Improvements over the past quarter century have focused on making fans more efficient and easier to operate, with quieter motors and better lighting.


Integrated lighting (as opposed to light kits that attach to the bottom of the motor) makes for sturdier construction and sleeker design. Many fans now feature glare-reducing uplighting as well as energy-efficient fluorescent or halogen bulbs.


First it was pull chains, then wall switches, and now remote controls. The most advanced have thermostatic sensors and built-in timers to save on energy costs.


Today's motors are stronger and quieter, and their multiple speeds and reverse settings help circulate heated air in the winter. Four blades used to be the standard; today it's five. Blade spans are wider too—up to 60 inches—and where old fans had blades that sat parallel to the ceiling, now blades tilt at angles as great as 20 degrees. The result is far better movement of air.

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