Ceiling fans are a stylish and functional addition to your home. Not only do they create a breeze to help keep your home cool in the summer (and reduce strain on your air conditioner) they can circulate warm air in the winter and keep you warm and toasty even when it’s frigid outside.

Choosing the right ceiling fans isn’t simply a matter of picking one out from the home improvement store that matches your decor, though. Everything from the size of the blades to the way the fan is controlled can make a difference in how well the fan performs, its efficiency, and its safety. Before you go shopping, check out this guide to help you choose the perfect fan, and get the most from it no matter where it’s placed.


A fan that hangs too low from the ceiling is a safety hazard, while one that doesn’t hang low enough from a high ceiling won’t give you the breeze and airflow you want. The National Electrical Code requires ceiling blades to be at least seven feet from the floor, so the height of your ceiling will determine the drop of the fan. The lower the ceiling, the less drop you can have.

If your ceiling is only eight feet tall, then your only option is a flush mount fan. As the name suggests, this means that the motor housing is mounted flush against the ceiling. Higher ceilings can accommodate fans with longer downrods; choose the length that places the fan blades 7-9 feet above the floor. If you have especially high ceilings, you may need to invest in an extension rod to hang the fan properly. These rods can extend anywhere from 12 to 72 inches. Always purchase extension rods from the same manufacturer as the fan so they match and are able to be safely used with that model.

Blade Span

Different ceiling fans have different blade lengths, or spans, which influence the airflow in the room. The larger the room, the bigger the blades you need; multiple fans are often necessary for especially large rooms. The scale of the fans should match the size of the room; an especially large fan in a small room will be overwhelming, where small fans will look odd in a large room.

Before shopping, measure the square footage of the room and keep these guidelines in mind:

Room Size Recommended Blade Span
80 sq.ft or less 24”-42”
100-150 sq. feet 44”-50”
150-300 sq. feet 52”-60”
300 sq. feet and above 62” or larger

Control Options

Modern ceiling fans offer a wide range of control options. Although many come with an old-fashioned pull chain, that is impractical for especially high ceilings. Wall switches are another option, but if the fan has a light, separating the fan and lighting circuits is important — otherwise, you won’t be able to operate one without the other.

It’s becoming more common for fans to come with remote controls, or even Wi-fi control options, for maximum flexibility. As you compare your options, consider the type of control and what works best in your home.

Special Features

Finally, compare the features of different fans you’re considering for your home. Energy-efficient models (look for one that is EnergyStar rated) not only use less power to operate, but they can also reduce your heating and cooling bills. In the summer, for instance, a fan can reduce the temperature by as much as eight degrees. Depending on your preferences, this can mean using less air conditioning, or not needing to turn the AC on at all, especially at night. In the winter, by changing the direction of the fan’s blades, you can more efficiently circulate warm air without cooling the room, allowing you to lower the thermostat.

That said, different fans have different airflow, and you may wish to install one that has greater airflow if you want to be sure to feel it. High airflow fans are especially useful in larger spaces where you might not feel as much of a breeze from a less powerful fan, including outdoors. If you aren’t as concerned about feeling the airflow, a model that doesn’t create as much of a breeze will meet your needs.

Choosing a ceiling fan that matches your decor and looks attractive in your home is important, but a fan that looks nice but doesn’t fit the technical requirements of the space will cause more problems than it solves. When you know what will work in the room, you can narrow down your choices, and select the perfect addition to the space.

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