Ceiling fans are our friends during the hotter months, plus they offer an energy-efficient option when it comes to cooling: when air is in motion, we can tolerate warmer temperatures so we don't have to crank up the air conditioning. There are plenty of styles to choose from to complement your decor, but here's what you need to know before you head in store.
Check the measurements of the area you need to cool. “As a general rule, with rooms measuring 6m x 6m or above, you should consider a larger fan size – between 1200-1400mm,” says HPM lifestyle expert Jason Neophytou. “For smaller rooms measuring up to 4m x 5m, such as bedrooms, you should consider sizes up to 1200mm.” If you are dealing with a much larger space, such as an open-plan living/dining zone, you may need two.
Comparing airflow between fans of a similar size will help gauge performance, explains Tanya Gatti of Arlec. Airflow measures the average volume of air flowing through measured points every 60 seconds, in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The more CFM, the more the fan can move that air. But watch the wattage it takes to do this – the more power used, the higher your bills.
Blades come in different sizes, materials and quantities, and where you're going to locate your fan is a key factor in the choice. Blades made of MDF, for example, will not fare so well in an outdoor spot – aluminium, plastic or fibreglass are better options.
For spaces such as bedrooms or a study, choose wooden blades, and for kitchens, metal, suggests Jason. “Wooden blades are quieter than metal blades due to their shape,” he explains. “For larger areas, such as kitchens or living rooms, choose a metal blade – these tend to move more air, covering larger spaces.” Fans with more blades don't necessarily ensure better air circulation. Three blades are considered optimal, but a higher number of blades makes for quieter operation.
Look for a fan that has ‘summer' and ‘winter' modes. In summer mode, the blades move in a counter-clockwise direction, pushing cool air down, which can enhance the effectiveness of your air conditioner. In winter they rotate clockwise, which draws warm air up and helps distribute it around the room.
Also consider one with a built-in light. “Integrated lights are great for smaller rooms, reducing ceiling space clutter and the annoying flashing caused by fan blades sweeping under downlights,” says Jason.
Australian standards require a minimum of 2.1m between the floor and the lowest point of fan blades. If you have low ceilings, a flush-mount model may be the solution. “Maintain a reasonable distance between the tip of the blades to the nearby wall, heating devices, or the building structure,” warns Tanya Gatti. “Keep them away from direct exposure to elements, at least 1.5m from the fan to the edge of eaves if a fan is installed in an enclosed outdoor area.”
If your fan is destined for outside, make sure it's suitable for outdoor use, and always have any fan installed by a licensed electrician.
Ceiling fans usually come with a mounting kit, but what's crucial is their hanging system. A ‘hang sure' system allows the mounting of a fan on all ceiling types, including raked ceilings. “The ball joint in a ‘hang sure' fan moves within the fan canopy, allowing the fan to always hang level, which is not the case with ‘J hook' type canopies, which are recommended for flat ceilings,” says Jason.
Take note of our energy and money saving tips for summer.
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