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Common Ceiling Fan Questions

How does a ceiling fan work?

Unlike other forms of cooling or heating you may have in your home, ceiling fans are not designed to lower or raise the temperature of a room. Instead, they circulate the air within a room, in such a way designed to make you feel cooler in summer, and warmer in winter.

During the warmer months of the year, your ceiling fan blades work to generate a breeze, which is pushed down toward you, creating a “wind chill” effect on the skin causing you to feel cooler.

During the winter months, most fans are designed so that the direction of blade spin can be reversed. Instead of pushing air directly down toward you, the blades will pull warm air down from the ceiling, and push it down the walls of your room. We know that warm air tends to rise, so rather than having air directly hitting you, your fan will redistribute warm air from the ceiling to provide an overall feeling of warmth in the room.

How Does a Ceiling Fan Work?

What is airflow?

Airflow refers to the volume of air a fan is able to move around a room. This volume of air is measured in cubic metres per hour, or CM/H, and is designed to provide an idea of your fan’s performance. This is not to be confused with wind speed. Wind speed, or velocity, works to create that wind chill effect directly under the fan, whereas, airflow is a measure of the volume of air that your fan is capable of moving.

How is the size of a ceiling fan determined?

A fan’s size is given as the diameter of the ceiling fan from the tip of one fan blade to the tip of the opposite blade. This is referred to as the fan’s blade span.

Generally, we refer to blade span in inches, and generally, the greater the blade span, the greater the volume of airflow.

Size of a Ceiling Fan

Which is better, 3, 4 or 5 blade ceiling fans?

Because fans differ in so many ways, it is very difficult to tell how effective they are by counting their blades. Some high airflow fans have three blades, some have two, and some have more. A better indicator of your fan’s performance is to look at airflow, however, if you need to choose between a 3 blade fan and a 4 blade fan, both with similar specs, choose based on design, which looks better to your own eye?

For a more detailed look at the number of fan blades, see our blog post Ceiling Fan Blades – 3,4 or 5?

How Many Ceiling Fan Blades?

What blade material should I choose for my ceiling fan?

There are three commonly used blade materials – plastic or ABS polymer, timber and metal.

The biggest concern when it comes to blade material tends to be noise. Ceiling fans with timber or plastic blades tend to be slightly quieter than their metal counterparts as they cut through the air. Much like the number of blades you choose, your choice of blade material will come down to personal preference, rather than one performing better than the other. For a more detailed look at blade type, see our blog post Selecting Ceiling Fan Blade Type – Things to Know.

Which is best – AC or DC motor?

When we refer to AC or DC, we are referring to the way current flows within a circuit to generate power. Alternating Current (AC), simply means that the current flows in alternating directions, back and forth. Direct Current (DC), as its name suggests, refers to current that flows in a single direction. While we could go into a lot of technical detail about the differences between AC and DC, what we really want to know is what this means for your ceiling fan.

In any ceiling fan, a force needs to be generated that is strong enough to rotate the rotor, and push the fan blades. In a ceiling fan with an AC motor, this force is generated directly from the power source. In a fan with a DC motor, the power source connects to a transformer, which converts the AC power to DC, and then uses magnets to create the force needed to rotate the motor’s rotor.

Both AC ceiling fans and DC ceiling fans require the same force to rotate the motor’s rotor, and push the blades. The resulting difference between the two, however, is the amount of energy required directly from the power source to do this.

DC ceiling fans tend to do this more efficiently. In fact, they can consume up to 70% less energy than their AC counterparts, and so tend to be the preferred choice for most consumers. DC fans, do however, tend to cost more than AC fans.

To read more about the differences between AC and DC ceiling fans, visit our blog
Pros and Cons of AC and DC Ceiling Fans.

What does reversible mean?

By generating “wind”, ceiling fans are a super effective way of helping to make you feel cooler in Summer, but they are also an effective way of keeping your home warmer in Winter. By changing the direction of the blades, or “reversing’ their direction, warm air is pushed down from the ceiling and redistributed throughout your room in Winter.

Reversible Ceiling Fan

What is blade pitch?

The blade pitch of a ceiling fan is the angle (measured in degrees) at which the blades are set relative to the fan’s base. The pitch of the blade is what allows your ceiling fan to “pick up” the air. Generally, the greater the blade pitch, the more efficiently your ceiling fan can move air. A commonly accepted ideal blade pitch is between 12 -15 degrees.

Do I need a light?

Ceiling fans with lights are very functional and are commonly used when you are replacing the central light with a fan. They are a great solution for dual purpose, air circulation as well as maintaining a light. LED ceiling fans have many advantage points when compared with a standard bulb. They are often not as bulky in their appearance, and if you wish for the light not to be the focal point of the fan then this is a great option, especially if you have a low ceiling.

Ceiling Fan with Light

What’s the best material for an outdoor fan?

When looking to purchase an outdoor fan you need a material that can withstand the Australian climate and the ever changing weather conditions. Below are a few points to take into consideration when choosing your outdoor ceiling fan;

  • Will the fan be installed in a location that is completely undercover? Look for fans that are rated to be used in undercover outdoor locations.
  • Will the fan be installed at a coastal location? Salt air is a key factor in making a fan rust. Choosing a fan with a coastal rating will be the best option. Plastic is the most common blade material for this scenario.
  • Will the fan be installed in an open area, with a high humidity in the summer months? Perhaps choosing a fan which is wet rated will be the best option here.

To discover answers to other common ceiling fan questions, download our . It’s everything you need to know to select the right ceiling fans for your home! Or, speak with one of the ceiling fan experts from Rovert Lighting & Electrical.

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