How to Choose Ceiling Fans

Contemporary ceiling fan fixture

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Adding a ceiling fan to a space gives you more control over the comfort of the room, whether that means pushing warm air down to keep a space cozy or creating a cool breeze to keep the air circulating and a breeze blowing. However, choosing a ceiling fan involves more than picking what you think looks nice. Although this is important, there is a very large span of ceiling fan sizes, features, and types. And not every type of ceiling fan works with every type of room. So how do you choose? 

In this guide, we will look at each key factor you should consider before choosing a ceiling fan. From size to how you control the fan, we’ll walk you through each step. 

Meet the Expert

  • Tara Spaulding is an expert in the home decor space. She an interior design coordinator and consultant for Patio Productions.

Before Buying a New Ceiling Fan

First, it is important to consider your space and its use to determine whether a ceiling fan is your best option. How often are you in this room? Installing a ceiling fan is a lot more labor-intensive than carrying a portable fan into a room. If the room isn’t used all that often, a ceiling fan may not be necessary. You also need to consider how large the space is. Some airflow may be nice in a bathroom, but if it is small, a ceiling fan may not fit into the space at all. On the flip side, a very large room may require more than one ceiling fan to properly move the air in the space. 

If you frequently use an area of your home where you find yourself wishing for more control over airflow and temperature, a ceiling fan may be an ideal solution. As long as the space isn’t very tight, like a half-bath, there are generally ceiling fan sizes that can accommodate the space. 

You also may be considering replacing an existing ceiling fan because of aesthetic or functional reasons. Sagging fan blades can be an eyesore while also impacting air circulation. However, before picking out a new fan, you could consider buying replacement blades. This can be an easy and quick project that revives your fan's appearance. If your existing fan has a worn-out motor or a very dated appearance, it may be time to replace the entire unit. In general, ceiling fans last around 15 years, according to Tara. "This can vary depending on how often you use your fan, how well you maintain it, and what type of material it's made from."

From Tara's experience, some other possible signs of wear that indicate it's time to replace your ceiling fan include:

  • The fan makes an unusual noise when it's running.
  • The blades of the fan are loose or wobbly.
  • You notice rust on the screws holding the blade brackets in place.
  • The light fixture is dimmer than usual, or there are dark spots on the bulb.

Buying Considerations for Ceiling Fans

Room Size

The size of your room will affect the size of the ceiling fan you choose. A larger room has much more air to move than a smaller room and therefore will need a bigger fan. As a rule of thumb, small rooms (75 to 175 square feet) will need a fan with a 42 to 48-inch blade size. Medium rooms (175 to 300 square feet) should have a fan with 52 to 56-inch blades. For a large room (more than 350 square feet), you should pick a fan with a blade size that is 60 inches or more.  And for very small spaces, there are fans available with a 29-inch diameter or less. Making sure you choose the right size fan for your room is important for ensuring it works efficiently.  

Ceiling Height

Typically, a ceiling fan works best when it is 8 to 9 feet from the ground. To ensure that your fan is positioned at the right level, you will need to consider how the fan mounts to the ceiling. For low ceilings, flush-mount fans are available. These hug close to the ceiling, keeping the fan from hanging too low. Standard-mount ceiling fans are ideal for medium-height ceilings. These have a downrod that slightly lowers the fan from the ceiling. For very tall or vaulted ceilings, long downrods and adapter kits are available.  

Lights vs. No Lights

Ceiling fans are available both with lights and without lights. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind your lighting situation when choosing a ceiling fan. If your space is brightly lit by large windows and other lighting fixtures, you may wish to choose a ceiling fan without a light. On the other hand, if your space is a bit dark or could use more light, a ceiling fan with a built-in light could enhance your space even more. 

Tara points out that ceiling fans with lights are more expensive than ceiling fans without lights, "but they provide a lot of value if you want to save money on electricity bills by using the ceiling fan as an alternative to overhead lighting." This is especially true since many ceiling fans use efficient, long-lasting LED bulbs.

Control Options

There are many options to choose from when deciding how you would like to control your ceiling fan. Pull chains hang from the fan, making this a great option for low ceilings. Wall-controlled fans put all your control options on the wall light switch. These are great for keeping everything in one place, and for taller ceilings where pull chains are not an option. Remote controls can be used to control your ceiling fan wherever you are, without having to go to a particular wall switch. For even more convenience, some ceiling fans have smart home control features and can be controlled from any smart device.  


Along with technical features, there is also style to consider. Ceiling fans not only change the physical feel of a room by helping to regulate temperature, but they also change the visual appearance. When deciding on a ceiling fan style, take into consideration the style of your home. A wide variety of styles are available, from farmhouse to industrial to modern.  

Types of Ceiling Fans

Indoor or Dry-Rated Ceiling Fans

As indicated by the name, these fans are designed for indoor use only. These are perfect for bedrooms, living rooms, great rooms, or other areas in the home where excessive moisture is not present. 

Damp-Rated Ceiling Fans

Damp-rated ceiling fans are designed to withstand damp conditions both indoors and outdoors. Indoor rooms that experience high amounts of moisture, such as bathrooms, are great for damp-rated ceiling fans. Outdoors, these fans are ideal for covered areas that will not receive direct water exposure, such as covered porches or patios.  

Wet-Rated Ceiling Fans

These types of ceiling fans are designed to withstand direct contact with water, such as rain and snow. These are ideal for open outdoor areas, such as pergolas. They are constructed with materials that withstand moisture and changing weather without rusting or malfunctioning. 


Depending on the model and the features included, ceiling fans generally cost $150 to $400. A basic fan without extra features, such as smart home features or a remote, with a simple design style, will be less costly than an ultra-modern fan made from high-quality materials and equipped with the latest technology. 

If you are looking to save some money, be sure to check out ceiling fans that may be on clearance or on sale. Sometimes, old versions of designs will be marked down as newer designs come to market. Alternatively, shopping during the holiday season or the new year is another great way to save, as holiday sales are often run during this time. 

How to Choose a Ceiling Fan

What Kind of Room Needs a Fan?

Before deciding on fan size, features, or even style, you must consider the type of environment the fan will be in. Do you need a fan for your living room or bedroom? A dry-rated fan will do just fine. However, if you are looking for a fan to circulate the air in your outdoor covered porch, a damp or wet-rated fan is required. Keep in mind how much humidity and weather the fan will experience before choosing the first fan that stands out to you. 

How Large is the Room?

As discussed above, the size of the room greatly impacts the size of the fan you need to purchase. Although that compact fan with fancy blades looks really nice, it won’t be able to move the air effectively in a large room. Therefore, it is important to determine what size ceiling fan you need before shopping. 

Does Your Space Need More Light?

Another feature to consider is whether or not your ceiling fan should include a light. Pay attention to the lighting within your space throughout the day and take note of whether the space feels dark or well-lit. If your space lacks good natural lighting or does not have many light fixtures, adding a ceiling fan with a light can drastically change the feel of the space and make it more functional. 

Where to Shop

Buying In-Store

Ceiling fans can be purchased at many home improvement or lighting stores. This option allows you to see the fan in person, and you may even get to test fans and see them work. When shopping in person, ask the salesperson whether or not the ceiling fan comes with any warranties and what the return policy is. Pay attention to any features the fan has, and ask the salesperson if you are unsure whether or not the fan comes with certain features, such as a switch to alternate the direction that the blades rotate.  

Buying Online

Shopping online does not allow you to see the fan in person. However, online shopping gives you access to a much larger selection of ceiling fans than you would be able to see in-store. When shopping online, be sure to read carefully about the fan’s features, if it is dry, damp, or wet-rated, and whether or not the fan comes with any warranties. Check into the return policy and whether or not you will have to pay to return the fan if it does not work. 

Where to Buy a Ceiling Fan

Some retailers that sell ceiling fans in-store are Home Depot, Lowe’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart, and Target. Ceiling fans can be found online at these stores, as well as online retailers like Overstock, Wayfair, Amazon and other online suppliers. When deciding where to buy a ceiling fan, be sure to check your local business or small shops that may sell ceiling fans. 

  • How many blades should a ceiling fan have?

    Ceiling fans come with three, four, or five blades. Generally, three-bladed ceiling fans run faster and create a cooler, more powerful breeze. However, they are more unbalanced and can create more noise. Four and five-bladed ceiling fans run slower than three-bladed fans, and do not create as much air movement. They are more balanced, however, and are quieter. 

  • How do I know which size ceiling fan to choose?

    The size of the ceiling fan you choose should be dependent on the size of the room where the ceiling fan will be placed. The larger the room, the bigger the fan diameter should be. Use the square footage of your room to dictate the blade size of the fan. Tara points out that you should also factor in ceiling height. "If you have a large room with high ceilings, you might want to consider purchasing a larger-than-average ceiling fan. Large fans can run at lower speeds and still move a lot of air. The larger the blade diameter on your fan, the more air it will move in your room."

  • What happens if a ceiling fan is too big or too small for a room?

    If a ceiling fan is too big for a room, it will look disproportionate and overpower the room. It may also create too strong of a breeze for the space. If a fan is too small for a space, the fan will be unable to move air effectively and will therefore not create the airflow you need.