What Does it Cost to Operate a Ceiling Fan?

Published by: Greg Tillotson
Webmaster for Hansen Wholesale
8/18/2010

It costs only three tenths of one cent per hour ($0.0022) to operate an energy efficient ceiling fan such as the Emerson Midway Eco (shown to the left) and about 3 to 5 times that for typical ceiling fans that are less efficient. Even the worst energy guzzling ceiling fans on the market will only cost you less than 2 cents per hour to run. These costs are virtually negligable, which explains why ceiling fans are such a great energy saving alternative to air conditioning.

Calculating the cost to operate a ceiling fan is a simply a matter of knowing how many watts the fan uses and multiplying that by the cost per kWh of electricity you are being charged by your utility company. This will give you the cost per hour to run the fan. The range of wattage between various brands and models of ceiling fans (without lights) is anywhere from 12 watts to 120 watts per hour. Based on that, here is how much it would cost to operate the most and least energy consuming ceiling fans on the market if either fan was left running 24 hours a day for an entire year. No one is likely ever to use their ceiling fan even remotely close to that many hours, but I am taking these calculations to an extreme just to show how cheap it is to run even the worst fan.

  • Fan #1 - Super Efficient Ceiling Fan at 18 Watts = $18.92 per year
  • Fan #2 - Average Ceiling Fan at 70 Watts = $73.58 per year
  • Fan #3 - More Powerful Ceiling Fan at 120 Watts = $126.14 per year

So, the most it can cost you to run a ceiling fan without lights is about $126 per year, which is equal to about $10 per month and the least it will cost you is $19 per year, which comes out to just $1 per month...which in either case, is amazingly cheap.

Ceiling Fans with Lights

The above calculations did not consider having a light fixture on the ceiling fan. The wattage of the light fixture can have a much greater impact on the cost than the motor. When calculating the cost to operate a fan with the lights on, you must add the wattage of the lights to that of the motor. The range of wattage for a ceiling fan light fixture is anywhere from 13 watts to 190 watts. FYI: Ceiling fans used to have up to 300 watts with a 5-light fixture using 60 watt bulbs, but the EPA began inforcing regulations that now limit the maximum wattage of the light to 190 watts. Here are the calculations if you leave you fan running with the lights on 24 hours a day for a full year:

  • Fan #4 - Super Efficient Ceiling Fan (Midway Eco 18 watts) with 52 Watt light = $73.58 per year
  • Fan #5 - Average Ceiling Fan (70 watts) with 160 Watt light = $241.78 per year
  • Fan #6 - More Powerful Ceiling Fan (120 watts) with 190 Watt light = $325.87 per year

The numbers for fan #4 above are those from the Emerson Midway Eco, which is the most efficient ENERGY STAR qualified ceilign fan on the market that comes with a light. The light fixture built-in to the Eco fan uses 4-13 watt Compact Fluorescent bulbs for just 52 Watts that is equivalent to over 100 watts of incandescent light. Add the 18 watts the fan motor uses for a total of 70 Watts. Fan #6 could be any number of less efficient ceiling fans with a light fixture that uses the maximim allowed wattage (190 watts).

So the conclusion I am hoping that you will make here is that the light fixture you choose for your ceiling fan is what will cost you the most in the long run. Keep in mind that these estimates above are for operating each ceiling fan 24 hours a day for 365 days...so you can cut those numbers by about 75% or more to come to a more realistic usage.

Ceiling Fan Operational Cost Calculator

Operational Cost Calculator

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