Why don't ceiling fans put out much light any more?
One of the most common questions people ask about ceiling fans is "Which ceiling fan provides the most light?". People are asking this question because they are increasingly unsatisfied with the light
output of ceiling fans nowadays. What happened to the good old 5-light fixture that gave you 300 Watts of light?
What happened to the basic 4-light kit that had 60 Watt Standard Medium base sockets?
Why have they been replaced with 40 watt candelabra bulbs!
Well, here's the answer in a nutshell: The masterminds running our wonderful Federal Environmental Protection Agency have decided that ceiling fans waste energy! What? You heard it...you can read all about it here: According to the EPA, ceiling fans are to be used for cooling a room, not as a primary source of light, even though many people replace the main overhead light in their room with a ceiling fan. Go Figure! So the EPA now regulates how much energy a ceiling fan's light fixture is allowed to use, which is a maximum of 190 watts...nearly half as much light as we used to be able to get out of a fan.
Ceiling Fans With Lights - EPA Legislation and Regulations
Here's what you need to know about ceiling fans with lights:
Over the last several years the EPA has rolled out legislation that regulates ceiling fans with lights. Briefly, this legislation mandates that ceiling fan light fixtures do not use more than 190 watts of electricity and that there be a mechanism in place that does not allow any ceiling fan with lights to operate beyond this wattage either by having a limiter or fuse installed in the light fixture or fan (*read loophole below). It is also now illegal to sell ceiling fans in the USA that use standard medium base sockets unless CFL bulbs are included with the fixture. Ceiling fan light fixtures for the most part must now use candelabra base bulbs, halogen bulbs, Fluorescent bulbs or LEDs. Gone are the days when a ceiling fan could provide enough light for an entire room with 5 light fixtures that used 60 watt incandescent bulbs for up to 300 watts of dimmable light. As a matter of fact, the DOE has stated that ceiling fans are NOT to be considered the primary source of light in a room. This is an unfortunate assumption since it is still quite common to replace a central primary overhead light source with a ceiling fan that has lights.
Not only are ceiling fan lights less bright now, in cases where CFL bulbs are used, they are not dimmable. Even though CFL bulb makers are now producing dimmable bulbs, they are not yet perfected and not recommended for use in ceiling fans due to their sensitivity to vibration. So be careful to take note of the type of bulbs used in a ceiling fan light as well as the wattage. CFL bulbs will use about 1/3 the wattage as incandescent bulbs, which is great for energy conservation but not so great if you do not like the look and feel of fluorescent lighting and you want to control your light with a dimmer. You can assume that a 26 watt CFL is about as bright as a 60 watt incandescent bulb and a 13 watt CFL is a little less bright than a single 40 watt incandescent bulb. So a 4 light fixture that has 13 Watt CFL bulbs will still provide pretty good lighting, just not the warm light you are used to with incandescent bulbs. Halogen lights seem to put out about the same or slightly more light than the equivalent incandescent, so a 100 Watt halogen is about the same as a 100 watt incandescent...although because of the color of the light it appears brighter. LED bulbs are the most energy efficient but still have a ways to go before they can produce enough lumens to equal good ol' incandescent bulbs.
*Loophole: Currently there is a loophole in the legislation that does not require manufacturers to include a 190 watt limiter in ceiling fans with lights that have medium base sockets and include CFL bulbs. So some manufacturers have taken advantage of this and simply included CFL bulbs with their old original ceiling fan light fixtures. The EPA plans to close this loophole in subsequent legislation that is currently in the planning stages. Since medium base incandescent bulbs still produce the warmest and most natural light, keep this in mind because you can still swap out the bulbs for standard incandescent bulbs if the light fixture has medium base sockets, at least for the near future.
Comparing Airflow Is Also Important
When comparing ceiling fans with lights it is also important to consider how much airflow each ceiling fan is capable of generating. Not all ceiling fans are created equal. Less expensive fans usually have smaller less powerful motors that do not move very much air. Airflow for ceiling fans is measured in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute of air). The higher the CFM, the more cooling effect a fan will produce...and the more energy you will save on your air conditioning. For more information about CFM and comparing the performance of ceiling fans, read this page: Who Makes the Best Ceiling Fans? The Online Guide to Comparing Ceiling Fans
Talk to a Ceiling Fan Expert!t
Because there is so much to consider when shopping for an outdoor ceiling fan, we recommend that you simply call and talk to one of our ceiling fan experts. We will be able to tell you the difference between each of the outdoor fans on our site and help you choose the best fan for your application.
Talk to a Ceiling Fan Expert - Call: 1-800-201-1193