How to size a Ceiling Fan

How to size a Ceiling Fan

zelle duda

A ceiling fan’s general purpose is to help cool you down, but there’s a lot more to a fan than meets the eye — from the different motor types to using your voice to control your fan. Newer fans come in many styles and finishes and have improved motors that push air more efficiently than ever.

Types of Ceiling Fans

STANDARD CEILING FANS

These are ideal and most suitable for a gentle breeze in the home. Available in a variety of motor and blade finishes to fit your rooms decor, these types of fans have the ability to complement your room while adding a cool breeze.

FLUSH MOUNT CEILING FANS

Also known as low profile fans, these are ideal to use if your room has a low ceiling heigh of 8 feet or less. Why? Because these are the fans that will not hang with a down-rod. Rather, they sit directly onto the ceiling to help keep the distance from your ceiling to the ground as large as possible within that space. Flush Mount (Low Profile) ceiling fans are placed at just the right height of 7 feet above the floor (from blade to floor).

DUAL MOTOR FAN

For a decorative, yet functional, option, cool down the room with a dual motor fan. Perfect for the outdoor patios, dual motor fans have a unique cage-like structure that contain two individual and adjustable fans.

OUTDOOR CEILING FAN

Both damp and wet rated, outdoor ceiling fans are designed with weather in mind. Created with materials that are able to withstand certain weather conditions, including high percentages of humidity and moisture, water-resistant motors and blades are the way to go. This allows you to invest in a beautiful fan knowing it is made to prevent both rust and corrosion.

Light Kits

It is important to know that not all fans include a light kit (meaning, not all fans have a light in the center). While most ceiling fans have an integrated light kit that faces downwards, you are also able to get fans that face upwards or both. Most of these integrated light kits are unobtrusive and advancements in LED technology has changed the size and shape of these light kits for the better.

Think about visits to your grandmother's home, or even your own home back in the day. The fan itself had a bowl-like glass structure that needed to be removed for the fan's lightbulb to be replaced. Now, rather than having that bowl, think of it being replaced with a flat plate. Some fans have created this simple, flat, and modern look. But if you love the traditional fan look, they still make them as well with newer advancements included.

A good amount of light (1300 lumens) at a good color (3000K) is common among these light kits.

Which size is ideal for your space?

Proportions are essential to choosing the right ceiling fan for your space.

Ceiling fans range from as little as 18" (think mini fan) to the large, huge 72" and up fans. A 72" fan in a child's bedroom would blow the carpet around, while an 18" in your living room would essentially feel like its off all the time; this is why proportions are just as important as your ideal style.


FAN SIZE

When you see a ceiling fan that measures 55", this is going to be the diameter of the fan. When your fan is on, and the blades are sweeping in a circular motion, this is the measured blade span (or blade sweep).

CEILING HEIGHT IN THE ROOM

When you see a ceiling fan that measures 55", this is going to be the diameter of the fan. When your fan is on, and the blades are sweeping in a circular motion, this is the measured blade span (or blade sweep).

 Room Size Room Type Recommended Blade Sweep
90 sq. ft. or less

Small bedroom
Office
Galley Kitchen
Outdoor applications

15" to 42"
90 - 100 sq. ft.

Over-the-kitchen table
Large, Walk-in Closet
Small, Screened-in Porch
Laundry Room
Outdoor applications

44 to 48"
100 - 150 sq. ft.

Bedroom
Larger Kitchen
Formal Dining Room
Outdoor applications

50 to 54"
150+ sq. ft.

Great room
Master Suite
Large Outdoor Patio
Outdoor applications

56 to 96"
or use multiple, smaller fans

A 15 to 42 inch blade sweep is ideal for small rooms like a bedroom or office. A larger blade sweep of 44 to 48 inches works well for an area like over the kitchen table. For an even larger room such as the bedroom or large kitchen, look for a fan that measures 50 to 54 inches. An even larger room over 150 square feet requires a fan between 56 to 96 inches or you may want to consider installing more than one fan. Be sure to place your fan at least 12 inches from the blade tip to the wall – this also includes sloped ceilings.

CEILING HEIGHT + CHOOSING A DOWNROD

The next step is to identify the length of a downrod. Ceilings less than 8 feet in height will not need one and you should consider a flush-mount ceiling fan instead. Downrods are used for high ceilings to lower the fan closer to the floor so you can feel more airflow from the fan. See the chart below to choose the appropriate length for your room:

 Ceiling Height Downrod Length
8 ft.

No downrod
Use a flush mount ceiling fan or floor fan

9 ft.

6"

10 ft.

12"

11 ft.

18"

12 ft.

24"

13 ft.

36"

14 ft.

48"

15 ft.

60"

AC VS. DC MOTORS

AC motors (Alternating Current) use electricity to produce a rotating magnetic field that in turn spins the rotor. This type of motor is more affordable and has been around for a long time, which provides more design and style options to choose from. AC Motors are quiet, reliable, and many are fans are already equipped with them. DC motors (Direct Current) convert electrical energy to mechanical energy, that in turn uses up to 70% less electricity. These motors are light in weight, whisper-quiet, and have a longer motor life due to its advancements in efficiency.

BLADE PITCH + CFM

Blade pitch is the angle (in degrees) of a ceiling fan's blade tilt. The higher the angle, the more the motor works to push air when the fan is in motion. In order to feel the optimal amount of airflow (measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute)), look for a ceiling fan that has a blade pitch between 12-15 degrees. CFM is how much air is ultimately being blown by the fan itself; it's airflow. Similarly to how the blade pitch is measured, the higher the CFM, the more the fan will push the air. If you love to have a cold bedroom at night, you'll want to find the highest CFM and blade pitch within your allotted fan size options and budget.

Fans with less than 10 degrees blade pitch go through the air without moving much of the air at all. These fans will be on without truly feeling like they're on, or even working at all. Note: Fans have a button to adjust your motor from spinning counter clock wise (for cool air to be blown down, summer months) to spinning clock wise (for air to be blown up and out, winter months); occasionally, this switch is on the wrong setting. Adjusting it may solve your lack-of-wind problems.

A ceiling fan with a flat pitch has an angle of 10-12 degrees, which doesn't require a large motor to reach high speeds. An angle of 14 to 15 degrees is considered a steep pitch, requiring a more powerful motor to reach the same speeds. The pitch of the blades and the power of the motor need to complement each other in order to prevent the fan from burning out as it moves less air with more power.

Note: A common misconception is that a 5 blade fan will generate more airflow than a 3 blade fan. This is false and there is not a noticeable difference. Air placement (CFM) depends on the blade pitch (angle of the blade) and the speed the fan rotates at. The number of blades isn't the sold factor in air placement (CFM).

CONTROLLING A CEILING FAN

The options for controlling a ceiling fan's speed, direction, and to turn it on/off are plentiful. While there is the most commonly known handheld remote and wall-mounted switch, you can now use your smartphone or just your voice!

Handheld Remotes are portable and useful for adjusting the fan within the same room. The remote allows you to adjust the fan's settings without standing up.

Wall-mounted Remotes contains a wired wall control and doesn't have a receiver. This control typically has a single or dual slide control or rotary knobs. 

Some fans now have smartphone apps of their own, allowing you to adjust the settings of your fan whether you're upstairs, downstairs, or across the country. But, for those who prefer to go completely hands free, you can now simply tell your fan to turn on, off, adjust the light or even the fan speed. No need to worry about not having your phone in hand or misplacing the remote again.

IN SUMMARY,

Ceiling fan selection is important. While design is still beautiful thing to consider, the technicalities within the fan are crucial to ensuring you receive the desired output that you are expecting from that fan. Many factors are each distinct on their own and yet create a breezy air flow together. Remember to focus on the blade sweep (width of the fan, blade tip to blade tip), blade pitch (angle of the blade), CFM (airflow speed), and downrod length. Of course, adding the extra features like a light kit or even smartphone and voice settings are always amazing and convenient bonuses.