8 Styles of Ceiling Fans to Beat the Heat

Considering a ceiling fan to help with your summer cooling? Check out your options before making your selection with help from this guide.

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Orange bedroom with a ceiling fan
Andrea Rugg/Getty Images

Choosing a Ceiling Fan

A classic way to beat the heat, ceiling fans can be found in homes across the globe. A traditional residential ceiling fan uses slightly angled paddle blades to circulate air and maintain a more comfortable feel for the occupants. Many ceiling fans can be set to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the season. Clockwise rotation pulls air up toward the ceiling, which is useful in winter, while counterclockwise pushes it to the floor for a cooling effect.

Note that while ceiling fans make the room feel cooler during summer months, fans don’t lower the air temperature. So you’ll need to adjust your thermostat to reduce energy costs.

With all the great options available, how do you choose a ceiling fan that’s right for you? Read on to see eight features and styles to consider when shopping for a ceiling fan.

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Standard Ceiling Fans

This is what most people think of when they hear “ceiling fan.” Standard ceiling fans descend from the ceiling with a down rod, usually sized to bring the blades approximately eight feet from the floor.

If your ceiling has a slight angle or you prefer an affordable, no-frills solution, a standard ceiling fan is a great option.

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Flush-Mount Ceiling Fans

Rooms with lower ceilings often require a flush-mount ceiling fan. These attach directly to the ceiling mount, keeping the fan blades closer to the ceiling. They offer a more streamlined aesthetic than a standard ceiling fan, but the tighter space between the blades and ceiling makes it tougher to circulate the air and slightly less energy efficient.

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Multi-Head Ceiling Fans

For design flair, opt for a multi-head ceiling fan. Instead of larger blades swirling parallel to the floor, these ceiling fans have two or more smaller fans built in, functioning like multiple wall-mounted fans rotating around a center point. They look fun with a modern aesthetic, often enhanced with retro fan heads.

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Ceiling Fans with Light Kits

To add a little light to your cooling breeze, look for a ceiling fan with a light kit. These are especially useful in bedrooms and hallways.

Until recently, using light bulbs specifically designed for ceiling fans was essential to limit vibration resistance and keep the filament intact. Luckily, LED lights are far more resistant to this kind of motion, and much cheaper to operate. Some ceiling fans come with standard sockets for light bulbs, while others use LED strips that often are not designed to be replaced.

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Outdoor Ceiling Fans

Damp or wet-rated outdoor fans are designed to withstand the elements while making the outdoors more comfortable for you and your family. Outdoor ceiling fans are particularly useful on porches and other semi-enclosed areas where the air movement will be noticeable and welcome.

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Smart Ceiling Fans

Some newer fans are intended to interact with your home wireless network. Smart ceiling fans are part of the Internet of things (IoT) and can often be controlled by a voice assistant or smart phone app. This is extremely useful when you want to set a timer, turn them on or off remotely, or sync their use to your thermostat to maximize energy savings.

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DC Motorized Ceiling Fans

Traditional ceiling fans run on alternating current (AC). Many newer fans have a converter in the base to convert the AC power to direct current (DC). This isn’t a feature you’d notice by looking at the fan, but you’ll probably hear the difference and notice it in your electric bill. On average, DC motor-drive ceiling fans are quieter, use less energy and produce less heat than traditional AC models.

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Energy Efficient Ceiling Fans

Per the Energy Star specs, Energy Star certified ceiling fans are 60 percent more efficient than conventional fan/light units because of improved motors and blade designs.

Energy efficient fans with blades larger than 35 inches generally offer the biggest savings. So if you’re in the market for a larger fan, it’s worth checking out Energy Star certified ceiling fans.

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Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.