What Are the Best Ceiling Fans for Your Home? The Ultimate Guide

The best ceiling fans will keep a room cool and be a budget-friendly stand-in for pricey air conditioning. They look nice, too! And while they don’t actually lower the temperature or remove humidity from a space, as air conditioning does, ceiling fans can make a substantial difference in warmer climates, thanks to something called the wind-chill effect. This is when your hair follicles register air movement, which in turn makes you feel colder. The increased airflow also helps to evaporate sweat, another cooling sensation.

But choosing the best ceiling fan for your home can be a daunting task, especially with so many options out there. You want to buy something reliable that still fits perfectly into your budget. You need the right length of downrod (the pole that connects the fan to the ceiling). You’ll probably want a remote control to control blade speed and the light kit. You’ll definitely want a light kit and lightbulbs that go with your decor. Before you head to the hardware or decor store, take a look at this guide on ceiling fans, with tidbits to help make buying one a whole lot smoother.

What makes one ceiling fan more expensive than another?

You can choose a modern ceiling fan with one blade or shell out close to $1,000 for a tricked-out, 10-blade, three-speed or four-speed model. An ultra powerful, expensive ceiling fan brand may have a better-looking lighting kit, perhaps a brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze finish, and nicer pull chain and remote control. It can certainly go better with your decor. But according to Consumer Reports, spending big bucks doesn’t guarantee a better ceiling fan—just a more elaborate design. What really matters is how well the motor and fan are constructed—think wobble-free, for example, and high consumer ratings.

For example, a WhisperWind Motor promises powerful air movement with quiet performance. Some fans offer a lifetime motor warranty or full lifetime warranty. If you intend to install an outdoor ceiling fan, even in a protected porch area, make sure it is wet-rated or damp-rated so it can be used safely.

Try to buy a fan with high consumer and Energy Star ratings, for a product you’ll be happy with for years.

Know your ceiling fan’s CFM

The airflow produced by ceiling fans is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM, and should be noted on the manufacturer’s website. While 4,000 CFM is the average airflow for a ceiling fan, the higher the CFM, the more airflow and the cooler you’ll be, says Cristhian Perez, a certified professional inspector with Florida’s Home Check Inspections.

A larger room will require a higher CFM. A lower CFM should be adequate or even preferable in a small room.

All about ceiling fan blades

When deciding on the number of blades you need, keep this rule of thumb in mind: The more blades a ceiling fan has, the more weight there is pulling on the motor.

“This pulling results in a ceiling fan that spins slower, but it’s also quieter than a two- or three-blade fan,” says Kelly Phillips of Advancedceilingsystems.com, a source for ceiling fan information.

Large blades with texture also make more noise than smooth blades.

Here’s what else to keep in mind in the blade numbers game:

Number of blades: Since fewer blades mean a lighter ceiling fan, one with two or three blades allows the motor to move at a high speed and create air movement with greater force. “Fewer blades may be perfect for those who need stronger airflow, despite the increased noise,” says Phillips. This makes three-blade fans perfect for spaces with high ceilings, or for an outdoor ceiling fan, where noise is less of an issue.

Four-plus blades: The most common indoor fan you’ll find on home ceilings is a standard four- or five-blade fan, says Phillips. These fans move at slower speeds than their three-blade counterparts, which results in less noise and still sufficient CFM. For rooms with low ceilings, you might prefer more blades and a shorter downrod. “They do a great job at circulating air in a living room or bedroom,” says Phillips.

Best ceiling fan sizes for each room

No matter which style you choose, the most important thing is to choose a ceiling fan and light kit that fit the ceiling in the room you install it in. Here’s the size of ceiling fan that will work best for the various ceilings in your home.

29- to 36-inch fan: A smaller ceiling fan is great for bathrooms, laundry rooms, breakfast nooks, and other rooms with fewer square footage.

42- to 48-inch fan: This slightly larger ceiling fan is perfect for average-size spaces like bedrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms.

52- to 56-inch fan: This larger size creates airflow in rooms with more square footage—think a living room or master bedroom.

60-inch fan: This extra large size will create sufficient airflow, or CFM, in great rooms or other large rooms. You might also want more than one remote control in a large room.

You may prefer a low-profile indoor ceiling fan with a shorter downrod, or a flush-mount fan, for a room with low ceilings. For rooms with a high ceiling, you may want a longer downrod. Using the right length downrod is important for optimum airflow and safety.

A longer pull chain may come in handy in a high-ceilinged room.

Light kits on ceiling fans

You’ll also want to consider the best light kit for your room, especially if it will be the primary source of light in the room. Many fans come with a three-light kit, which provides plenty of light. On the other hand, if head space is limited or the room has other light fixtures, you may want to skip the light kit altogether.

You can generally control the lighting with the remote control, wall control, or pull chain.

Look for energy efficiency

The combination of a ceiling fan and your existing air conditioner can help you save up to 40% on cooling costs, according to Richard Ciresi, president of Aire Serv, a heating and air-conditioning company in Louisville, KY. Keep the savings on track when searching for a new fan by considering how much energy the fan will use for the CFM it puts out. For instance, more blades will increase the amount of drag, causing the fan to use more energy.

“Look for Energy Star–rated products, which means the fan creates airflow 20% more efficiently than standard models, to keep energy costs to a minimum,” says Perez.

Energy efficiency also includes choosing a light fixture and lightbulbs appropriate for your room.

Buy a reversible motor fan

If you aren’t getting the desired cooling effect from your current ceiling fan, you may think the fan isn’t producing enough wind. “But most people don’t realize that the direction your ceiling fan rotates affects its cooling capabilities,” says Ciresi. To keep things at an optimum chill, buy a fan with reversible blades that can change directions via a remote control or wall control, or with an easy-to-reach switch on the motor housing.

In the summer, use the remote control to set the fan blades to move in a counterclockwise direction. This will create airflow from the ceiling down to the floor, producing that wind-chill effect.

To keep things cozy in winter, simply adjust the blades in a clockwise rotation with your remote control, and operate the ceiling fan at a lower speed. This gently pulls cold air upward to the ceiling. The airflow pushes warm air near the ceiling back down.

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