How To Select A Ceiling Fan
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How To Select A Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans cool by employing the evaporative cooling process. For maximum effect they should be sized based on occupied area and not on total room floor area.

Ceiling fans come in sizes ranging from 24 inches in diameter to 60 inches in diameter. Most ceiling fan manufacturers correlate the diameter of the fan with room area. Some manufacturers even stamp the fans cfm (cubic feet per minute) capacity rating on the box to make volume calculations easier. As a rule, a high quality 36-inch fan has a cfm rating between 2500 and 4000 cfm. A high quality 48-inch fan has a cfm rating between 4000 and 8000 cfm. From these figures, one would be led to believe that bigger is better when it comes to cooling the room. Wrong, bigger is not necessarily better because no fan cools the room. Fans only deceive people into thinking that the room is cooler.

Ceiling fans makes the room feel cooler because of the wind-chill factor.

The human body rids itself of excess heat by sweating. As your perspiration evaporates, the body is cooled. This is part of homeostasis, the body's ability to maintain it internal temperature at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Air being forced over the body by a fan expedites the evaporative cooling process by creating a wind chill. The gentle breeze generated by a ceiling fan is enough to create a wind chill that will make you think that the room is 8 degrees cooler than it actually is. With a properly sized and installed ceiling fan people are comfortable until the temperatures exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit without using air conditioning.

The ceiling fans must be placed where the people are.

In order for the evaporative cooling process to take place, the air must flow over the body. To select a fan based on the total floor area of a room is overkill if only a portion of that room is occupied most of the time. The living room in my old farmhouse has an area of 600 square feet, but the area occupied most of the time is approximately 200 square feet. I sized my living room ceiling fan for that area because that's where the bodies would be that the air had to flow over. I center my fan in that area.

What is the optimum fan size for the occupied area?

A good rule of thumb for calculating the ceiling fan's diameter in inches is to divide the area in square feet by four to get the fan diameter in inches. In my case, I divided the 200 square feet by 4 to get 50 inches. The closest standard size was 52 inches, and that is what I installed.

Mounting height is important too.

The ideal mounting height for a ceiling fan is between 8 to 10 feet above the floor. If your ceilings are higher than 10 feet, use extension rods to lower the fan to the 8 to 10 foot height. Under no circumstances should the fan blades be less than 7 feet above the floor for safety.

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Comments (5)

I didn't know that about ceiling fans and the indoor wind chill effect.

Truly, these tips are useful. I'm contemplating of installing one over our dining table.

I get it right every once in awhile, Patrick. Happy Turkey Day to you and yours.

I learned a lot from this article! I think our ceiling fans might be too big, but then it's a brick house and gets really hot.

I'd prefer air conditioner. It can also cool the air very well when I am engaged with my gcse english coursework!