How To Choose A Ceiling Fan

Buying a ceiling fan isn’t as easy as just closing your eyes and choosing one or picking a pretty design. There are measurements you have to know as well as the type of fan you need, among other factors, before you can buy a ceiling fan. This article will guide you through the necessary information on how to buy a ceiling fan. To start things off, below are three things you must know about the area where the fan will be installed.

3 Steps

Step 1: Installation Area

Location: Before you can pick a design or style, the number one thing to think about is the location where the ceiling fan will be installed, indoors or outdoors for starters. This is important due to the amount of moisture or wetness the fan will be exposed to.

  • Indoor ceiling fans probably won’t be rained on. So, choose a fan made to be used indoors only. They are a bit cheaper than outdoor fans and made with materials that can’t handle the outside environment. An exception is if installed in a kitchen, bathroom, indoor pool or other places where the moisture and humidity is high, then a damp rated fan is required.
  • Outdoor ceiling fans demand the motor be sealed from the weather. They come in 2 types: damp rated and wet rated.
    • Damp rated fans can handle moisture. Install in a closed in porch a garage or similar.
    • Wet rated fans can handle direct water contact. Install in a open porch a gazebo or other areas where water may get to it. Tip: UL wet rated ceiling fans can be rinsed off with a hose for cleaning.

Room Size: The purpose of a ceiling fan is to either cool you down or help disperse heat evenly around the room. The second important tip when choosing a fan is to think about the room’s dimensions. In order for proper function, you have to match the fan to the room size. To determine room size: measure the room’s length times width and you will get ft².

  • Up to 75 ft² – Use a fan with 29 – 36″ diameter.
    • Example Areas: bathrooms, hallways; breakfast nooks, laundry rooms
  • 76 – 144 ft² – Use a fan with 36 – 42″ diameter.
    • Example Areas: small bedrooms and small kitchens
  • 144 – 225 ft² – Use a fan with 44″ diameter.
    • Example Areas: standard kitchen and living rooms
  • 225 – 400 ft² – Use a fan with 50 – 54″ diameter.
    • Example Areas: standard bedrooms, family rooms; great rooms, large areas
    • Suggestion: To evenly distribute the air, install two or more smaller fans.


Room Height: There is a minimal height requirement for a ceiling fan in a room. After all, how do you think getting hit by a high rpm motor with blades would feel? Not good.

  • Minimal Ceiling Height – 7 feet 6 inches is the bare minimum room’s height you can install a ceiling fan in. This requires a specific type of fan called hugger (also known as low profile and flush mount). Ceiling fans can not be under seven feet from the ground according to national building codes.
  • Recommended Height – Between 8 and 9 feet from the ground is the recommended maximum effectiveness of a ceiling fan.
  • Best Space Between Ceiling and Fan – 12 inches is the closest you want to install the fan to the ceiling for maximum airflow. 6 inches is the bare minimum of space you can install a ceiling fan to the ceiling.

Now that you know where you will be installing the ceiling fan, the next section is on how to choose a ceiling fan based on the type of fan.

Step 2: Fan Function

Based on the room’s measurements, you should know if the fan needs to be UL rated, the size of the fan (span), and if you need a low profile or to use downrods or not. Now you will need to consider the function of the ceiling fan. Will it be used more as a decorative fixture or will it be used daily for air circulation? The difference determines how good of a motor you need and what pitch of the blades is best.

Durability of the Motor: Motors are extremely important for the longevity of ceiling fans. Look for heavy-duty motors that are sized correctly for the job. Undersized fans are less efficient and may emit a humming or clicking sound. Heavy-duty motors will usually have a lifetime warranty backing them up. Tip – Heavy-duty motors are a must for ceiling fans with more blade pitch.

The body housings are either die cast or stamped steel. Stamped steel are less expensive and are more likely to wobble and make noise. Die cast offers a long lifespan due to the lower operating temperatures. They run quietly and smoothly with less vibration and add to the stability of the fan.


Blade Pitch: Ceiling fans should have a blade pitch (angle) of 14 to 20 degrees to maximize their efficiency. Fans with a blade pitch less than 14 degrees do not circulate air very efficiently and must only be used in confined spaces or as decoration. Remember: the steeper the pitch the more important a heavy-duty motor is. Ceiling fans with a blade pitch greater than 20 degrees are prone to malfunction even with a heavy-duty motor, because of the increased friction that the blade and motor experience.

Energy Star Rated: Ceiling fans, like many other cooling devices, are turned on most of the time to maximize their function. For this reason, it is best to look for energy star-rated ceiling fans. Energy star-rated ceiling fans are proven to be at least 50% more efficient than the average ceiling fan and require less electricity to operate saving you money.

Ceiling Fan Lights: Think about where the fan will be. Do you need light in that area? If so, choose a ceiling fan that uses led or fluorescent bulbs. These fans will use less electricity.

Step 3: Fan Design

Now is the fun part. What will the ceiling fan look like? This all depends on your personal taste and style, but you don’t want to clash against the room’s decor. Start by asking yourself what decorating style you have used in the room. Whether it’s contemporary, traditional, minimalist, rustic, tropical or other. Ceiling fans styles are categorized the same way so select a fan in the same style as the room. Amazon easily allows you to sort by styles, color, size, brand and more.

Now that you have narrowed down the overall style of the fan, choosing the color and material is next.

Fan Body Color/Material: Choose a fan body with a finish that matches the predominant metal in the room. For example, match the knobs on drawers and doorknobs.

Fan Blades Color: Choose blades that match the wood in the room. For example, match the color of wooden floors or the wood in furniture or moldings.

When it comes down to it, your ceiling fan should reflect you. A well-picked fan will add to the design of the room and enhance it.

Keep these tips in mind when buying your next ceiling fan. Design is secondary to a properly installed fan. Safety and function should be top priority during any ceiling fan installation.