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Advice + Inspiration

How to Choose A Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans help you save energy year-round and can be used both indoors and out. From picking the proper fan size to installing it on a sloped ceiling, we help you find the one that's right for your space.

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Q: Where can ceiling fans be used?

A: Ceiling fans can be used anywhere in your home that you like to keep air moving. They can also be used outdoors for patios, pergolas, and breezeways, as long as you have a damp or wet-location-approved fan.

Q: When can I use my ceiling fan?

A: Fans are often associated with summer and warm-weather use, but they are just as beneficial during the winter and cooler months. In summer, the blades rotate in a counter-clockwise direction and create a cool breeze. In essence, it creates a wind-chill effect that allows you to lower air-conditioning costs and use up to 40% less energy. During the winter, set the fan to low and rotate blades in clockwise motion. This creates an updraft, forcing the warmer air down and away from the ceiling, thus lowering heating costs.

Q: What is the right fan size for my room?

A: Knowing your room's square footage will help you determine the proper size. A fan that's too small for a room might not offer enough air and one that's too large could create excessive air movement. A fan's diameter (blade span) is the most important consideration:

Room Size


Fan Size

Up to 100 sq. ft


36" - 48"

Up to 400 sq. ft


50" - 54"

Over 400 sq. ft


56" plus or two smaller fans

In addition to choosing the proper fan size, make sure to have 18" to 24" of clearance on all sides of the fan.

Q: How do I determine the hanging height of the fan?

A: The bottom of the fan should be at least 7 feet off the floor, and 8 to 9 feet will allow for optimal circulation. "Hugger" fans like the Velo are made especially for lower-ceiling heights because they are installed flush with the ceiling. For higher ceilings, you can use fans with downrods, such as the Ball Ceiling Fan, to achieve the right height. Downrods range from 3 to 72 inches in length. The more space between the ceiling and the blades the better than air flow and circulation, so aim for at least 12 inches.

Velo Hugger Ceiling Fan
Velo Hugger Ceiling Fan

Q: Can I install a ceiling fan if I have a sloped ceiling?

A: Aside from hugger fans, most fan canopies (the part that attaches to the ceiling and covers the junction box) can accommodate some degree of slope-usually up to 30 degrees. For steeper slopes, manufacturers offer sloped-ceiling adaptors.

Q: Do I need a special ceiling or junction box to mount my fan?

A: Yes, ceiling fans need to be mounted to junction boxes marked "For Use With Ceiling Fans"; because fans can weight up to 50 pounds and are in motion, these help provide proper support. The boxes should be anchored to a ceiling joist, and installation by a licensed electrician is advisable.

Designer Stories Renato Fabbian

Q: Can the fan also light my room?

A: Most fans come with light kits and provide overhead ambient illumination, which may need to be supplemented with other fixtures. Fans can also be ordered without lights if preferred.

Q: How do I control the fan?

A: Most fans include a wall and or handheld control. Depending on the type of fan, these may control fan speed, multiple fans, or fan and light control.

Concept I Wet 52 Inch Fan
Concept I Wet 52 Inch Fan

Q: Can I use a ceiling fan outdoors?

A: Yes, as long as it is a damp- or wet-location-approved fan. Damp-location fans can be used under covered porches and patios where they will not come into direct contact with the elements. The finishes and blades will weather over Concept I Wet 52 Inch Fan can be used in locations more susceptible to water contact. These feature water- and weather-resistant motor housings and blades, and some are equipped with waterproof light kits to provide additional lighting outdoors.

Q: What is CFM and how is it used?

A: CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and it measures a fan's airflow efficiency. CFM measurements are taken when a fan is on high speed, then that number is divided by the watts used. The higher the number the more efficient the fan. 75 cfm/w is the minimum to be considered efficient, according to Energy Star requirements.

Q: What is a DC Motor Fan and what are the benefits?

A: DC Motors are new energy-saving, yet more powerful fan motors. They generate additional torque while consuming less than 70% of the power of a typical ceiling fan. Other benefits include a virtually silent operation and much smaller motors that result in smaller, lighter fans.

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