1. Home

Discuss in my forum

Choosing A Ceiling Fan

How to choose the proper size and style for your home.


Choosing a ceiling fan is easier and harder than ever before.  There are fans that will match or fit into just about any architectural style home that you may have.  That makes it harder to decide which one to choose and easier to find the exact one to personalize your home. 

Ceiling Fan Prices Vs. Quality

There are a variety of price ranges for ceiling fans ranging from the inexpensive, lesser quality fans to the high quality fans that run the most smoothly and quietly.  They run more quietly because they are more balanced, thanks to sealed ball bearings and closer magnetic drive posts in the motorized section of the fan.  You see, the farther apart the magnetic drive posts are, the choppier the fan force is.  This causes the on-again, off-again hum as the fan runs.   When the posts are closely mounted, the fan force is almost constant.  This allows for a quiet, smooth-running fan.  When you consider how long these ceiling fans last, the better, more expensive model often makes good sense.

Ceiling Fan Mounting Styles

Ceiling fans come in three mounting styles: flush mount, universal/standard mount, and those for an angled ceiling mount.  Flush mount ceiling fans are designed to attach in close proximity to the ceiling and are used in rooms with low ceilings.  These fans have no downrods connected to them.  Universal-/standard-mount fans employ a downrod that extends the fan down to an optimal height.  Angled ceiling fans are used for those angled ceilings, like those in “A”-framed homes and pitched ceiling homes.   Often, long downrods are needed in homes with ceilings greater than 10 feet.  The optimal ceiling height is 7 to 10 feet.  In fact, the National Electrical Code requires that fan blades be at least 7 feet above the floor.  This is the minimum safe distance for ceiling fan operation.  Also, don’t forget that fan blades must be at least 18 inches away from sloping ceilings and any wall.  You don’t want the blades bouncing off of ceilings or walls!  That’s why we use downrods to distance the fan blades from the ceiling.

Ceiling Fan Blade Lengths

Ceiling fans come with a variety of fan blade lengths.  The overall span can range from a couple of feet to six feet.  This span doesn’t necessarily increase the amount of air moved, although it helps.  In fact, the amount of air moved is attributed rather to the angle of the blades, called pitch.  The more expensive ceiling fans employ a fan blade pitch of 12 to 14 degrees.  They require less speed to push the same amount of air that a less expensive fan would at a higher speed.

Ceiling Fan Speeds and Lights

Ceiling fans may have the fan only option or a fan/light combination.  The combination varieties usually employ two pull strings, one for the light and another for the fan speed.  Without a switch in the room, these pull chains will turn the light on and off and turn the fan on and off, as well as set the fan speed.  In combination with wall switches, the light can be set to on and the fan speed can be set so that you’ll only have to turn the wall switches on to control each.  Then again, if you want an easier solution, there is also a remote controlled ceiling fan that is controlled from a controller you can use from anywhere in the room.

Ceiling Fan Ratings

Ceiling fan sizes should be based on either cubic feet per minute (CFM) or by considering the room size to choose the ceiling fan blade span.  In a perfect world, we’d like to see the fan centered in the room or positioned over the area of the room where the general public will be located for maximum effectiveness.  The following chart should be beneficial in selecting a ceiling fan size using this method.

A ceiling fan blade span of 32-36 inches will handle a room size of up to 100 square feet. A ceiling fan blade span of 42-44 inches will handle a room size of 101-144 square feet. A ceiling fan blade span of 48 inches will handle a room size of 145-225 square feet. A ceiling fan blade span of 50-52 inches will handle a room size of 226-400 square feet. A ceiling fan blade span of 54-60 inches will handle a room size of 400 square feet and over.

Ceiling Fan Approved Boxes

Before installing a ceiling fan, you’ll need to install the appropriate ceiling fan box.  These boxes are fan-rated for weight, along with secure bracing because fans wobble and vibrate.  These ceiling fan boxes must be securely fastened to framing and must be able to support 50 pounds or more, depending on the weight of the fan.  Please take time to size according to the fan’s weight.  These boxes can be mounted in an exposed ceiling opening or there are specially designed boxes that can be installed in existing ceilings called a remodel bar.  The bars slide out from either or both sides of the box and press into the joists in the ceiling.  They sit just above the drywall ceiling and are turned to extend the bars outward towards the ceiling joists until they are tight.  These really work and I should know.  To test their strength, I actually hung from one and I’m a few pounds over 50 for sure! 

Need Help Choosing A Ceiling Fan?

In overview, take your time, examine your ceiling fan needs, look over the many possibilities, and select the appropriate ceiling fan for your home. Don’t be afraid to ask an expert. They will help you choose the fan of your needs and recommend the accessories needed to complete the job. So the question is, are you ready to choose a ceiling fan?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.