How to Select the Perfect Ceiling Fan: Buyers Guide

Ceiling Fan Buyers Guide

Our ceiling fan buyers guide will help you find the right fan for your project. Today, with so many choices available, and a wide range of prices, it's easy to be overwhelmed.

Whether you're looking for an inexpensive fan or the top of the line, we'll show you what to look for and how to determine your needs. By the time you read our ceiling fan buyers guide you'll be ready to shop with confidence. 

Ceiling Fan Buyers Guide


Determine Your Budget

When it comes to buying a ceiling fan, there's a wide range of prices that should meet every budget, and like any project, it's important to start with a realistic budget.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • How much money do you want to spend?
  • Are you replacing a ceiling fan? Remodeling? or building a new home?
  • Ceiling fans can be purchased for as little as $100 for basic models or over $300 for all the bells and whistles.
  • If you're not rushed for time, pay attention to online specials. Often you can find higher-end fans available where the manufacturer offers all the added accessories (such as remote controls) at no additional cost.

Where Will the Fan Be Installed?

Ceiling fans can be installed both inside and out. It's critical to purchase the proper fan for the location. Fans are rated based on the amount of moisture they'll come in contact with.

  • UL Dry-Rated: These fans should be installed indoors in locations such as bedrooms and offices. They're designed to operate in dry locations that are free of water, humidity, and moisture.
  • UL Damp-Rated: Want a fan for your covered porch? or bathroom? maybe your laundry room or kitchen? A UL Damp-rated ceiling fan is designed to handle moisture and humidity. It should however, never be installed where it'll come in direct contact with water.
  • UL Wet-Rated: These hardy fans are made to be outside. Equipped with all-weather blades and a moisture-resistant motor housing they can come in direct contact with rain, snow and other elements. If you're looking to add a fan to a patio or a deck that'll be exposed to the weather, you'll definitely want to purchase a UL Wet-Rated fan.

What Size Fan Should I Buy? 

The size of the room will help you select which size fan will serve you best, and the ceiling height determines which mount you'll need to install your fan. 

Fan Size

Ceiling fans generally range in size between 14 to 72-inches. To determine the proper fan size for your project, you'll need to measure the width and length of the room. Then multiply these numbers to find the square footage. For example, your room is 168-square feet if it's 12-feet wide and 14-feet long: 12 x 14 = 168-square feet.

Using the chart below, your ideal fan should have a blade span of 52 to 60 inches. This isn't a hard and fast rule, and you should take into consideration your personal preferences, but it's an excellent starting place.

Something to keep in mind, if a fan is too large for the room it will waste energy and feel overwhelming. On the other hand, if a fan is too small, it will have difficulty moving the air. 

Room Dimensions

Blade Span

80 sq. ft or less

24 to 42 inches

100 to 150 sq. ft

44 to 50 inches

150 to 300 sq. ft

52 to 60 inches

300+ sq. ft

62+ Inches or 2 fans

Determine the Type of Mount Needed

The mount is what attaches the fan to the ceiling. Which mount is used is determined by the ceiling height. 

Flush Mount: When a room's ceiling is below 8-feet, a flush mount fan should be used. Fans with a flush mount are designed so that they install flush to the ceiling. This allows the blades to maintain the required 7-foot minimum clearance from the floor. Low-profile and hugger ceiling fans generally allow the same clearance.

Standard Mount: If the ceiling height is between 8 to 10-feet, the fan is connected to the ceiling with a standard mount and a downrod. 

Extended Downrod: Ceilings that are higher than 10-feet require an extended downrod. The chart below will help you determine the length of the downrod you'll require.

Sloped: A sloped ceiling adapter can be used if your ceiling is angled over 32 degrees. 

Ceiling Height

Downrod Length

9-feet

6-inches

10-feet

12-inches

11-feet

18-inches

12-feet

24-inches

13-feet

36-inches

14-feet

48-inches

15-feet

60-inches


Choosing a Ceiling Fan

Do You Want a Light?

Ceiling fans come both with and without lights. Your choice to have a light is a personal preference, and as a general rule, you probably don't need a light if your fan will be installed in a room with plenty of light fixtures and/or good natural lighting.

Here are the 3 common light sources that are available in today's fans:

  • Halogen Bulbs: A halogen light bulb is about 15% more energy efficient than an incandescent bulb. They have a rated life span of 1,500 hours.
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps: Also known as CFL bulbs, they are up to 75% more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. They can last an average of 10,000 hours. 
  • LED Bulbs: These are by far the most energy efficient light source, as they consume  only a small amount of energy. Many LED bulbs have a rated life of up to 50,000 hours!

Selecting the Right Motor 

The most important part of your ceiling fan is the motor. The type of motor installed on your fan will play a critical role in its energy use.

All motors require lubrication in order reach their expected service life. Ceiling fans have two different styles of available motors: Sealed and unsealed. 

Sealed: Sealed motors require little to no service because the ball bearings are lubricated and sealed within the unit.

Unsealed: An unsealed motor is designed so that the ball bearings rotate within an oil bath. Unsealed motors will require the user to add oil and perform other service occasionally.

Motor Grade

In general terms, motors are graded based on the amount of time they'll be operating. 

  • Economy Grade: Also described as Moderate Grade. These are the least expensive ceiling fan motors. They're suitable for rooms with 8-foot ceilings, and should be operated less than 8 hours a day.
  • Medium Grade: These motors are designed to used up to 12 hours a day.
  • Performance Grade: A fan with a performance grade motor is by far the most powerful. They're designed to run quietly and operate for long periods of time. However, they are also the most expensive.

If you're looking for a fan to install in a warehouse, patio, porch or a garage, you may want to consider purchasing a high airflow ceiling fan. They consume less energy and circulate more air than standard fans, not to mention, mosquitoes and insects don't like them!

Motor Housing

The fan's motor is enclosed within a decorative housing which is located in the center between the blades. Different materials are used and typically the heavier the housing the better.

Die cast metal is a popular housing material. It's capable of handling long downrods by providing plenty of stability, and has minimal vibration. Not to mention, high quality finishes adhere nicely to it's surface.

DC vs AC Motors


DC Fan Motors:

  • Are typically very quiet.
  • Have a slimmer design because the motor is light and compact.
  • Uses up to 70% less energy than AC motors.
  • Stop and start faster. In addition, they have more speed settings.

AC Fan Motors:

  • Are typically less expensive than DC fans.
  • Can be controlled by a remote, pull cord or a wall switch. In most cases, DC fans must be controlled thru a remote.
  • Even though DC fans are more energy efficient, AC motors hold up nicely.

ENERGY STAR-Rated Ceiling Fans

Purchasing an ENERGY STAR rated ceiling fan means that it's met a strict set of requirements. Here's a partial list:

  • The motor must have a minimum 30-year warranty.
  • The fan's components must have a minimum 1-year warranty.
  • The lights must use 60% less energy than non-ENERGY STAR fans.
  • The fan must use 15 to 20% less energy than non-ENERGY STAR fans.
  • In addition, there are also rigid airflow and efficiency standards that must be met for each speed.

Ceiling Fan with Light

Fan Controller

How do you want to control your fan? Ceiling fans of the past could only be turned on and off by pulling a chain, but today, you can control your fan without even leaving your bed! Here are a few of the options:

  • Pull Chain: Many people prefer a simple pull chain to operate their ceiling fan. A pull chain is inexpensive and reliable, and are a great option for spaces such as guest rooms.
  • Wall Switch: Using a wall switch to control your fan is a popular choice, and can be configured in a variety of ways. It can be set up to simply turn the fan off and on, or it can be installed to change the fan speed and operate the light. 
  • Remote Control: Many fans are designed to operate with a remote control, making them incredibly convenient.

How to Maximize Air Circulation

When your ceiling fan is installed properly you'll be able to maximize the room's air circulation. Doing so can give the effect that the room is as much as 4-degrees cooler than the thermostat setting, making you feel more comfortable on a warm summer day, with the added benefit of reducing your utility expenses.

When you install your fan, keep the following in mind to get the best air circulation within a room:

  • The room's ceiling should be at least 8-feet high
  • The fan's blades should be at least 7-feet from the floor
  • The fan's blades should be 10 to 12-inches from the ceiling
  • The fan's blades should be at least 18-inches from the wall

As a general rule, the larger the ceiling fan, the more cooling affect it'll have in the room. Fans with larger blades have the advantage of being able to run at a slower setting  and still effectively move the air. 

However, small blade fans must run at higher speeds to create the necessary air flow. This can be disruptive in rooms, such as offices, where there are papers and other light weight items lying about.

Blade Rotation


You might be surprised to learn that the direction the blade's rotate plays a big difference in the fan's effectiveness. During the summer's heat, the goal is to add a cooling effect to the room, yet in the winter we want the opposite.

Summer Rotation - The blades should turn counter clockwise during the summer months, as this will push the air downwards. If you feel air movement when you're standing directly under your fan, the blades are rotating correctly.

Winter Rotation - During the winter months the fan's blades should be rotating clockwise so that the air is pulled towards the ceiling. When a fan is used in the winter, it can reduce your heating expenses by as much as 20%!


Do Ceiling Fans Really Work?

Ceiling fans can certainly add to a room's ambience, but do they really work? It might surprise you to know that they can improve the efficiency of your air conditioner without actually cooling the room! 

We feel cooler because the air movement helps evaporate the perspiration on our skin and whisk away the heat near our body. Think of it in terms of a wind-chill effect.

In most cases, the Air Conditioner thermostat can be set at least 4 degrees higher when a ceiling fan is being used without a noticeable difference in your comfort level. 

Although, it may feel as though a fan is actually dropping a room's temperature, in actuality, it may in fact be slightly raising the temperature due to the electric motor.

In terms of cooling, a fan tends to lose it's effectiveness in high humidity environments and/or when the room temperature closely matches our body's temperature.