Questions to Consider Before Buying a Ceiling Fan

An informed decision will help you get the most from your modern ceiling fan.

How does a ceiling fan benefit my space?

Modern ceiling fans are more popular than ever, available in a wide range of sizes, styles, and material options. Selecting the best modern fan for a space is not always obvious, however, but begin by considering the many benefits a ceiling fan can offer.

Air Circulation & Temperature Control

Anyone who's basked in the gentle breezes of a ceiling fan knows that central air conditioning is no match for the overall air quality and—depending on how hot it is—the comfort level a ceiling fan provides. The harshness of central air, both on the skin and to the atmosphere, makes it a necessary evil on the hottest days, but ceiling fans, boasting the latest in air circulation technology, can help reach optimal temperatures inside a room or house throughout the year.  

Energy Efficiency

Modern fans use a great deal less energy than air conditioning units or central air conditioning, making them a more eco-friendly option for controlling temperatures at home or business office. And while ceiling fans may be associated primarily with the warmer months, they can, in fact, aid in temperature control year-round. During the colder months, fans facilitate a more even circulation and distribution of warm air, maximizing the effectiveness of a home's heating system.

Light Source

Contemporary ceiling fans that also illuminate a room provide twice the functionality of a single device, enhancing a room's comfort level and ambiance in one fell swoop. If you have a room that could benefit from a ceiling fan, opting for a design that also includes a light source solves two practical problems, while imbuing a space with the visual appeal that ceiling fans carry.

Indoor & Outdoor Options

Contemporary ceiling fans are ideal for both indoor outdoor spaces. Installed in exterior spaces—patios, decks, terraces—or partially open spaces—like rooms that can be fully opened to the outside—ceiling fans can generate breezes on a still day, or optimize and more evenly distribute exiting breezes throughout a space. Achieving the same cooling result via central air is both difficult and enormously wasteful.


Ceiling Fans Quick Tips

1. Determine Fan Location

Finalizing the location of your modern ceiling fan is the first step in narrowing down your fan choices: indoor fan versus outdoor fan; low ceiling vs high ceiling; large room vs small room. Once you've determined your ceiling fan's location, refining your fan selection becomes easier.

2. Measure Room Dimensions

The size of the room or space will be key to choosing the right fan diameter. You can exceed standard recommendations (see Energy Star Guidelines, below), but it's essential that you allow a minimum clearance of 18 inches around the fan to ensure maximum air movement.

3. Measure Ceiling Height

Ceiling height is key to choosing the right mounting element for your modern ceiling fan: standard ceiling downrod, or low ceiling element. With all ceiling fans, the optimal distance from finished floor to fan blades is 8 to 9 feet. At the very least, 7 feet should separate the floor from fan blades.

What are my basic ceiling fan options?

Contemporary ceiling fans fall into a few basic categories, and selecting the category best suited to your space is essential for getting the desired effect, from a functional, safety, and aesthetic standpoint. Generally, ceiling fans fall into three basic categories:  

Standard ceiling fans are the most familiar type of modern fan, and are mounted to the ceiling via a downrod (vertical rod), which is then affixed to the ceiling element. This type of fan design is the most versatile as it accommodates a standard ceiling height of 8 feet, as well as unusually high ceilings, measuring up to 20 feet tall. Standard fans can also be installed on both sloped and flat ceilings.

Hugger fans are designed specifically for lower ceilings (8 feet or less), allowing less room between ceiling and fan body. Hugger Fans have a wider body, and, as the name suggests, hugs the ceiling closely. Hugger fans can only be affixed to flat ceilings, however, and offers the only safe option for rooms or spaces with low ceilings. Most contemporary fans are usually available in both standard and hugger versions.

Outdoor fans are classified as Wet Location or Damp Location specific. A fan that's Damp Location-specified may be installed in partially open areas, like covered patios or decks, but must remain out of direct contact with water. Wet Location fans can be used in outdoor locations, like decks and pergolas, where direct contact with water is likely.  


How do I gauge ceiling fan size for my space?

Without a doubt, measuring both installation site and fan dimensions are imperative when selecting the right sized ceiling fan. Two measurements are particularly key:

Ceiling Height

The square footage of the room or space is an obvious must, but ceiling height is just as crucial, automatically eliminating some fans from contention if the ceiling is too low. The optimal distance from finished floor to fan blades is 8 to 9 feet, but a minimum of 7 feet should separate the floor from fan blades. Note that the more space resides between fan blades and ceiling, the more efficiently fan-generated air will circulate. Your ceiling height, then, is the key element in choosing the optimal fan size for your space.

Blade Diameter

A fan's blade diameter is a key factor in selecting the optimally sized fan for a room or space. The larger the blade diameter, the more efficiently the fan is able to move air. However, a minimum clearance of 18 inches around the fan is the standard recommendation, so calculating the room's dimensions, in concert with fan diameter, is a smart way to begin your ceiling fan search.