Buying Guide

How to Choose the Best Ceiling Fan

Location
Fan installed on a very high ceiling.

When choosing a new ceiling fan, it’s important to think about where you plan to hang it. Will this fan be installed in a living room or are you searching for a new way to cool off things on your patio? 


Wet/damp ratings indicate whether a ceiling fan is recommended for indoor or outdoor purposes. If you plan to hang a ceiling fan inside a damp area, such as the bathroom or outdoors, you will need to find one that meets UL’s wet/damp rating, meaning it can withstand rain, snow and excessive moisture. Fans that meet this rating will have features like rust-resistant housing, stainless steel hardware and all-weather blades. 


If your ceiling is sloped, it may be necessary to buy an extra downrod or a separate sloped-ceiling mounting kit. 


Tip: All outdoor fans can be used indoors but all indoor fans cannot be used outdoors. 

Ceiling Fan Size and Mounting Types
A chart explains ceiling height and downrod length.

Because the ceiling fan’s main purpose is to circulate air and regulate the temperature in a room, it’s important that you select the right size. 


Measure the room before you purchase your ceiling fan to ensure you get the size that will be most effective for the space. Measure from floor to ceiling to determine mount type (flush, downrod, standard) for the intended location.


When looking for the best fan for large rooms, a good rule to follow is for any room larger than 300 sq. ft., use a 52-inch or larger fan. For any room larger than this, consider using two fans to move air around the room. 


For guest bedrooms and bathrooms, small ceiling fans work well whereas larger spaces, like a great room, will benefit the most from large ceiling fans


Recommended fan width based on the length of the longest wall in your room: 


  • Length of longest wall is less than 12 feet, your fan width should be 36 inches or less
  • Length of longest wall is 12 to 15 feet, your fan width should be 40 to 48 inches
  • Length of longest wall is more than 15 feet, your fan width should be 52 inches or more. 


Mounting types:

  • When choosing your fan, you will come across the terms “downrod” and “flush.” Pay close attention to your ceiling height so you can determine which mounting option you need. 
  • Ideally, your ceiling fan should height (from floor to blade) should be 8 feet. Fans mounted too close to the ceiling will trap or move less air around the space. 


Flush mount: Mounted to the ceiling, this option is ideal for rooms with low ceilings. 


Downrod mount: The best ceiling fans for living rooms or rooms with ceilings higher than 8 feet typically include a downrod. Very high ceilings may need a longer downrod, so check the downrod size prior to purchasing your fan. 


If you have a tall, vaulted or sloped ceiling, hang your ceiling fan from a downrod to lower it to the desired 8 or 9 feet from the floor. 


Tip: When possible, hang the fan in the middle of the room and allow at least 18 inches between fan blades and the walls. 

Ceiling Fan Styles
A fan installed in a coastal style home.

Blades are offered in a variety of finishes, including natural, white, oak, black and more. Some blades will offer a reversible finish. 


Light shades are usually glass, either frosted or not. Ceiling fans themselves also come in a variety of finishes, and it’s best to try to match the tone to the other finishes in your room/home. 


If your cabinet knobs are oil-rubbed bronze, choose a fan with a complementary finish. If possible, try to match your ceiling fan style and finish to your home’s decor (flooring, paint and furniture colors and style). For example, a modern-style fan with a silver motor finish or black fan blades may look out of place in a home with cottage style.


Here are some tips finding the best ceiling fan to match your home’s decor:


Coastal: Fans with natural wood blades and oil-rubbed bronze finishes work well. Tropical-inspired ceiling fans featuring bamboo, rattan blades and leaf-inspired designs complement beach homes and cottage-style houses. 


Modern: A contemporary style ceiling fan with clean lines and metallic finishes are ideal for this style home. Look for fans with a brushed nickel, matte black or chrome finish, as well as fans with a sleek blade design that are right at home in a loft, industrial or mid-century modern space. 


Cottage: Classic white ceiling fans capture cottage style best. If this is the style of your home, look for a ceiling fan that's all-white, including hardware, or features nickel hardware. 


Classic: Dark wood finishes, like oak or walnut paired with antique bronze or polished pewter, and a timeless blade design will blend in perfectly with a traditional-style home. 


Rustic: Natural woods, inspired from the great outdoors, mixed with nickel or bronze hardware complement this home decor style. Look for a ceiling fan that uses Edison-style bulbs for farmhouse appeal. 

Lights
A variety of fans featuring different lighting options.

The majority of ceiling fans come with a light kit; however, if you are hanging the fan in an area with good natural lighting or already-installed lighting, buying ceiling fans without lights is perfectly fine. If you do choose a ceiling fan with lights, you will need to decide between these types of lighting output. 


LED: Consumes the least amount of energy; have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours. 


Fluorescent: Uses less energy than incandescent bulbs, has an average life span of 10,000 hours. 


Halogen: These bulbs will use the most amount of energy (still less than an incandescent bulb); has an average life span of 1,500 hours. 


Tip: Remember to match your bulb style to you home decor, if you can. 

Airflow and Efficiency
An outdoor fan installed on a covered patio.

A ceiling fan’s motor determines its efficiency and airflow. Fans either come with a DC motor or an AC motor. DC motors tend to produce less heat and consume less energy than heavier AC motors. 


High airflow fans are perfect for outdoor spaces or garages because they will circulate more air and can help keep away insects and pests. 

If energy-efficiency is at the top of your must-have list, look for an Energy Star rated fan. These certified ceiling fans use up to 20 percent less energy. Energy Star-certified ceiling fans can help reduce your heating and cooling costs.


It’s important to note that dirty fan blades will not move air as efficiently as clean blades, so be sure to dust your ceiling fans often. 


Tip: In the summer, run your fan counterclockwise for a cool breeze. In the winter, run your fan clockwise to push down warm air circulating near the ceiling to better distribute the heat throughout the room. 

Control Options
A fan with two pull chains.

How you control your ceiling fan's speed and lighting depends on the accessories included.

 

Pull chain: The majority of standard ceiling fans will include pull chain controls that allow you to adjust fan speed and lighting. This easy-to-reach control is ideal for areas with low ceilings or in rooms that aren’t used often. 


Remote control: The best ceiling fans for high ceilings will likely include a remote control. Handheld and convenient, ceiling fan remotes are lightweight and portable, allowing the fan to be operated within a 30 to 45-foot range. Ideal for master bedrooms and living rooms. 


Wall control: This option allows you to control the fan by pressing a button. A standard wall control has a range of about 40 feet. Ideal for living rooms, playrooms and kitchens. 

 
 

Ceiling Fan Installation Tips
  • To replace an old fan, remove it and use the existing wiring. For a new fan, consult an electrician and adhere to local building codes.
  • If your ceiling fan breaks, check to see if you can simply repair it using ceiling fan parts instead of buying an entirely new fan.
  • Ceiling fans must be hung from a junction box labeled “suitable for fan support.” These are stronger than light fixture support boxes and can carry the weight of a fan as well as an attached light kit.
  • To ensure maximum comfort and energy efficiency, select a ceiling fan with an automatic temperature adjustment feature.
  • When shopping for bedroom ceiling fans, check to see how quiet the fan is to ensure that it will not disturb your sleep.
  • The Home Depot offers ceiling fan installation if you’re unsure about taking on this project.