What you need to know about installing a Residential Ceiling Fan

Ceiling Fan Buying Guide

     Your ready to make a small investment in your home by upgrading a living space with a ceiling fan.  Before you bring that shiny new fan home from the store and have it installed, take not of a few pointers you should know in order to avoid making some common purchasing mistakes.


Advantages to ceiling fans     

     For starters there are many good reasons why you would want to use a ceiling fan in their home or business.  Energy savings, accessibility and operating cost are usually the biggest reasons one has to utilize a fan. 


Energy Savings

     One of these reasons might be to more economically utilize electricity vs operating an Air conditioner or Hvac system.  Some fan models have added value built into them by design as they can further assist with heating or cooling by changing the direction in which the fan spins.  In the summer it brings the cool air up to the ceiling and in the winter it forces the warm air down to the floor.  Another advantage to using a ceiling fan is that they can be used all season round to distribute air and prevent condensation buildup on windows.  If the condensation is left unattended it can lead to pooling water onto the window frame causing water damage to the sills and air quality issues forming from mold. 


HRV – Heat Recovery Ventilator

     In a new home you may want to price out having a HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) priced in when your home is being built.  They keep your humidity levels in check to help with condensation as well as cycle the stale air with outside fresh air.  All this takes place through a box containing coils which either pre-heat or pre-cool incoming fresh air to boost efficiency.  Return vents are added in bathrooms and kitchens to take the moist air outside but not before extracting all the heat/cool air to recharge the new fresh air coming back into the home.  These systems are simple to operate via a humidisat and only require periodic filter cleaning.  Keep in mind that a HRV can be installed post building process but to get the full benefit from the system duct work will need to be run in the walls to the individual rooms.


Cost – affordable solution for moving air

     If you are living in a rural area you may burn wood fuel or have a gas fireplace as a backup heat source for when the power goes out.  Since a fan has a relatively small load draw, they can be run off a small generator easily.  It would allow your wood stove or fireplace to distribute heat more effectively throughout your home.  You may want to avoid running or can’t use a forced air furnace system on a generator due to its electrical requirements.  Also it would be expensive to replace its electronics should something malfunction while on generator power.  A ceiling fan would allow you some immunity to dirty power and if something did go wrong would be far cheaper to replace than to fix a furnace.  The same situation holds true for a summer storm or heatwave that knocks out the utility power line.  The option to have a fan running vs a air-conditioner and forced air is a nice luxury to have.


Accessibility – Are your thinking about your loved one’s safety?


     A great feature that enhances a mobility impaired or elderly persons independence are ceiling fans with the addition of a remote control.  This feature will allow easy accessibility to the controls that will enable you to switch or dim the lighting and change the speed of the fan without the risk of having a serious fall or worry about having to over-reach to access a pull chain or having to get up to use the light switch.  The biggest draw back is that eventually the remote control will require battery replacement.


Fan Size – Size does matter and its how you use it.


     When selecting a fan you should consider the size of room that the fan will be used in.  A general rule of thumb is that a large room requires a large fan and a small room is better suited to a small fan.  You may want more then one fan in a large room to properly move air around.  Getting the improper size of fan allow the fans blades the ability to properly move air.  For example, a fan that is to large placed in a small bedroom may create a large draft even on its low speed setting causing you difficulties falling asleep.  Likewise if the fan was sized too small the speed would have to be turned up to its higher setting creating more noise and consuming more power. 


Lighting requirements – what bulbs do I need?


     While adding extra lighting to a living space is usually desirable you can make a slight mis-step by purchasing a fan with uncommon bulbs.  Something I like to always look at is the type of bulb that is used in the fans light if equipped.  Some bulbs are somewhat unique in that they must be properly handled to prevent oil from your skin contacting the bulb lens.  By getting oil on the bulb you can significantly shorten the usable life of the bulb.  This makes a DIY repair more difficult.  Many people would not have a spare bulb on hand to replace this type of bulb which is why I prefer fan fixtures that incorporate led’s into the fixture.  The led’s last a very long time, they are energy efficient and they are not damaged easily from mis-handling.  It should also be noted here that if you require wall switching of both the fan and light separately to look into the specs of the fan you wish to purchase.  Not all models will have this capability.


Fan Mounting – Electrical box requirements


     Lastly I would recommend that you inspect the electrical junction box you plan to attach the ceiling fan to.  In many cases the existing junction box that formerly had a light fixture will not be rated “cf” to support the added weight of the fan.  Also you may have to add extra reinforcement bracing and a safety wire to the electrical junction box, requiring either ceiling access such as a attic access door or drywall removal to install the new electrical box properly for the fan. 


     As always If your not confident in your abilities with how to preform this renovation safely, it is advised you seek a qualified electrician for assistance with removing and installing the new fan.


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