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Ceiling Fan Buying Guide

BY: Rory Cooper | Feb 28, 2017

brunette man installing hanging ceiling fan

The gently whirring blades of a ceiling fan do more than just circulate air through a room. Most double as a source of illumination, making their installation one of the most cost-effective ways to elevate your home’s comfort level and boost its market value. Our ceiling fan buying guide will help you select a model that matches your space’s size and decor—and also walk you through how to install a ceiling fan yourself.

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Comparing Ceiling Fan Styles

ceilign fans with various lights and blade styles

Ceiling fan styles run the gamut of aesthetics, making it easy to choose a fixture that meshes well with your furniture and decor. If your room is dominated by dark woods, follow suit with dark wood blades. If it’s accented with chrome and stainless steel, seek out a modernist design made from similar materials. Avoid anything that clashes visibly with the vibe of your space.

What you’ll really need to take into account, however, are the different mounting styles:

  • Downrod fans hang from a rod connected to the ceiling and are recommended for rooms with high ceilings. Ceiling fan downrod length will be largely determined by the height of your ceiling.
  • Flush-mounting fans hug the ceiling, making them well-suited for rooms with low overhead clearance.
  • Sloped fans, along with a special adapter, allow you to install fans on upward-sloping ceilings beneath gables or above stairwells.

Choosing a Ceiling Fan Size

The square footage of your room will determine your ceiling fan size. You should also keep the fan’s cubic feet per minute (CFM) in mind. CFM measures how much air the blades move per minute, so larger rooms will need a higher rating. A bedroom or small room will typically have a CFM of 4000–5500, while larger spaces will typically have a CFM of 5500-8000. For very large spaces, seek a CFM above 8000.

Up to 75 square feet 29”–36” Bathrooms, breakfast nooks, and utility rooms
Up to 175 square feet 42”–48” Large bathrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms
Up to 350 square feet 52”–56” Large bedrooms, family rooms, and living rooms
Over 350 square feet 60” or larger Garages, basements, and other very large rooms

Selecting a Ceiling Fan Height

If you opt for a sloped or downrod fan, the ceiling fan height needs to strike a fine balance between airflow and safety. To accommodate your ceiling and still keep your ceiling fan above the heads of taller family members, match the ceiling fan downrod length to your ceiling’s height:

ceiling fan height chart

How to Install a Ceiling Fan

You can likely find a seasoned professional in your area to handle the installation—and you should hire one if the job requires extensive rewiring. But if your home’s wiring is up to date and you know your way around a toolbox, there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself. Here’s how to install a ceiling fan:

Pro Tip: Make sure you switch off the circuit first! Confirm that electricity is off with a multimeter before you begin work.

ceiling fan installation table