There’s nothing cooler than staying cool in the summer! You may think that a ceiling fan is just a fixture like any other, but finding the right one can be deceptively tricky. So today, let’s talk about finding the perfect ceiling fan for your home.
The first step to choosing a suitable fan is sizing up the room where you plan to install it. This is a crucial step because if you choose a fan that’s too small, it won’t be as effective at circulating air around the room.
So how exactly do you find the measurement of a fan? Well, if the retailer doesn’t already list the dimensions, it’s simple to find out for yourself. You’re looking for the diameter of its blade sweep, which is just a fancy way of describing the measurement from the end tip of one blade to the end tip of the one directly across from it. This works great if the fan in question has an equal number of blades, but if the number is odd, measure from the blade tip to the center of the fan, then double it to get the diameter of the blade sweep.
And on the subject of blades… does the number really matter? As a general rule, fans with fewer blades are quieter, faster, and can move more air than fans with more. Still, fans with 4-5 blades are designed for home use, achieving an ideal balance between air-circulated and tolerable ambient noise. So really, does the number matter? The answer: not as much as the shape and pitch of the blade.
Okay, great! Now that we have the measurement, it’s time to assess whether the fan is the right size for your room. You’ll also need to know the dimensions of the room, of course. To do this, simply multiply the length by the width to get the square footage of the space.
Selecting a Size
Delmar Fans’ website has an excellent comprehensive guide to choosing the right size for your space, but here’s a quick summary of the sizing suggestions:
- Rooms under 144 sqft. (like bathrooms, mudrooms, screen porches): Fans under 42 inches, recommended 1,000-3,000 CFM
- Rooms between 144-225 sqft. (dining room, kitchen, home office): Fans between 44-50 inches, recommended 1,600-4,500 CFM
- Rooms between 225-400 sqft. (master bedrooms, small garage, family room/living room, rec room): Fans over 50 inches, recommended 2,300-6,500 CFM
- Rooms over 400 sqft. (great rooms, open floor plan homes, basements): Fans over 62 inches, recommended 5,500-13,500 CFM
For safety, a fan should always have between 18 and 24 inches of clearance on all sides. You’ll also have to meet certain building codes when installing your fan unit: this means the bottom of the fan should be no less than 7 feet off the ground, but 8-9 feet is better for optimal air circulation.
You’ll also need to leave space between the top of the fan and the ceiling, again to help maximize airflow. Twelve inches between the fan and the ceiling is ideal in a room with low to average ceilings, but in a room with high ceilings, you have a lot more space to play with. In this case, you’ll probably want to use downrods to suspend the fan from the canopy at the height of your choosing. Downrods can range in length from three to 72 inches and can also be used to install fans on sloped ceilings.
When selecting a downrod, YT Lighting suggests a simple rule of thumb: for a room with a 9-foot ceiling, choose a fan with a 6-inch downrod. For any room taller than nine feet, add an extra six inches of downrod per foot.
Keep It Cool
What exactly is the ‘CFM’ that we keep mentioning? CFM stands for cubic feet per meter, and it describes the amount of space a fan fixture can cool effectively. While blade diameter does play a role in choosing the right fan, it’s only one part of the equation. Basically, the diameter helps you determine the appropriate fan size for your room, but the CFM tells you how effectively a fan will cool your room. In addition to fan size, CFM can also be affected by the motor type and blade shape. In short, the CFM listed on the product is a better indicator of cooling ability than the size of the fan or the number of blades.
If you’re willing to pay a premium upfront for an Energy Star-approved fan, you can save on energy bills down the line while making an eco-conscious choice. Plus, Energy Star products also come with a lengthy motor warranty and a one-year component warranty. Bonus!
It’s a bit surprising that there’s so much to know about ceiling fans! Still, with this ceiling fan savvy under your belt, you’ll be better equipped to find the perfect one for your home.
Brittany received her interior design degree in 2010 and recently earned her kitchen and bathroom certifications. She sees her job as much more than just picking out pretty colors and materials – it also involves exact measurements, plenty of planning, and determining how to have a space accurately reflect the lifestyle of its occupants.