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, ceiling fans are available in a variety of styles to match the decor of your home.
Fans come in all shapes and sizes: with or without a lighting fixture, and with three, four, five or even six blades. Learn about the criteria you should consider before making an informed decision.
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?
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.
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 will develop noise over time due to dust contamination that produces squeaking noises and also affects the fan’s balance. A motor equipped with a ball-bearing drive reduces friction, making it quieter.
Pitch is the angle of the blade in relation to the motor, and the greater the pitch, the greater the movement of air volume. Blade angles vary between 6° and 16°, with 13° being the average.
There are 3, 4, 5 and even 6-blade models. Paradoxically, the number of blades on a fan has nothing to do with efficiency, making it a matter of personal taste rather than a decision of performance. Blade design and motor speed determine the fan’s performance.
To choose the appropriate fan, measure the room where the fan will be installed and calculate the total area. The larger the room, the longer the blades should be. Thus, for a 100 sq. ft. room, choose a fan 36" in diameter; if the room is 150 sq.ft., choose a fan 42" in diameter. And for a 300 sq.ft. room, you should install a fan between 48" and 52" in diameter.
It is also possible to install a number of small fans instead of one large fan in a very large room, such as a loft. Both options are equally effective, so it is a matter of personal taste.
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
Even though the most popular colours for fans are black and white, wood finishes or even metallic finishes are quite common. 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, 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 the blades, which makes them easier to keep clean. They are also recommended for damp areas such as greenhouses, gazebos or even basements.
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. When the ceiling is 9', install a 12" shaft; when the ceiling is higher, a longer shaft should be used.
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.
Installing a fan is fairly straightforward, not expensive and doesn’t require specialized tools. Before installing a fan, generally in the middle of the room, 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. Some fans require 18" to 24" clearance between the blades and the ceiling.
It is extremely important to install the fan securely since 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, 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.
Note that the Canadian Electrical Code stipulates that you may not install a ceiling fan to standard mounting brackets for a standard lighting fixture housing.
When a few weeks have passed after you’ve installed a ceiling fan, we strongly recommend you inspect the screws securing the fan to the ceiling as well as the screws that attach the blades to the fan body. Tighten screws if necessary. Do a similar check at least once or twice a year. Always be sure you’ve turned off the electrical power supply before you carry out maintenance work.
The blades of the fan can be cleaned with a soft cloth. Use a vacuum cleaner for less accessible parts of the fan. Never use oil on any part 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.
Regular maintenance will prolong the life of your fan and ensure that it operates smoothly.
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