What is the purpose of a ceiling fan?
A ceiling fan serves two purposes
- To provide a breeze thereby creating the "wind chill factor"
- To circulate the air throughout a room or area
Most people who purchase a ceiling fan do so to utilize the first option. You expect to turn on the fan and feel a breeze, or at least some moving air. This is most effective with the fan in downdraft mode on a medium or high speed. While you will feel the strongest breeze directly under the fan, if the fan is good quality, and the proper size and installation for the room, you should be able to feel air circulating no matter where you are in the room.
Circulation is perhaps the most effective (as well as underrated) use of a ceiling fan. Regardless of the room temperature, the warmer air rises to the ceiling, and the cold air sinks to the floor. Depending on where your heat (and/or cooling) source is located, there are also hot and cold spots both in a room and building. By evenly circulating the air throughout a room, a series of rooms, or even an entire building, ceiling fans can eliminate these hot and cold spots and provide a much more comfortable climate. More on this in the sections below.
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II. How do ceiling fans lower the temperature?
They don't, at least not literally. Unlike an air conditioner, ceiling fans do not directly affect the air temperature. That does not mean, however, that ceiling fans are not effective in cooling.
As pertaining to the two purposes listed in question (I):
- The moving air from a ceiling fan will help you feel cooler regardless of the temperature of a room. It is much the same as being outside in the summer— it can be 80-90 degrees, and if there is a breeze, it is very pleasant. But on a day with no wind it may be painful to be outside. Standing under a ceiling fan you may feel a strong breeze, and receive the direct benefit of the fan operating. The moving air throughout the room allows you to feel cooler even if you are not directly in the path of the fan.
- Also, the circulation from a ceiling fan can disperse the cool air from lower areas (and air conditioning) into the central, inhabited areas of a room. Cool air sinking to the floor isn't useful in the summer unless you're laying down on the floor, and often times the air conditioning vent in a room will be off to one side. Split level rooms or houses will often have temperature discrepancies. Ceiling fans circulate the air, evening out these cold spots. In the summer this can often make the useable parts of a room much cooler, in conjunction with air conditioning or alone.
IIa. How do ceiling fans help heat in the winter?
Much the same as they help with cooling in section 2. Running your heat in the winter, hot air rises to the ceiling, and so much of the heat is wasted. Especially if you heat with a wood stove or similar and the heat is not evenly dispersed by vents near the floor. Vaulted ceilings are particularly troublesome. Running a ceiling fan during the winter, to push down warm air from the ceiling and eliminate cold spots, can save a great deal of heating energy. Additional note: there are some designs of fans with heaters included, we have a section on these.
IIb. How can the same fan help both in the winter AND summer?
If it can make it feel warmer in the winter, why does it not do so in the summer? And how does it not make it feel colder in the winter?
Well, for starters, you are likely running your heat in the winter and not in the summer. The primary source of heat that the fan circulates in the winter is that produced by your furnace. And, in the summer, if you use an air conditioner, that provides the cool air source.
Secondly, it depends on the setting on which you use your fan. High and sometimes medium speeds will create a detectable breeze that will make those in the area feel cooler. It will also, in most cases, create a strong circulation force that will reach the cool air closest to the ground. Lower speeds often do not create a noticeable draft, and often the circulation only reaches between the higher, heat-trapped areas and living areas, not entirely encompassing the cooler air lowest to the ground. The reverse feature is also used to create different circulation patterns for winter. What rooms should have ceiling fans installed?
The short answer: EVERY room. Depending on your personal preferences, any and every room can benefit from a ceiling fan installed.
Recall the two purposes:
- Any room in which people are present can benefit from the cooling breeze of a ceiling fan
- Any room large enough to fit a fan can benefit from the circulation, particularly if it is in a central location.
Let us examine some rooms:
Living room: One of the most common locations. Often a room in which people relax, the breeze from a ceiling fan can be very much enjoyed. Also living rooms are usually large, centrally located, and sometimes have high or vaulted ceilings, all of which are important factors benefiting from the added circulation.
Bedrooms: Many people enjoy the cooling breeze as they sleep, particularly in the warm summer months. The white noise from air moving can also be relaxing. It is uncomfortable for some to sleep in a still, stuffy room, and use a ceiling fan year round on various speeds.
Kitchen: The kitchen is often the hottest, stuffiest room in the house, especially while cooking. A ceiling fan can disperse the hot air and cooking smells and provide a breeze for the comfort of those cooking. During the winter, distribute the heat generated by cooking throughout surrounding areas to save energy.
Dining room: Use low speeds to gently circulate the warm air from set food without cooling it, adding to the comfort of diners. Also most fans offer elegant chandelier options which are very fitting over a dining room table.
Porch: Surprisingly, fans are very effective when used on covered porches. This allows a breeze to be felt even on days with no wind. Also, the air current from a fan can be effective in driving away bugs.
Foyer/Entry: Prevent cooled/heated air from escaping outside when the front door is opening by positioning a fan over the door and running it on high or medium. The current from the fan creates an "air curtain" that can help alleviate drafts. Prior to modern HVAC, many grocery stores and similar businesses positioned ceiling fans over doors, to prevent heat from escaping, bugs from getting in, and also to blanket customers with a cool breeze as they entered. If you feel a breeze as you enter you may feel instantly cooler regardless of the inside temperature. Lastly, many foyers also have a stairwell, which brings us to
Open Stairways (and balconies): One of the most effective places to use a ceiling fan for circulation. Many 2 (or more) story or split-level homes often suffer from upper floors being much warmer than lower floors. This is predicable, as heat rises. By placing ceiling fans in areas where floors connect and running them consistently you can create circulation between the floors that will more evenly distribute heat and cooling.
Garage/Workshop: Help circulate heat in colder months. Disperse fumes and sawdust. And, of course, a cool breeze while you are working.
Bathroom: Prevent moisture and condensation from settling. Increase comfort for those more prolonged stays. See the outdoor fans section section for what sort of fan to use, as showers create moisture it is recommended to use the same sort of fan as an outdoor setting.
In summarization . . . the more time people spend in a given room, the greater the benefit of a ceiling fan. For circulation, especially large rooms, and/or those with high and/or vaulted ceilings. People will have their preferences on where they most prefer the benefits, but ultimately any room is a good idea.
Hi Amp Electric provides ceiling fan installations in these areas
South King County, Pierce County, Thurston County, Mason County,
Lewis County, Seattle, SeaTac, Burien, Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, Covington, Sumner, Pacific, Gig Harbor
Algona, Maple Vally, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, Bonney Lake, Orting, Buckley, Ruston, Milton, Fife, Puyallup, Eatonville,
Lake Tapps, Edgewood, Des Moines, Renton, Tukwila
Elbe, Ashford, Morton, Steilacoom, DuPont, Lakewood, University Place, Tacoma, Parkland, Spanaway,
Graham, Roy, Mckenna,
Yelm, Nisqually, Rainier, Tenino, Bucoda, Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Shelton, Centralia, Chehalis.