Ceiling Fan Buyer’s Guide: 7 Things You NEED to Consider Before You Buy!

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 07/07/24 •  9 min read

Fans have been a source of comfort and beauty in households for almost two centuries. Ceiling fans provide one of the most aesthetically pleasing and economically efficient ways to moderate temperature in homes.

Today’s fans are available in countless styles, from ornate and traditional to streamlined and modern, from functional to exotic, to suit every style of home interior.

With so many options, selecting the right fan may seem like a daunting task, but with a little knowledge, choosing the right fan can be simple.

Here are seven important considerations when shopping for a ceiling fan for your home:

Energy Efficiency: Will Your Fan Be a Money Saver or an Expense

Fans provide comfort while helping cut energy costs. During warm months, a fan circulates a breeze to help you feel cooler. In colder seasons, fans with reversible rotation move warmer air downwards, increasing heat in a room.

Some high-quality fans even have an automatic adjustment feature that changes the fan speed based on temperature.

Ceiling fans can greatly reduce demands on heating and air conditioning systems, significantly lowering electric bills. EnergyStar® rated fans can further increase conservation, moving air up to 20% more efficiently than standard units.

Fan Blades and Styles: Economical Vs. Posh

Ceiling fans typically have three to five blades, though some models may have as few as one or two.

Contemporary style fans frequently have three or fewer blades and feature sleek metal finishes. More traditional fans have 4-5 blades that may be solid wood or cross-laminated veneer (plywood).

The most economical blades are made of veneered constant-density board. All varieties of wood blades come in numerous finishes, including but not limited to white, cherry, oak, walnut, pine and rosewood.

Some fans even feature reversible blades with a different finish on each side.

Light Is Right? When to Choose

Since ceiling fans are easily installed in standard junction boxes (which usually house flush mounts and other ceiling light fixtures), many fans feature built-in lighting.

Other fan models are adaptable for use with optional add-on light fixtures.

Light-kit compatible fans allow the freedom to choose whether additional lighting is desired after the fan has been installed, and they are generally more economical than fans with built-in fixtures.

Choose Quality NOT RPM’s

Fan cost is determined foremost by quality. Other price-influencing factors include accessories, energy efficiency, and manufacturing costs.

Normally, a simpler model will be less costly, while a very ornate fan with intricate detailing will have a higher price. The most important features of a ceiling fan – functionality and efficiency – are always worth a little extra expense.

A quality fan will run silently and yield a high airflow output. Cheaper models feature less powerful motors that may cause the fan to wobble and hum, and often include shorter blades set at the minimum pitch of 10°. This combination will not produce as much airflow as a higher-quality fan. Good fan motors will have sealed bearings that do not require lubrication, as well as self-contained oil reservoirs that prevent dust from entering. Properly balanced motors and rotors remain stable, which helps prevent noise. Quality ceiling fan motors should also have several adjustable speeds, and be backed by a long-term warranty.

A good blade pitch is 12-14° or higher. The greater the pitch, the more pressure the fan blades apply to air to move it downwards. Faster spinning fans do not increase airflow: Movement of air is a factor of blade pitch, blade length, and the distance from the blades to the ceiling.

Contrary to what some fans may advertise, the number of blades and the RPM (revolutions per minute) do not affect airflow. A fan with longer blades and greater pitch, even when moving at slower speeds, will disperse air more efficiently, as well as more quietly. The best assurance of a quality fan is a UL listing or other equivalent rating.

Installation Basics: Getting the Right Height Ceiling Fan

Most fans are designed for easy installation and include basic instructions. All fans should come with complete mounting kits, requiring only basic assembly. The junction box a fan is being attached to must be labeled “suitable for fan support.” If it is not, a retrofit with a new box will be necessary. If you are unsure, consult an electrician for guidance.

Your ceiling fan should hang at least eight feet above the ground, and the ceiling should be at least a foot above the plane of blade rotation. Low ceilings require special flush mount installations, while longer downrods are needed for high ceilings.

The following is a guide to what downrod length to use for a variety of ceiling heights:

Sloped ceilings require special adjustable or angle-mounted fan canopies, and possibly additional downrods if extra clearance is needed due to the fan’s blade span.

For higher ceilings, be sure to incorporate a wall switch or remote control to operate the fan, as a pull chain may not extend far enough to be reached.

What About Blade Span?

It is very important to consider the size of a fan, measured by the full sweep of the blade span, in relation to the size of the room in which it will be installed. The average blade span for a household ceiling fan measures from 29-52”; however, even larger models are available. Always measure the room and plan ahead for space requirements, and take into consideration any special parts that may be required for installing fans in angled or extra-high ceilings.

A fan that is too small will not effectively circulate air. Generally, a fan cannot be “too large” for a room, as long as there is ample clearance for the blades to rotate. Different manufacturers recommend varying fan sizes to accommodate corresponding spaces, but general recommendations of fan blade spans for various room sizes are as follows:

Materials, Care, and Cleaning

Always think about the level of maintenance and care a ceiling fan will require before purchasing. Consider where the fan will be placed, and what sort of conditions it will need to be resilient against. Fans with quality, tarnish-proof brass finishes, for instance, are rust-resistant and don’t require polish.

Resin and plastic are good choices for outdoor fans. These materials stand up well to humidity and moisture, and as a bonus can be more affordable as well. Outdoor fans with wood or metal blades need to undergo special treatment to be weather-resistant. Quality outdoor fans should always be UL listed for wet locations.

Dust should be wiped off fan blades at least once a month. A soft cloth or a vacuum cleaner can accomplish this task. Special cleaning brushes are also made for fans that hang out of reach. Avoid using any form of detergents or soaps to clean the fan, and when cleaning the blades, be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this may alter the blade pitch, and decrease airflow efficiency. Proper maintenance of your ceiling fan will help it function beautifully for years to come.

Final Thoughts: Smart Selection for the Ideal Ceiling Fan

In conclusion, choosing the perfect ceiling fan for your home is a blend of style, efficiency, and practicality. From understanding energy efficiency to selecting the right blade span and style, each aspect plays a crucial role. Always prioritize quality over RPMs and consider installation basics for the right fit.

Remember, a well-chosen fan not only enhances your home’s aesthetics but also offers a cost-effective way to improve air circulation, contributing to both comfort and reduced energy bills. Make an informed choice and enjoy the perfect blend of functionality and style in your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ceiling Fans

Why should I buy a ceiling fan?

Ceiling fans can efficiently cool rooms in the summer and maintain a comfortable temperature in the winter, reducing energy costs.

What size of ceiling fan should I get?

It is important to select a fan that suits the size of your room, as a small fan may not circulate enough air and a large fan could overwhelm the room’s occupants.
In general, a room of 50 square feet or less should have a 29″ fan, under 75 square feet should have a 36” fan. 42” fans are appropriate for rooms up to 100 square feet and 50” or 52” fans will be most effective in rooms up to 400 square feet. If you have a large space, 400 square feet or larger, a 54” fan will be the best choice.

How high should I hang my ceiling fan?

Ceiling fan blades should be rotating about 8 feet above the floor. If you have a very tall ceiling, you can purchase a downrod to extend your fan to an appropriate height.

What is ceiling fan blade pitch?

The blade pitch is the angle of the blades compared to the horizon. It is the tilt of the blades that produces the air and angles it downward. The most powerful ceiling fans have a blade pitch of 12-14 degrees.

How can I use a ceiling fan in winter?

Since warm air rises, a ceiling fan can be used to push the warm air back down toward the floor. Many modern ceiling fans come with a reversible feature so they work in both winter and summer.

Can I install a ceiling fan on a sloped ceiling?

Many fans companies offer an optional adapter that will allow you to hang a fan on a sloped ceiling. These come in a variety of angles, so you will need to find out the angle of your ceiling before purchasing the adapter.


At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.