Ceiling Fan Buying Guide

Ceiling fan buying guide - Lights Online

Ceiling fans are an ideal way to enhance the value, comfort and beauty of your home. They are a great source of overhead ambient lighting, but they also help you save energy—and, in turn, money on your energy bills! There are more styles of ceiling fan available than ever before, meaning you’re sure to find one that perfectly matches your style preferences and the look of your room.

This buying guide will help you understand what to look for and consider when purchasing a ceiling fan. If you have questions or need more help, feel free to contact us or give us a call at 1-866-688-3562.

Ceiling Fan Types and Uses

Ceiling fans are mainly divided by whether they can be used indoors or outdoors, although there is also an innovative new style that combines the style of chandeliers with the functionality of ceiling fans.

Indoor: Ceiling fans for indoor use run the gamut of décor styles, sizes and amounts of blades. Whether you need to outfit a tiny room or a sizeable space, there’s an indoor ceiling fan to meet your needs. There’s also an indoor ceiling fan to fit your décor style—traditional, modern and even ones with a tropical flair, plus finishes including nickel, wood, bronze, chrome and black.

Outdoor: Outdoor ceiling fans are made with more durable materials and can withstand the elements. There are 2 types of outdoor ceiling fan. Damp is suitable for use in covered areas like porches and patios. Wet is the type that can be exposed directly to rain, making it good for use in gazebos or pergolas.

Fan d’Lier: Exclusively from Savoy House, fan d’liers are a unique blend of ceiling fan functionality and the features of a chandelier, hence the name. They are available in styles with or without lights. Select fan d’liers also have air-ionizing features that improve the quality of the air you breathe. Plus, some fan d’liers are suitable for outdoor use.

Ceiling Fan Accessory Types

Fan blades: separate blades that can replace the ones already on a ceiling fan, bringing a new look into the room. Available in many colors, textures and shapes.

Wall-mounted controls: just like light switches, except with more functionality. Wall-mounted controls may feature controls for turning the ceiling fan on and off, changing fan speed, dimming lights and reversing the blade direction.

Remote controls: handheld controllers that do the same things as their wall-mounted counterparts. Receivers for wall-mounted and remote controls are mounted onto the canopy of the ceiling fan.

Anatomy of a Ceiling Fan

Anatomy of a Ceiling Fan - LightsOnline.com

Canopy: The base of the ceiling fan and the part that attaches to the ceiling. Wall or remote control receivers go here.

Down rod: Allows the ceiling fan to hang down from the canopy.

Fan blade: The parts that move so you can feel the fan’s breeze.

Fan motor: The housing that contains the ceiling fan’s motor and inner workings.

Fan arm: Holds the blades and connects them to the motor.

Light kit: Lighting fixtures that are either built into the fan or can be added onto a ceiling fan that came without an onboard light kit. Styles, sizes and finishes vary.

Fan controls: A pull chain used to regulate the speed of the fan’s blades. This function can also be performed by a wall or remote control.

Light controls: A pull chain used to turn the fan’s light on and off. This function can also be performed by a wall or remote control.

Sizing Ceiling Fans

The general rule of thumb to keep in mind is this: a ceiling fan that is too big for the space will be overwhelming, but a fan that is too small for the space won’t allow you to feel the fan’s benefits. Find the square footage of your room (multiply the length and width in feet) and match it with these general guidelines.

Ceiling fan sizing guide - Lights Online

Another way to look at it is this: Small fans of 36” or less are good for rooms of about 6 by 6 feet or smaller. Medium fans of 37-48” are good for rooms of about 10 by 10 feet. Standard-size 49-55” fans are good for 12 by 12 rooms. Large 56”+ fans are good for rooms of 15 by 15 feet and larger. If you have higher ceilings, you may want to add a separate, longer down rod that will bring the ceiling fan down closer to you so that you can feel its effects better. Here are recommended down rod lengths for higher ceilings.

Ceiling fan downrod length guide - Lights Online 

Ceiling Fan Installation

Ceiling fan installation requires a high degree of preparation and knowledge, a degree that may be too high for you. If so, that’s OK—you can hire an electrician to help you! But if you feel comfortable doing your own installation, here are important tips for doing it right and doing it safely.

1. Make sure that you have the correct junction box. Ceiling fans have to be anchored to electric ceiling junction boxes that can hold the heavy fan and its wiring. If you’re replacing an old fan, you may already have the proper junction box. If you’re putting in a new fan, you need to make sure you have the right junction box before installation. At this time, you may also want to check your state and local codes to make sure that you don’t need a special permit for your new fan.

2. Open your ceiling fan’s box to see if you have all the parts you need. Confirm there aren’t any pipes or wires in the way of where you want the fan. If your fan has a light kit, have the light bulbs ready, but don’t put them in before installing the fan.

3. Have a helper who can help you hold up the fan while you mount it, spot you while you are on the ladder and, most importantly, keep you safe. You also need a voltage tester, which is about $20 and sold at a hardware store. This is essential because you have to turn the power off at the electrical panel or fuse box, not just at the light switch, before installation. The voltage tester helps you know for sure that the power is off.

4. When you’re ready to install, remove the old fan and make note of how it is wired. You might want to take pictures or write down the specifics. These notes will help you install the new fixture properly and quickly. Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions down to the letter. After you’ve finished installing the ceiling fan, put light bulbs in, turn the power back on and enjoy!

Ceiling Fan Light Source Information

Halogen, a type of incandescent lighting, is a common source of ceiling fan illumination. The difference is that halogen bulbs feature a small amount of a halogen gas like iodine or bromine, helping to prolong the life of the bulb and letting it operate at a higher temperature.

Some ceiling fans make use of fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent bulbs, also known as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can fit in an incandescent bulb’s base to use less energy and last longer. Some CFLs even encase the curled tube in a globe to further mimic the incandescent look.

LED light bulbs are steadily becoming more widely-used, favored for their energy efficiency and very long lifespans (sometimes estimated at 20 years). They can be used in ceiling fans so long as the LED bulb has the same screw-in base as the bulb it is replacing.

The lighting information below applies to any kind of light bulb and may help you make the right choice for your needs.

Color temperature: Measured in degrees Kelvin, color temperature means how white a light source is. For a yellowish-white light, commonly associated with incandescent bulbs and sometimes described as warm white or soft white, look for bulbs with a color temperature between 2700 to 3000 degrees Kelvin (K). Cool, neutral or bright white light can be found with bulbs at a color temperature between 3500 and 4100 K. For natural white light that looks close to daylight, look for 5000 to 6500 K. Color temperature appears on bulb boxes as a sliding scale from warm to cool and low to high. Your personal preferences are the most important factor in picking the right color temperature for your ceiling fans. Here's a graphic example of different color temperatures so you can see the differences side-by-side.

Color temperatures side by side - LightsOnline.com

Color rendering index: Along with color temperature, bulbs are also rated on their ability to be as true to daylight as possible. This is the color rendering index, or CRI. 100 is the highest CRI score, but is just for daylight since that is considered the highest ideal type of light. Like with color temperature, your personal needs and wants should be the biggest factor in deciding what CRI to use.

Lumens and watts: When buying bulbs to use in ceiling fans, the most important measurement is really lumens, not watts. Wattage means how much power is required to operate the fixture, but not how much light it produces. (Wattage is still important because it’s a fire hazard to use more wattage in the bulbs than the fixture is rated for.) Lumens are the measure of how much light a bulb will give you and the more you have, the brighter the light. This is a table of watt to lumen equivalency rates that use the traditional, not the recent and more energy-efficient, wattages on light bulbs.

Watts to lumens conversion table - Lights Online

The above table is based on the traditional bulb wattages, not the recent government-mandated revisions that improve bulb efficiency (all of which have gone into effect as of January 1, 2014). Here is a table of those revisions:

Improved wattages for incandescent bulbs - Lights Online

Other Important Ceiling Fan Information

An important thing to remember about ceiling fans is that they don’t actually change the temperature of the room. Ceiling fans just provide a breeze. So, when you’re not in the room with the fan, turn it off and save energy!

You can use reversible ceiling fans during warm and cool weather to keep the room cooler or warmer, respectively. In warm months, use the downdraft setting. In cool months, use the updraft setting.

When you think about the efficiency of a ceiling fan, you need to consider airflow, which is a measure of how much air the ceiling fan can move. This is determined through the quality of the ceiling fan’s motor, the pitch or angle of the blade and the blade’s material. For a residential fan, the best pitch is 14 degrees because it provides the most airflow. The best materials for blades are laminates because laminates resist warping and are stronger than solid wood.

Speaking of the best materials, the quality of the motor is really what you’re paying for in a ceiling fan. High-quality motors are encased in heavy-gauge steel, so they’re quiet, less prone to rattling and will last a long time. Plus, they tend to look better visually.

Trying to pick the perfect color for your ceiling fan? Try identifying the most used color of wood in the room, like the flooring, and pick a fan that uses blades of that color. Then pick out the most used color of the metal hardware in the room, like doorknobs, and get a fan that has that finish too! Alternately, some people prefer all-white ceiling fans in order to blend in with a white ceiling.

Ceiling fan design has advanced to such a point that the difference in amount of blades (example: a fan with 3 blades versus one with 5) is negligible and mostly based on your decor preferences.  

All of our ceiling fans include energy guides that tell you the airflow, electricity used and airflow efficiency so you can make the best and most ideal choice for your needs!

If you're ready to find your favorite new fan, browse our selection of ceiling fans. Contact us or call us at 1-866-688-3562 for more help!

Emma Harger - Lights Online