We recently replaced our old ceiling fan with a new model and the change was subtle, but significant. The new model is quieter, has more features, and looks better. We feel a little more relaxed, a little more at ease. And that’s the whole point of our home spa concept! Well worth the small outlay.
Why did we get a ceiling fan in the first place? Well, in summer a ceiling fan makes you feel cooler because of the wind chill effect, while in winter it pushes warm air back down where you can feel it (and where your thermostat can detect it). That saves you money on air conditioning and heating. If you’re an environmentalist, consider that an air con unit consumes 3,500 watts, compared to 60 watts for a ceiling fan.
Since most people don’t really know how to choose a fan or how to get the most out of one, we’ve written this guide. It’s got tips on what to look for in a fan and some hacks on how to get the most out of them.
- Choosing Your Fan
- Cleaning Your Fan
- Ceiling Fan Tips and Tricks
Choosing Your Fan
As one of the best-selling pieces of furniture in the country, you can buy a ceiling fan pretty much anywhere -- your local hardware store, giant out-of-town outlets, to your favourite online retailer with low prices and legendary customer service (we’re both unashamed Amazon Prime customers).
But the range of options might be overwhelming, so let’s get down to basics.
The First Thing to Look At is the Angle of the Blades
This is basic physics. You need the angle to the 12 degrees or greater, otherwise the fan is basically wasting energy. It won’t make the air move anything like enough. You want the blades to move air up or down, and that means they have to be angled.
12 degrees is the minimum needed to get the effect you want, while 16 degrees might be even TOO effective. They push a lot of air around, so that’s not a good option in a study for example, where you’ve got all your paperwork. 14 degrees is a good balance between power and comfort.
Next, Get the Size that Fits Your Room
There’s a correlation between the size of a space and how big a fan needs to be to have the desired effect.
To get the best balance between airflow and energy consumption:
|Room Dimensions (square feet)||Fan Diameter (inches)|
Consider Which Features You Need
- Lighting -- unless your room already has great lighting, buy a model with a light assembly included.
- Remotes -- not totally needed but it’s one of life’s little luxuries to be able to control a fan without leaving your massage chair.
- Pull chains -- surprisingly they aren’t included in every fan, which is a nuisance if your remote stops working
- Reverse mode -- Allows the blades to rotate in the opposite direction. Very useful in winter (see our tips below)
- Thermostat links -- Allow your thermostat to control the fan for maximum efficiency
The easiest way to do it is to pay someone to do it for you -- you can expect to pay between $100-300 for that. Or you can do it yourself if you are comfortable around a screwdriver.
Paying for Installation (and/or an Electrician)
Some ceiling fan companies offer a white glove service, so they will take care of everything. Their employees know those products inside out, so it’s not the worst choice. If you buy from Lowe’s or Home Depot, they also offer installation services. You might be able to haggle for a good deal.
A local handyman might be a good option -- especially if all the wiring is up to scratch and in the right place. (In our case we were just replacing an existing fan so this is the option we took.)
If your wiring is a mess or it isn’t in the right place for where the fan should go, the costs are going to add up quickly. It could take an extra hundred or two to get the wiring sorted. (My friend has a horror story about the wiring in his house, but that’s a story for another time…)
The DIY Option
You could decide to do the work yourself. There are certainly enough manuals, guides, and YouTube videos to point you in the right direction. Every fan is a little bit different so do have a least a quick skim through before you get started.
As for YouTube videos, here’s the best of the bunch:
Before You Get Started
Hold your fan up in the place you want to install it. The ends of the blades should be 2.5 feet away from anything it might hit (walls, pipes, cabinets), and the blades should be 7 feet from the floor.
Cleaning Your Fan
A light dusting should take care of a little dustiness, but maybe once a year or so you’ll want to give it a proper clean. That means removing the blades, which means taking sensible steps like using a stepladder (not two chairs balanced on one another!), turning the fan off and maybe even cutting the main power supply. Let’s make America safe again!
It should then be a piece of cake to unscrew the blades and clean them with soapy water.
Ceiling Fan Tips and Tricks
#1: Counterclockwise in Summer
(Note that the actual rotation varies from model to model but for most fans counterclockwise is the ‘summer’ setting.) Remember when we told you to buy a ceiling fan that can rotate in two directions? Here’s why. Stand under the fan and turn it on. If you feel the breeze then consider that to be the summer setting. Basically in summer you want the air to be going down into the room where you’ll feel it on your skin and get that pleasant, cooling wind chill effect.
If you don’t feel the breeze you need to flick the little switch on the fan to change the rotation.
#2: Clockwise in Winter
Do the opposite in winter. That’s right, you want to blow air UPWARDS.
Your heating system will create warm air, and your ceiling fan will capture it and send it upwards in the center of the room and DOWN the walls. You’ll be able to feel that it’s working by standing at the sides of the room. You have just created the optimal mix of warm and cool air and the temperature will be more stable. That eases the pressure on your heating system and saves you money.
#3: Set Your Thermostat Higher in Summer
Your ceiling fan doesn’t actually cool the air, it just feels like that when you’re under it. What it does do is circulate the cool air better. So if you’re going to be home the whole day, raise your thermostat a bit and save money -- the room will feel like it’s cooler than it is so there’s no need to push your AC so hard.
#4: Turn Fans Off When You’re Going Out
You might buy a fancy system with timers or sleep modes, but in general fans cool people, not rooms, so there’s no reason to leave them running when you go out. You won’t find the room cooler when you come home, but you will notice the difference in your next electricity bill.
We hope you found this guide useful, and wish you a great time relaxing under your new ceiling fan!