What's the difference between outdoor fans? Wet Rated Ceiling Fans can be directly exposed to rain, washed off with a hose and installed anywhere indoors or outdoors. Damp Rated Fans can only be installed in damp or dry locations that are covered and not exposed to rain (or your hose). If you are unsure about the amount of moisture or salt air the fan will be exposed to or if you want to be able to wash it with a hose, buy a wet rated fan made from stainless steel.
The The Donaire from Matthews Fan Company is made of 316 Marine Grade Stainless Steel and is built to withstand the most harsh outdoor conditions; wind, rain, sleet, snow, even salt air ocean environments. The blades are heavy duty UV protected ABS plastic (plastic is better than wood outdoors) and are inserted into the motor body instead of being held by typical blade holders that can break in high winds. This super high quality fan even survived hurricane Irma. View Product
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Building Code Requirements: There are 2 types of outdoor ceiling fans: those that are UL Listed for Damp Locations and those UL Listed for Wet Locations. If you are installing a ceiling fan outdoors, building safety codes require that you install an outdoor ceiling fan with the correct UL listed approval rating depending on where the fan is installed.
What is the difference between Wet Rated and Damp Rated outdoor ceiling fans? Wet rated outdoor fans can be installed anywhere (indoors or outdoors) and Damp Rated fans can only be installed in dry locations or damp covered areas that are not exposed directly to rain. So, any outdoor location that is directly exposed to rain requires wet rated ceiling fan. This includes uncovered areas, partially covered areas or covered areas where rain (or water from sprinklers) can come in contact with the fan. All other outdoor areas that are covered or not exposed directly to rain can use a wet rated or damp rated fan. Fans that are not rated for damp or wet locations can only be installed indoors. Both wet and damp location fans can also be used indoors and are highly recommended indoors for climates that are very humid or areas in the home that are damp such as bathrooms or laundry rooms.
Examples of where to install a WET rated fan:
Examples of where to install a DAMP rated fan:
Can you install an indoor ceiling fan outdoors? The answer is NO, you should never install an indoor ceiling fan outdoors, even if it is a screened in area. Ceiling fans that are not UL listed for outdoors are not designed to handle excess moisture and harsh elements such as UV radiation and fluctuations in temperature. Simply put, an indoor ceiling fan will not survive outdoors. Even more, they can short out and create a potential fire hazard. So it is critical that the correct type of ceiling fan be installed outdoors.
In order for a ceiling fan to be rated for use outdoors it must be built to a different standard than fans made only for indoor use. Some of the differences include additional water resistant shielding around wires and other electrical components as well as the use of stainless steel screws and other hardware. The exposed parts of the fan must have a weather and UV resistant coating or paint. The blades are often made of ABS plastic in order to avoid warping and deterioration over time. Light fixtures used on outdoor fans must also have additional protection from moisture and wet rated light fixtures may need to be completely sealed and water tight. These additional features may add some additional cost to an outdoor ceiling fan, but in most cases, the added cost is minimal compared to the design limitations they create. In other words, some ceiling fans designed for use indoors simply cannot be made for use outdoors because it is not practical or possible to make them water resistant. Some popular ceiling fan styles can be made into outdoor fans with very little additional cost, so manufacturers may choose to make them as wet rated outdoor fans so that people can use them in any location whether it be indoors or outdoors. A great example is the Emerson Curva and Emerson Curva Sky, which are very popular for both indoor and outdoor use..
Live near the beach? The most durable ceiling fans currently being made for installations in salt air environments are made from Marine Grade Stainless Steel or Cast Poly Resin. These 3 fans are specifically designed to handle the most harsh exterior applications with excessive exposure to moisture and salt air.
Although there is no specific UL listing for fans used in salt air environments, we offer the following advice for those who live near the ocean or a marine environment with salty air.
High Wind Locations: Many of our visitors come to us looking for replacement blades or blade holders that were broken by high winds. In almost every case, it was a low quality ceiling fan that had weak blade holders or cheap blades. Unfortunately, replacement parts are not typically available for these types of fans and they end up having to buy a new fan. Although there are no ceiling fans specifically made for windy areas, we have several recommendations that will help you choose from fans that are most likely to survive heavy winds.
Indoor Damp Locations: It is also recommended that damp or wet rated ceiling fans be used in any indoor location that is exposed to excess moisture such as bathrooms, laundry rooms or simply in climates where there is a lot of moisture in the air, particularly in areas close to the ocean or that have tropical climates. The Casablanca Wailea (#9 to the right) is our most popular choice for bathrooms and laundry rooms.
For open outdoor areas we recommend fans with at least 3.5 to 4 MPH wind speed (or more) and, in most cases, multiple smaller fans instead of individual larger fans. Wind speed is critical because ceiling fans cool you off by the breeze they create, they do not change the temperature of the air. The faster the air moves, the cooler you will feel. Wind Speed is not to be confused by the amount of airflow measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute) that is published by fan manufacturers. CFM only tells you how much air is moved, not how fast that air is moving. Most fans on our site have a performance graph that provides both the CFM and MPH (wind speed), so pay close attention to the MPH not the CFM. For example: large fans that have unusually high airflow ratings (above 10,000 CFM) move lots of air, but at a much slower speed than smaller fans. Also, don't expect to feel much breeze from even the best outdoor fan if you are not directly beneath it. Within just 2 feet away from any fan, the wind speed can be less than half as much, especially in open areas where the airflow is not confined. This is why we recommend multiple fans outdoors.
2) Keeping Bugs away requires Higher Wind Speed
Some studies have shown that pesky insects like mosquitoes and flies are less likely to remain air born in winds over 5 MPH. So if you are considering buying a fan to keep those bugs away, you need to consider a fan with the highest wind speed you can get. Most ceiling fans are not capable of producing that strong a breeze and those that can are generally smaller in diameter and focus the breeze in a very narrow area, so several fans may be required. Here's a link to outdoor fans that create the highest wind speed.
More About CFMs and Wind Speed: Our website is the only site online with graphs that compare the most important factors of ceiling fan performance. Be sure to familiarize yourself with our ceiling fan comparison graphs as you look through our site. For more information about 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! 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.
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