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Choosing a ceiling fan

Ceiling fans are ideal for keeping a room cool during the summer and for circulating warm air in the winter. Practical in the bedroom, living room, and kitchen, they are available in a variety of styles to match the decor of your home.

Fans come in all shapes and sizes, as well as with or without a lighting fixture. They can have three, four, five, or even six blades. Find out what criteria you should consider before making an informed decision.

Right ceiling fan for your needs

UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS
  • What ceiling fan diameter would be best?
  • How long should the shaft be?
  • What is the area of the room where the fan will be installed?
  • What design style do I want: contemporary, Victorian, classic, Art Deco, other?

Ceiling fan terminology, parts, and features

A ceiling fan includes a motor (preferably sealed) and blades of varied lengths. It should not be confused with an exhaust fan which is generally installed in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.

Motor

Good-quality fans have sealed motors. The best motors are sealed with zinc, a metal which naturally absorbs vibrations. An unsealed motor may be noise-free when you first install it, but it can develop noise over time due to dust contamination. This will produce squeaking sound and affect the fan’s balance as well. A motor equipped with a ball-bearing drive reduces friction, making it even quieter.

Blades

The angle of the blade in relation to the motor is known as the pitch. The greater the pitch, the greater the movement of air volume. Blade angles vary between 6° and 16°, with 13° being average.

There are 3, 4, 5 and even 6-blade fan models. The number of blades on a fan has nothing to do with efficiency, making it a matter of preference rather than a decision of performance. A fan's performance is determined by blade design and motor speed.

To choose the appropriate fan size, measure the room where the fan will be installed and calculate the total area. The larger the room, the longer the blades should be. As a general rule of thumb, a 36" fan is well suited to a 100 sq. ft. room, a 42" fan to a 150 sq. ft. room, and a 48" to 52" fan to a 300 sq. ft. room.

Shaft

There should be at least 7' between the fan and the floor. For a standard 7' to 8' ceiling, install the fan on the 4" shaft supplied with the unit. If the ceiling is 9', then install a 12" shaft. If the ceiling is higher, an extension rod should be used.

Lighting

Some fan models include an integrated light fixture with one, two, or three light bulbs. Combining both functions in one unit can be very practical. Shades can be clear or frosted glass. The intensity of the light can also be adjusted.

Controls

The fan’s controls allow you to set the rotation and speed of the blades, as well as the lighting if the fan is equipped with a light fixture.

Ceiling fans can be activated in three different ways.

  • Pull chain attached to the motor: fan models have one, two, or three pull chains. Installation is very simple.
  • Switch: a wall switch is connected to the fan. This installation is relatively simple, but an electrical connection needs to be made.
  • Remote control: fans activated by remote control tend to look more streamlined.

Blade direction and speed

Depending on the model, the number of speeds varies between two on basic units (high and low) and three or even four speeds on high-end models.

In summer, blades should rotate in a clockwise direction, pushing the air downwards and generating a cool breeze. Fans can also be combined with an air conditioner to spread cooled air more effectively in the room.

During the winter when the room is heated, blades should be set to rotate counter clockwise, pushing the warm air accumulating up against the ceiling back down along the walls to ground level. The circulation of air evens out room temperature and keeps the room warmer.

Colours and Finishes

Black and white are the most popular colours for ceiling fans, but wood finishes or even metallic finishes are quite common as well. Many other colours, textures, and shapes are possible and readily available. If you are considering a fan with an imitation gold, chrome, or brushed chrome finish, then make sure the finish harmonizes with your existing light fixtures and door handles. Painting your fan blades is also an option.

Lacquered blades are suitable for ceiling fans in the kitchen. Cooking grease does not stick to these blades, which makes them easier to keep clean. They are also recommended for damp areas such as greenhouses, gazebos, or even basements.

Pro tip

Rather than installing one large fan in a very large room, you can install a number of small fans instead. Both options are equally effective at circulating the air, so it is a matter of personal taste.

Ceiling fan installation

According to the Canadian Electrical Code, only professional electricians can complete electrical installations. Consider hiring a professional from RONA if needed.

Installing a fan is fairly straightforward, inexpensive, and doesn’t require any specialized tools. Before installing a fan, you need to ensure that there is at least 7’ between the fan blades and the floor and one foot between the blades and the ceiling. Note that some fans require 18" to 24" clearance between the blades and the ceiling. Fans are generally installed in the middle of the room for effective operation.

It is extremely important to install the fan securely, as it will be subject to vibration. You may need to adjust the ceiling fan blades with weights. If the location you’ve chosen to install the fan is not solid enough, then install an adjustable support between two ceiling joists.

Once the fan has been secured in place, make sure the electrical wires for the fan and integrated light fixture are connected properly. A wall switch activating the fan can be added during installation, as can a remote control module.

Ceiling fan maintenance

In order for your ceiling fan to work properly, you must do a regular checkup. Here are a few things to look out for:

Maintenance

  • Always be sure you’ve turned off the electrical power supply before you carry out maintenance work.
  • Inspect the screws securing the fan to the ceiling as well as the screws attaching the blades to the fan body. Tighten screws if necessary.
  • Clean the blades of the fan with a soft cloth. Never use oil on any part of the ceiling fan.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner for less accessible parts of the fan.
  • If the fan is equipped with an integrated light fixture, replace the light bulbs when necessary and clean the shade, if you have one, at the same time. 

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