevent damaging mold and mildew.
A ceiling fan makes your bathroom more comfortable: Does your bathroom turn into a hot, humid rain forest every time you use your hair dryer? Or worse, when you pull back the shower curtain and are you met with a full-body blast of cold air? A ceiling fan in your bathroom improves the comfort level just like it does in every other room in your home.
When choosing a ceiling fan for your bathroom, think small. No more than 3 blades. Too many blades in a small space and even at its lowest speed you’ll just be chopping the air instead of improving the circulation. Experiment with the settings but generally you’ll want to keep it on low or medium speed.
You’ll also want to make sure you choose a fan that can stand up to the extra humidity. Look for sealed or weather-resistant blades and motor housings. When in doubt, look for a fan that’s safe for outdoor use and you’ll be fine.
Even more important though – be sure to measure your ceiling height before you buy. The optimal height for your fan is 9 feet from the floor but you may not have that much clearance in your bathroom. Especially if you’re adding a light fixture to the fan. Allow at least 7 feet of clearance for safety purposes.
Bathrooms, by their very nature, tend to be damp, murky rooms that often have damp, murky underlying odors. A ventilation fan is one solution but it’s not always possible, especially in older homes. Instead, install a bathroom ceiling fan and turn your bathroom into one of the most comfortable rooms in your home.
To find out lots more about ceiling, bathroom, kitchen, attic, indoor and outdoor fans please click the links on the right hand site of this web page.