Ceiling fans bring the breeze to you simply and efficiently.

By Kristen Shelton
May 29, 2007
Cypress paneling creates a sense of warmth and tradition, but the room is filled with contemporary touches, such as bold artwork and a modern, drafting table–style desk with a polished chrome base. Even the ceiling fan provides an element of surprise with unusual silk blades.
Jean Allsopp

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, stayingcomfortable this summer will prove costly, as well. So it's ceilingfans to the rescue―they produce a "windchill" effect,allowing you to feel cooler regardless of the temperature. They'realso efficient, consuming less energy on average than a 100-wattlightbulb.

Keep in Mind …
• Materials: In coastal climates, look for fans withrust-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, tocirculate cooler air. But in winter, remember to reverse the motorso that the blades run clockwise, forcing warm air down. Reverseswitches usually are located inside or on top of the motorhousing.

• Size: Choose the largest possible fan for your room.Sizes generally run from 36 to 60 inches, representing the distancefrom the tip of one blade to the tip of the opposite. The 42- and52-inch fans are most popular: For a 12-by-12 room (150 square feetor less), the 42-inch fan is best. For a 20-by-20 room (400 squarefeet), choose a 52-inch fan. Optimal circulation occurs in squareareas. If you're cooling a large, rectangular room, consider twofans, evenly spaced, to distribute air.

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

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

• Blades: Fans with fewer than three or more than sixblades generally are considered decorative. Most fans have four orfive blades. Balance is more important than number of blades orstyle―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 fromthe pull chain entirely, while others include it but also give anoption for a wall-mounted control. Brand-new models often havehandheld remotes.

• Lights: If you're replacing an overhead light with afan, you'll probably want a fan/light combination. Most qualityfans 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 airmoved: the higher the number, the more air dispersed by the fan. Fan efficiency describes the relationship between the amountof air moved and the energy consumed.

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

Hunter: In addition to the Classic series, Hunter hasintroduced fans with hand-carved blades and innovative curvedwooden blades; hunterfan.com.

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

The Modern Fan Company: Designer and founder Ron Rezekdevelops fans with simple geometric lines and contemporary finishesin 17 designs; modernfan.com.