Three Things to Consider when Choosing a New Ceiling Fan

From bedrooms to great rooms to outdoor living spaces, ceiling fans help keep us comfortable and even add a dash of style. But how do you know what fan is right for your space? Here are three things to consider when choosing the perfect ceiling fan for your space:


Choosing a fan that fits your space properly is paramount. Installing a fan that’s either too big or too small will affect the aesthetics of the room and the fan won’t achieve what you intend it to. A room dwarfed by a giant fan that creates a noisy breeze is no good, but neither is a small fan mounted too close to the ceiling to move significant amounts of air. To get the just-right size, remember these considerations:

Fan Diameter: Fan blades come in many lengths, measured by the full blade sweep – a measure of the fan’s diameter, usually in inches in the United States. You can find fans in standard diameters of  30, 42, 44, 46, 50, 52, and 60 inches. Some manufacturers make even larger fans, which are fabulous in very large spaces. 

Room Size: This is so important! Sales Manager Rosie tells us why: “It’s very unpleasant to have to run a small fan on high speed because it’s too small to move much air. And we sell mostly 60” fans today for average size (12 x 12-ish) rooms, partly because the most popular fans only have three blades now.”

So keeping her advice in mind, here are some basic guidelines for fan size. To determine the optimal size fan for your space, you should measure its square footage – length times width in feet will give you that number. For example, a 10’ by 12’ dining room is 120 square feet. Here are some basic guidelines for the most common sizes of fans:

  • Under 42” diameter fan is ideal for rooms  measuring 40-60 square feet
  • 44″ for 70 to  90 square feet
  • 52 – 58″ for 100 to 150 square feet
  • 60″ for rooms measuring close to or more than 160 square feet

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Ceiling Height is another important factor, not only to avoid smacking one’s head on a low-hanging fan but to allow for enough airflow that the effects will be noticeable. The fan should be at least seven feet above the floor. About eight feet is ideal.

The blades need to turn freely. Make sure the fan’s blade tips are at least 24 inches from the walls or the slope of the ceiling. Also, be sure doors or cabinets don’t impede the motion of the blades in any manner.

If your ceiling is higher than 9 feet, it’s best to hang the fan from a down rod. The suggested length of drop rod for a 10-foot ceiling is 18 inches, and for 12-foot ceilings, 36 inches.

The most common method used to find the right down rod length is to take the ceiling height, and subtract the actual height of the ceiling fan (most fans are between 12 and 18 inches in height; height can usually be found in the specifications of the fan.), and then subtract the desired hanging height (usually eight feet). For example, if your ceiling is 12 feet high and your ceiling fan is 12 inches in height, you will need a 24-inch down rod for the mounted fan to hang between eight and nine feet above the floor. 


Ceiling fans today are available in myriad styles, from uber-traditional to wildly contemporary. Materials range from wood to metal, composite to acrylic, and natural to space-age looks. Choosing the style and finish depends largely on the style of your other decor, the vibe of the space, and your personal taste.


Fans vary in finish and style, but they also vary when it comes to blades. We’ve seen everything from one-blade fans to a dozen or more. More traditional fans have five blades, but the three-blade look is wildly popular, particularly for a more contemporary look.

From a functional standpoint, the number of blades doesn’t matter nearly as much as blade pitch – or how angled the blade is as it moves through the air. Typically, blade pitch ranges from 10 to 14 degrees. The steeper the blade pitch, the more air the fan will move. However, steeper pitched blades also make more noise when spinning at higher speeds. But if you want to move a lot of air, lean toward blades with a steeper pitch. 



What exactly do you want your ceiling fan to do? Besides looking great, a fan can accomplish several things.

It’s important to know that fans don’t cool a space; they cool the people in them. When air is moved throughout the room, the effects are felt by its inhabitants as a windchill effect. So while a fan doesn’t actually cool the room, it moves enough air to make it feel cooler. The air movement also makes the room feel less “stuffy”, which is a welcome effect in humid climates. 

A ceiling fan can also help save energy. In hot weather, operate the fan in the usual direction, which is counterclockwise. This motion creates the aforementioned cooling effect, that results in reduced AC energy consumption.

But did you know that a fan can also help save on heating costs? It sure can! In cold weather, reverse your ceiling fan’s direction – to clockwise. This creates a gentle updraft that circulates the warm air trapped near the ceiling throughout the room.

Choosing a ceiling fan doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Simply remember these tips and consider them carefully when making your selection. A seasoned lighting consultant can also help you with this choice, and if you’re at all in doubt, the staff at Mahlander’s is happy to help.



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