Best Ceiling Fan for Your Space

How to Choose the Best Ceiling Fan for Your Space

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up

A ceiling fan can make a room feel up to four degrees cooler in the summer, and in the winter, you can change the direction of the fan blades to push warm air down from the ceiling and make your home feel warmer without adjusting the thermostat. A ceiling fan costs pennies to operate in comparison with your A/C or furnace, so it’s the obvious economical choice and it’s more sustainable, too.

But how do you choose the right ceiling fan for your space? It’s about more than just buying a conversation piece or matching your new fan to your decor, although those things are important, too. You need to get a fan that’s the right size for your space, and one that produces the kind of breeze you want, too.

Choose the Right Size Fan for the Room

The most important part of choosing a new ceiling fan is getting one that’s the correct size for your room. The larger the room where you’ll be hanging the fan, the larger the fan you need. In a smaller room, you can get away with a smaller fan.

It’s easy to figure out how big of a fan you’ll need for your room. Measure the longest wall of the room. If the longest wall is shorter than 12 feet, you need a fan no larger than 46 inches. If the longest wall is 12 to 18 feet long, get a fan 48 to 56 inches wide. If the longest wall is more than 18 feet, you should get a fan larger than 56 inches. You may even want to install multiple ceiling fans in very large rooms.

Hang Your Fan at the Proper Height

A ceiling fan should ideally hang seven to nine feet off the floor. In most homes with nine-foot ceilings, you can install a fan with a 12-inch downrod to bring it down to about eight feet off the floor. If your ceilings are higher than that, you’ll need a longer downrod, which you may have to buy separately. If you’re hanging your fan from a pitched ceiling, you’ll need a longer downrod to hang your fan so that it doesn’t hit the sides of the ceiling. If your ceilings are eight feet or lower, you’ll need a flush mount fan that doesn’t use a downrod.

For Outdoor Fans, Get a Wet-Rated Model

Ceiling fans aren’t just for inside the house. A ceiling fan can make an outdoor space, like a porch or pergola, feel a lot more comfortable.

But you shouldn’t try to hang an indoor ceiling fan outside. You need to look at outdoor ceiling fans rated for use in wet or damp conditions. Damp-rated fans are suitable for covered outdoor spaces, like porches, where fans may get a little wet but won’t actually be fully in the rain. Get a wet-rated fan if your outdoor fan will be more exposed. If you live in a coastal location, get a marine-rated fan – it will best withstand the salt air.

Best Ceiling Fan for Your Space

Get the Breeze You Need from Your Fan

It’s absolutely essential that your new fan give you the airflow you need to feel comfortable in your home. Fans are rated for power based on how many cubic feet of air they can move per minute. The cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating of a good fan will be 4,000 to 5,000. Better fans move 5,000 to 6,000 CFM, while the best models move more than 6,000 CFM. The higher the CFM rating, the stronger the breeze will be from your fan.

The number of blades on a fan can also make a difference to how strong of a breeze it creates. Perhaps it’s counterintuitive, but the more blades a fan has, the gentler the breeze it creates. That’s because more blades equals more wind resistance, and fans with more blades turn more slowly, too, since they’re heavier. On the other hand, a fan with two or three blades will spin much faster, and move more CFM.

Match Your New Fan to the Room

Matching your new fan to the room can be the hardest part of buying a new fan. Choose a fan that reflects your decorating style. Get a fan with hardware that matches the hardware in your room, so that your door knobs, light switch covers, and outlet plates are all the same color and finish as the hardware on the fan. If you’re going with a wood-look fan, choose the same type of wood that predominates in your decorating scheme.

A new ceiling fan can really be an upgrade to your living space. You’ll love how much more comfortable you feel at home – and you’ll love the energy savings, too.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.