How To: Choose a Ceiling Fan
With so many options available on the market today, what factors should you consider when choosing a new ceiling fan? Continue reading for our top tips on making the right choice for your needs and budget.
Choosing a ceiling fan is enough to make any homeowner’s head hurt. Here are my suggestions for simplifying this seemingly complicated decision.
Get the Height Right
If you’re planning the installation for a low-ceilinged room, insist on a flush-mount model (also called a “ceiling hugger”) to ensure adequate head clearance.
For average-height ceilings, using the manufacturer-supplied hanging rod should do the trick. For higher ceilings, an extension rod will lower the fan to optimal position within the room, about eight or nine feet off the floor.
Available in lengths from 12 to 72 inches, extension rods are for sale online and at home centers (view example on Amazon). To make sure its finish matches that of the fan, source the rod from the same company you buy the fan from.
Size Your Fan to the Room
Blade spans range from 24 to 80 inches. The American Lighting Association suggests the following guidelines:
Room Size Fan Size
Up to 75 sq. ft. 36 inches or smaller
75 to 144 sq. ft. 36 to 42 inches
144 to 225 sq. ft. 44 to 50 inches
225 to 400 sq. ft. 50 to 54 inches
For very large rooms with high ceilings, fans with 60- to 80-inch blade spans are available. Large-sized fans are as much about scale as function in meeting the requirements of a large space.
Place Your Fan Properly
Ceiling fans don’t actually lower room temperatures; they cool by creating a breeze. Install them in places where you spend the most time. Good spots are over the bed or above family-room or kitchen seating.
Consider Control Options
Do you want to control the fan from a wall switch, a remote, or a good old-fashioned pull chain? You may not have a choice. Mode of operation depends on the fan that you choose. Tastes vary, but there is certainly something to be said for the convenience of a remote that enables you to change fan speed (or ceiling-fan light fixture settings) effortlessly.
Note: It’s a good idea to keep the ceiling fan on a separate circuit from lighting. If both are on the same circuit, you won’t be able to run your fan when the lights are off (especially important in the bedroom).
The universe of ceiling fans is amazingly big! Don’t settle for the limited selection to be found in brick-and-mortar stores, especially if you need a fan with small blades or a model suited for cathedral or vaulted ceilings.
My favorite website for ceiling fans is Hansen Wholesale. Think of it as a sort of Consumer Reports. For each product it sells, Hansen offers information on motor quality, CFM (air movement measured in cubic feet per minute) output, energy efficiency and other pertinent data. The ratings graphs show the average rating in each category, so you know immediately how the fan you’re considering stacks up. Hansen also includes an excellent ceiling-fan size calculator.
While you’re at it, check out Bob Vila’s ceiling fan buying guide, which includes details on our top-favorite models available today.