Cooling Effect

Ceiling fans bring the breeze to you simply and efficiently.

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A Study in Style

Jean Allsopp

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It's no easy task to stay cool in the summer, even on the coast. And if last year's blistering heat is any indication, staying comfortable this summer will prove costly, as well. So it's ceiling fans to the rescue―they produce a "windchill" effect, allowing you to feel cooler regardless of the temperature. They're also efficient, consuming less energy on average than a 100-watt lightbulb.

 Keep in Mind … 
 • Materials: In coastal climates, look for fans with rust-free finishes and blades that won't warp.

 • Seasonality: In warm weather, you'll want the fan in "down-draft" mode, with the blades running counterclockwise, to circulate cooler air. But in winter, remember to reverse the motor so that the blades run clockwise, forcing warm air down. Reverse switches usually are located inside or on top of the motor housing.

 • Size: Choose the largest possible fan for your room. Sizes generally run from 36 to 60 inches, representing the distance from the tip of one blade to the tip of the opposite. The 42- and 52-inch fans are most popular: For a 12-by-12 room (150 square feet or less), the 42-inch fan is best. For a 20-by-20 room (400 square feet), choose a 52-inch fan. Optimal circulation occurs in square areas. If you're cooling a large, rectangular room, consider two fans, evenly spaced, to distribute air.

 Also Consider ... 
 • Ceiling Height: Most companies recommend a 9-foot fan-to-floor distance. To accommodate taller ceilings, you'll need an extension, or downrod. For example, if you have an 11-foot ceiling, your downrod should be around 2 feet, bringing the fan to just the right distance above the floor. In rooms with low ceilings, fans can be flush-mounted without a downrod.

 • Positioning: If your ceiling is sloped, suspend the fan from an angled mount. Versatile "tri-mount" models can be installed in any application (downrod, flush-mount, or angled).

 • Blades: Fans with fewer than three or more than six blades generally are considered decorative. Most fans have four or five blades. Balance is more important than number of blades or style―uneven blades can cause fans to wobble.

 • Controls: Decide early what kind of power, speed, and lighting controls you need. Some companies have moved away from the pull chain entirely, while others include it but also give an option for a wall-mounted control. Brand-new models often have handheld remotes.

 • Lights: If you're replacing an overhead light with a fan, you'll probably want a fan/light combination. Most quality fans come equipped with built-in lighting or light kits.

 How to Speak Fluent Fan 
The blade pitch, or angle of the blade relative to the fan, should be 12 to 15 degrees. RPM, revolutions per minute, indicates a fan's speed. CFM, cubic feet per minute, measures the amount of air moved: the higher the number, the more air dispersed by the fan. Fan efficiency describes the relationship between the amount of air moved and the energy consumed.

 Fan Sources 
 Fanimation: This fan company offers a range of styles, from classic to tropical; fanimation.com.

 Hunter: In addition to the Classic series, Hunter has introduced fans with hand-carved blades and innovative curved wooden blades; hunterfan.com.

 Restoration Hardware: Mostly modern, these ceiling fans are fun, funky, and functional; restorationhardware.com.

 The Modern Fan Company: Designer and founder Ron Rezek develops fans with simple geometric lines and contemporary finishes in 17 designs; modernfan.com.  
 
 

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