This page is meant to answer some basic questions about choosing the right ceiling fan size and downrod length. If you have more questions about Who Makes the Best Ceiling Fans or what fan to choose for your application, please read our Ceiling Fan Buyers Guide Here!
How to choose the right size ceiling fan
If you are having a hard time deciding what size ceiling fan you need, you are not alone. There is a lot of conflicting information about this all over the Internet and the so called rules have changed dramatically over the last few years with the insurgence of a wider selection of ceiling fan sizes for use in residential applications. In the past, there were pretty much just 3 sizes: 42", 48" and 52" the most popular of which was the 52" fan. Now, manufacturers are making residential ceiling fans that are 60", 72", 84" and even 99" and the most popular size is now 60". The trend is toward using larger fans in smaller spaces. So in our opinion, most of the ceiling fan size charts you find online are very much outdated, including the chart published by the EPA on the EnergyStar.gov Website. Below is our very own ceiling fan size recommendation chart that comes from our over 30 years of experience selling and installing ceiling fans.
Why is Bigger Better?
From a performance standpoint, the majority of the breeze you are going to feel from a ceiling fan is directly beneath and within the space about 2 feet past the blades. The direct airflow and wind-chill cooling effect diminishes greatly right outside that area. For this reason, the size of the fan you choose is very important in order to actually feel the breeze where you need it. If the fan is going to be positioned directly over the area that needs to be cooled, a smaller size fan that is proportional to the room is quite appropriate. If the fan is not directly over the area where you will be spending time in the room, use a larger size fan that gets the blade tips as close as possible to that area. Whether or not a fan "looks" too large is a matter of personal preference. Technically, as long as the blades are at least 30" from the nearest wall, there is no reason you cannot install a fan that is quite large in the space. The trend from ceiling fan manufacturers today is BIG and there are a lot of fans now that are over 60" because fans simply cover more space when they are larger.
Is Higher CFM Better?
Although higher CFM (cubic feet per minute of airflow) is normally a good thing to consider, you must also make sure you consider how it correlates to blade span. Many people assume that a very large fan, say 72" to 96" that produces 10,000 CFM is going to cool them off better than a smaller fan, which is not likely the case. CFM is only the amount of air that is displaced, it is not a measure of how fast the air is moving, which is called wind speed. Wind speed is what actually creates the breeze or wind-chill effect that makes you feel cooler. Just because larger fans spread a larger amount of air over a larger area does not mean the move the air faster, it only means the move more air and the actual wind speed may be lower than you think. For example, you will feel a much stronger breeze from a 52" fan that produces 7,000 CFM than you will from a 96" fan that has the same CFM. that's because the smaller fan is moving the same amount of air in a more concentrated area at a much higher speed. The larger fan is moving that air over a larger area at a slower overall speed. To to make sure you are not disappointed, we are the only be sure to compare our "Wind Speed Factor" between larger and smaller fans so you have a better idea how much breeze you will actually feel. Wind speed factor is our own exclusive calculation that is a relation between CFM and blade span. In most cases, two smaller fans with a higher "Wind Speed Factor" will outperform one very large fan. If you cannot install two fans, choose the largest fan you can tolerate visually with the highest "Wind Speed Factor". A good amount of wind speed would be 3.5 to 4 MPH or more.
How Long of a Downrod Do I need?
Building codes require that any residential ceiling fan should be installed where the blades are at least 7 feet from the floor. This height is not only important for safety, but it is also important for maximum performance. The closer you are to the fan, the stronger the breeze will be. So for performance, it is best to drop your fan down to the lowest allowable height (84"). That being said, in rooms with very high ceilings, you may not want your fan hanging down that far visually, in which case you will have to make a compromise in the performance if you don't want the fan down that low. There is no rule for what that compromise is, but we say to figure a loss of about 10% in performance for every 1 foot above 84" you hang the fan. This is just a guess...but it may help you realize why you are not feeling much breeze if you did not hang your fan low enough.
Most ceiling fans come with a downrod (or two) that will allow you to hang the fan from a ceiling that is 8 or 9 feet high. Some fans will even include a flush mount option with the hardware that you can use if your ceiling is lower than 8 feet. In cases where your ceiling is exceptionally high (over 15 feet), you may be able to drop the fan down even more than 84" by joining two downrods together using what is called a downrod coupler. These are only available from certain brands and limited to certain types of downrods, so you will want to call us if you have a really high ceiling so we can walk you through which fans have this option.
What If I Have and Angled Ceiling?
Hanging your fan from an angled ceiling is not normally an issue. Most fans come with a ball hanger system that will allow you to hang your fan on a flat ceiling or ceiling that is angled up to 20 degrees or more depending on the brand (we can help you with that). However, if you do have an angled ceiling, you are going to want to make sure you use an appropriate downrod that allows the blades to clear the ceiling. You may need to do a little math to figure this out in some cases based on how far the blades normally are from the ceiling and the blade span of the fan and the angle of the ceiling. For cases where the ceiling is steeper than the standard hardware allows for, most of the fans we sell have an optional angled ceiling adapter that will allow you to hang the fan up to 30 or 45 degrees (or more) depending on the brand and the model.
Here is a chart to help you figure out what length downrod you will need for a standard size fan to clear the ceiling based on the pitch of the ceiling.
This chart was provided by Fanimation.