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Choosing a Ceiling Fan

Shopping for a new ceiling fan is no easy task with the many choices available today

Choosing a new ceiling fan probably means a trip to your home improvement or lighting store. The aisles are filled with an array of fans in many sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. Amazingly, only a handful of companies produce this immense selection and most of the internal components are provided by even fewer manufacturers.

Fans are pretty simple in design. The blades, attached to the hub with "irons," turn by electric motor. Number of speeds will vary and many fans come with lights attached or with options of adding a kit. In fact, some companies feature all fans with optional kits so you have more design choices.

Fans are made with 3, 4, or 5 blades. The number does not affect the amount of breeze you'll feel, but more blades may mean less overall efficiency. The size and tilt of the blades are more important, however, as blades - tip-to-opposite-tip - run from 28 inches to 60 inches. The square footage of a room determines the size of fan you should purchase.

For instance, a 400 square foot room would require a 54-inch fan, while a larger room could possibly benefit from two fan placements.

Motor size is not as important as its rating. It should be labeled "performance grade" if you plan to run the fan continuously. Budget fans will have medium or economy grade motors that will operate at best efficiency in low-ceilinged rooms for only a few hours each day.

Look for UL listings on the box; if the fan is installed in a bathroom, kitchen, outdoors, or in any humid location, it would also be labeled with a "wet/damp" rating. Most manufacturers also have complied with ENERGY STAR recommendations, which will greatly increase efficiency.

Fan blade materials are usually solid, which is recommended as a better choice than the popular and stylish weaves. To actually push air into circulation, a solid surface will give greatest resistance.

Fans range in price from as little as ten dollars on sale to several hundred dollars. Most experts warn against lower-end models. Materials such as ball bearings will be of greatly reduced quality and the fan probably will not last very long. Lower grade materials and assembly may also add to wobble, swinging, and noise.

The mounting device is also important. Fan blades and lights should perch approximately 9 feet above the floor. If you have a low ceiling, a flush mount should be used, although the closer that blades are to the ceiling, the less airflow will be derived. Most packaged fans include a standard downrod, which can be extended from 3-5 inches from the ceiling. For higher ceilings, you will need an extended mount and for vaulted areas, you can purchase a sloped mount with extended downrod.

Overall, ceiling fans will create a savings in electrical usage all year long. Circulating air - downward in winter and upward in summer - reduces use of heating and cooling units, which also means less wear and tear.




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