How to Choose a New Ceiling Fan

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Is it time to replace your old ceiling fan? Are you replacing a light fixture with a new fan? A ceiling fan can be a great addition to your home. A spinning ceiling fan can cool a room by several degrees, at a fraction of the cost of turning your thermostat down. Most fans also allow you to reverse the direction of the fan blades, to push hot air down from the ceiling in the winter. This can help you get the most out of your new fan’s potential to lower your heating and cooling costs.


However, you don’t choose a ceiling fan just to cut cooling costs. It’s a permanent fixture that should complement your home’s decor. It needs to be the right size, match your decorating style, and coordinate with the colors in your home. Here’s what you need to know to get it right.

Know Your Room’s Square Footage

If you want a fan that will look well in your space and function properly, you need to get the right size ceiling fan for your room. Ceiling fan sizes refer to the blade span of the fan, or the number of inches from the tip of one blade, across the middle of the fan, to the tip of the corresponding blade. For fans with an odd number of blades, the blades usually aren’t set across from each other, though, so the blade span will be the number of inches from the tip of one blade to the center of the fan, doubled.


The larger your room, the larger the fan you’ll need. Fan sizes start at about 29 inches and go up to 60 inches or more. You might need to special order ceiling fans on the small or large end of the spectrum, but most hardware stores carry fans sized from about 44 inches to 60 inches.

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If you’re installing your new fan in a room 75 square feet or smaller, choose a fan no larger than 36 inches. For bathrooms, you may want to stick with a bathroom vent fan, but if you do choose a ceiling fan, get one that’s rated for use in damp areas. That way, the blades won’t warp and the metal finish won’t rust due to the moisture it’ll be exposed to in the bathroom.


For rooms 76 to 144 square feet, you’ll want a fan 36 to 42 inches across. Rooms that are 145 to 225 square feet require a fan at least 44 inches wide, but no larger than 50 inches. Rooms 226 square feet to 400 square feet require 50- to 54-inch fans. For rooms even larger than 400 square feet, choose a ceiling fan no smaller than 60 inches.

Get the Right Accessories and Features

Fans come with a fairly wide range of features and accessories. As mentioned above, there are damp-rated indoor fans for rooms with high moisture levels. If you’re installing your new fan outdoors or in a mud room, choose an indoor/outdoor fan — these models are designed to stand up to moisture and the elements. You can even buy a marine-rated fan for outdoor installation in coastal areas, where sea salt winds might quickly corrode a normal outdoor-rated fan.


Other accessories and features you might need include:


  • A ceiling medallion to cover the hole from your old light fixture, if you’re not putting the fan in the same place
  • A metal support bracket to hang your fan from, if you’re not attaching it directly to a joist
  • Designer pull cords
  • Wall controls
  • A downrod to make sure your new fan sits at least eight, but no more than nine, feet from the floor
  • A remote control
  • Light fixtures
  • Light shades, globes, or other light covers
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You can even buy smart ceiling fans that you can control via smartphone app. The future is now.

Choose a Fan Style that Matches Your Design Aesthetic

Once you have features and functionality nailed down, your next concern will likely be choosing a fan that matches your decor. With such a wide variety of fan styles available on today’s market, there’s no need to restrict yourself to old-fashioned, traditional styles. Whether your design aesthetic is minimalist, modern, eclectic, tropical, contemporary, rustic, or something else, you can find a fan that will fit in with your decor, or you can go with one that breaks up the monotony of your usual aesthetic to bring interest and variety to your home’s look.


You may have heard that you should choose a ceiling fan that matches your ceiling, so it blends in. That’s one option, but these days, many homeowners are coordinating their fans to other parts of the room instead. A white fan might look good in a mostly white room, and it’s a good way to downplay the look of a fan that you chose more for budget reasons than aesthetic ones. Otherwise, match your fan’s blade color to your hardwood floor, or to the wood color of your furniture or trim. Match the metal trim on your fan to your door knobs, light switch plates, and other hardware. 


Choosing a new ceiling fan can feel overwhelming, especially when you see the wide range of options available. Narrow your choices down by size first, then look for something that matches your decor and speaks to your personal aesthetic. In the end, you’ll be glad you took the extra time to choose your new fan carefully.