A Guide to Stainless Steel Outdoor Ceiling Fans

Updated May 2021

Many people buy inexpensive outdoor ceiling fans from big box stores hoping to save some money. However, they often end up replacing the fixture within a few years, after the fan breaks down or wears out. Fortunately, by understanding why low-quality options aren’t worthwhile and what to look for in a stainless steel outdoor fan, you can purchase a beautiful model that lasts.

The Benefits of Outdoor Ceiling Fans

Cooling Effect

While air conditioning will do next to nothing outside, an outdoor ceiling fan with a high wind speed will keep you cool during the spring and summer. Plus, larger outdoor fans are highly efficient, so you’ll spend very little on energy costs.

Pest Control 

An outdoor fan will keep pests away, including bugs. The extra wind will provide an area that’s difficult for insects to fly through, adding comfort and coziness to your outdoor space. The more wind the fan creates, the fewer bugs you’ll have under the fan.


Ceiling fans for outdoor use come in a variety of styles, hues, materials, and sizes, so you can easily match a model to your outdoor furniture, decor, and environment. Additionally, you can choose between a damp-rated and wet-rated fan. The former is meant for covered spaces, while the latter can withstand rain, snow, and heavy storms. If you aren’t sure whether to choose a damp- or wet-rated fan, always go with the latter, because you won’t have to worry about water splashing on it, and you can wash it off with a hose.


In addition to the cooling effect, many outdoor fans come with a light fixture, providing visibility at night. Some options even have a dimmer, so you can set the mood and create an inviting atmosphere for your guests.

The Biggest Issues When Buying an Outdoor Ceiling Fan of Lower Quality 

Outdoor ceiling fans from the big chain stores are prone to discolor. Even worse, the blade arms weather poorly and may eventually snap off.

Veneer blades fill with water, and then they sag and droop, causing them to work ineffectively. They also won’t look right over time, and with cheap metal alloys, they rust or discolor. Buying a $200 or $300 fan every few years starts to add up, so you want to get a quality option the first time. 

Additionally, low-quality options may move very little air and generally aren’t as energy-efficient, so you’ll miss out on significant savings over time. On top of that, the fixture will be more prone to wobbling due to the blades and parts wearing down. Finally, low-quality fans are often noisy because the connections can loosen easily, causing the loose parts to clank.

What to Look for in an Outdoor Ceiling Fan

Wind Speed

In outdoor locations, the air is not in a confined area where it bounces off walls like it does indoors, so it’s crucial to buy a fan that creates a strong enough breeze to cool you off. Look for fans with a wind speed factor of at least 3.5 to 4 MPH for the best cooling effect. Fans with less wind speed are almost of no value outdoors.


The best material for an outdoor ceiling fan is marine-grade stainless steel. The Matthews Fan Donaire, for example, comes in this material. It’ll last for many years in even the harshest environments, and it’ll resist rust. It also comes with a 3-speed remote and an AC motor, so it’s highly energy-efficient. Additionally, it runs smoothly without wobbling or making much noise. Finally, it has a wind speed factor of 3.8 MPH and an airflow rate of 6,573 CFM, so you can expect the fan to keep you cool on even the hottest days.

Covered patio with marine grade stainless steel ceiling fan

The Matthews Atlas Donaire in 316 Marine Grade Brushed Stainless Steel

If stainless steel isn’t within your budget, look for a wet-rated fan, like the all-new Minka Aire Concept III, which has a UV-protective coating and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) blades that can handle extreme weather. This fan also comes with a 6-speed remote, highly efficient DC motor, and LED lights.

Black weather resistant outdoor ceiling fan with light

The Minka Aire Concept III With Coal-Colored ABS UV Weather Resistant Plastic Blades


Picking the right size ceiling fan depends on the square footage of the outdoor space. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Spaces that are 75 square feet or less: 29- to 36-inch fan
  • Spaces that are 76 to 145 square feet: 36- to 42-inch fan
  • Spaces that are 146 to 226 square feet: 44-inch fan
  • Space that are 227 to 400 square feet: 50- to 54-inch fan

You can also use our Ceiling Fan Size Calculator to determine the correct sizing.


If your deck, patio, or porch feels dark at night, choose an outdoor fan with lights. Go with an option that can use LED lights, as they’re low-maintenance and energy-efficient. Also, choose a fixture that comes with a remote control so you can easily turn the lights on and off and adjust the brightness.

Aesthetics & Color

There are thousands of outdoor ceiling fans on the market, with styles ranging from retro or traditional to ultra-modern. Choosing the right style will tie together the design of your outdoor space and create a warm and welcoming feel. Some popular themes to consider include rustic, contemporary, tropical, cottage-style, and industrial.

If you want the fan to match the ceiling, pick a solid hue that will complement, blend, or contrast the ceiling color. Choose a bold hue if you’re looking for something that will stand out and make a statement.

Environmental Factors

In addition to moisture, an outdoor ceiling fan should be able to handle other environmental factors in your area, such as salty air or wind. For example, if you live in a location with heavy storms, choose a ceiling fan that’s built for high-wind conditions. In particular, unibody fixtures have hefty blades and no blade holders, so the parts won’t fall off or sway during hurricanes or rainstorms.

If you plan to install a fan in a spot with salty air, such as a boat or beachside cabana, pick a model that’s designed for salt-air locations. It’ll feature marine-grade stainless steel, which won’t rust or corrode in salty conditions.

If you’re looking to purchase a stainless steel outdoor ceiling fan, reach out to our team at (800) 201-1193. One of our specialists will help you with every aspect of the decision process, from choosing a size to matching your outdoor space.

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