If you’re in the market for an industrial ceiling fan, then you probably love the rugged, functional look of industrial home décor. This popular design style is marked by its use of raw materials, exposed hardware and explicit functionality, taking cues from equipment, lighting and more from old warehouses and factories. Despite the fact that industrial style ceiling fans look like they belong in industrial spaces, they’re made for residential use and are therefore efficient, stylish and relatively affordable. Most residential buyers prefer to use industrial fans that are made to look industrial but perform like your standard residential styles, saving money on operation and maintenance costs.
It’s important to note that true industrial ceiling fans do indeed differ from residential ones—you often shouldn’t install a commercial ceiling fan in a residential locale and vice versa. Here, we’ll cover why that is and all other industrial style fan facets to help you make the best possible fan purchase for your needs. Considerations like size, power, cubic feet per minute (CFM), budget and style should play into which fan you pick for your space, regardless of your particular design preferences.
INDUSTRIAL VS. INDUSTRIAL-STYLE CEILING FANS
The main difference between an industrial-grade ceiling fan and an “industrial style” fan is the speed at which the fan spins (RPM) and the material and thickness of the blades. Most industrial fans have thin metal blades that spin at a very high speed (over 500 RPM) while a typical residential fan has thicker wood or plastic blades that spin no faster than 230 RPM. If someone inadvertently puts their hand into an industrial fan while it is operating on high speed, it is likely they would end up in an emergency room with a doctor trying to reattach a limb. Do the same to a residential rated fan and at worst you will end up a bit bruised. Safety codes require industrial fans to be installed where the blades are no closer than 10 feet from the floor. So, although you can install an industrial fan in a residential application, you probably don’t need that much airflow and you can only do it if the ceiling is higher than 11 feet.
With that being said, there is some good news for those of us who love the industrial look but don’t need industrial performance. A handful of the best fan manufacturers now make industrial-inspired ceiling fans featuring cages, exposed hardware, aged finishes and looks that say pure utility. If it’s the industrial aesthetic you’re after, we’d recommend picking up a residential fan done in the industrial style.
THINKING ABOUT CEILING HEIGHT
As you can tell, ceiling height plays a major role in purchasing industrial-style ceiling fans. That’s because true industrial fans spin at high velocities and are heavier than average, so they need more room for safe installation. However, there are industrial-looking ceiling fans for residential use that also require 10 foot or higher ceilings. There are also some residential industrial fans that don’t operate at high speeds and therefore can be installed in rooms with lower ceilings. The Emerson Loft ceiling fans are a good example of a larger fan that can be installed in rooms with normal residential ceiling heights.
CAN YOU INSTALL HVLS FANS IN HOMES?
To simplify the purchasing process, many industrial ceiling fan manufacturers now make what are called high-volume, low-speed or HVLS ceiling fans. This kind of fan is usually pretty large, over seven feet in diameter, and relies on its size rather than its speed to cool down the environment. In other words, these types of fans are large but slow. However, they create a convection-like air current that eliminates hot, humid air in favor of cooler, drier air. Large ceiling fans like this are mostly relegated to massive warehouses, factories and barns, but the look can be replicated in smaller residential spaces.
The compromises for this kind of performance are cost and weight. HVLS fans are often too heavy and too expensive to be installed in residential environments.
But if you like the look of these kinds of fans but don’t need the performance, there’s some good news. Manufacturers have started making residential fans that mimic the aesthetic of HVLS fans though they are not truly HVLS fans. These fans are also popular for those who love the ultra-trendy style of large ceiling fans. In short, you probably can’t install a true HVLS fan in your home, but you can install one that looks similar but is made for home use.
INTEGRATING INDUSTRIAL FANS INTO YOUR DÉCOR
If you love the cool, utilitarian aesthetic of industrial ceiling fans but don’t necessarily need the big power, speed or blade span, then you’re in luck! Many of the top fan manufacturers make what are called industrial-style or industrial-inspired ceiling fans. In some cases, these fans are industrial in look only and have no higher performance features. In other cases, they are suitable for commercial spaces but are also affordably priced so they can be installed in homes and less demanding environments.
These brands make some of the more popular industrial-style ceiling fans: Craftmade, Emerson, Hunter, Fanimation, Monte Carlo, Casablanca, Matthews Fan Co. and Savoy House. All of these makers produce beautiful varieties that work well in spaces such as converted living warehouses and high-ceiling lofts to complement urban, utilitarian, vintage, eclectic, artsy, rustic and steampunk design styles. We’ve also begun to see many single-head fans (cage fans)—such as the beautifully industrial Matthews Fan Co. Jarold Fan—worked into these décor styles.
PERFORMANCE MATTERS, TOO
One caveat about buying industrial-style ceiling fans: Remember that while aesthetic is higher on the list in residential environments, performance matters, too. Use our fan breeze ratings, reviews and recommendations to find a stylish fan that’s also made to perform. It’s important that you never choose a fan only because of the way it looks! With so many options on the market, you can find a ceiling fan that meets your aesthetic and performance requirements.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIZE
With industrial-style ceiling fans, size is everything! The bigger the blades and motor, the more airflow and the more your fan looks like it came straight out of that cool, old warehouse. However, it’s important that you don’t only consider the blade span. Other factors such as CFM, RPM and wind speed factor are equally as important.
Industrial fans range in size from 52 inches to 100-plus inches, with most styles 60 inches or larger classified as industrial. In airports and large shopping centers, it’s not uncommon to see fans that are between 12 and 24 feet in diameter! Using a ceiling fan size calculator can help you determine exactly what size fan you need, but there are a few sizing rules you can follow to make sure you pick the right version for your needs. As a rule of thumb, the room should be about five times larger than the diameter of the fan.
WHAT ABOUT CFM AND WIND SPEED FACTOR?
Short for cubic feet per minute, CFM is a good indicator of a ceiling fan’s airflow. How do you know the CFM? Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires manufacturers to provide consumers with information on CFM, so you’ll be able to see from a fan’s specs how well it cools. For industrial fans, it’s best to shoot for a CFM of between 7,000 and 11,000, but the higher the better!
CFM shouldn’t be measured for performance on its own and shouldn’t be used when comparing fans of different blade spans. To get a better idea of a fan’s performance, consider the wind speed factor—the measure of how fast the air is moving (in MPH) and creating a wind chill. This exclusive Hansen tool is the only online tool that lets you compare the actual potential cooling effect of different fans, even if they have different diameters. A wind speed of 4 MPH is excellent in warm residential areas, and the higher the MPH the better for bigger spaces.
Still not sure which size industrial ceiling fan is right for your home? Talking with a professional ceiling fan expert is the simplest way to help you determine the best size fan for your environment. Always partner with a reliable retailer like Hansen Wholesale so that you have access to custom, one-on-one advice for your fan purchase.
THE BEST INDUSTRIAL CEILING FANS FOR HOMES
As industry pioneers and dedicated fan experts, Hansen Wholesale is primarily concerned with helping to pair our customers with the ideal products for their space, needs, budget and preferences. With that in mind, there is no way to choose the best industrial-style ceiling fan for most spaces, but these are the ones that we find ourselves most often recommending.
- The Craftmade Mondo is always a popular pick for residential buyers who appreciate efficiency and style. It measures 72 inches in blade span and has an efficient DC motor to provide excellent performance without drawing a ton of energy. We’ve given this fan high ratings for its quality and efficiency.
- The Fanimation Odyn is a massive ceiling fan done in the style of the HVLS fans. Measuring over 84 inches, this fan looks commanding and industrial but is actually specifically designed for residential use and therefore brings easy installation and efficiency. It’s also one of our most popular large ceiling fans.
- The Emerson Loft is a popular choice for those residential buyers who like the industrial look but are not married to the idea of a huge fan. Measuring 60 inches, the Loft fan is specifically designed to bring the contemporary industrial fan look to residential spaces. It also has some nice performance features such as four-speed wall control and a design that can be installed both indoors and out.
STILL NEED HELP? HANSEN IS ON IT
Every buyer is different. You may be a creative interior designer searching for truly commanding utilitarian styles for residential use or you may be a warehouse manager completely focused on performance, and performance only. While it’s a great idea to get acquainted with fan styles and terminology, the absolute best way to find a fan that’s tailor-made for you and your space is to talk to the experts. Simply call us up and provide us with a bit of information on your ceiling fan or lighting needs and we’ll provide you with an expert ID so that you can easily see our recommendations. Call us today to get started!