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How to Size a Ceiling Fan

A ceiling fan is a cost-effective way to cool off without cranking up the AC. Read on for tips on how to determine the size of a ceiling fan and how to install one.

When the ceiling fan was first invented in the late 19th century, it was mainly used in city meat markets to keep away airborne pests. Today, most ceiling fans are installed with a considerably different purpose—to help homeowners cool themselves down at a fraction of the cost of air conditioning, or simply to add an accent to their home decor.

Whatever your motivation for bringing a ceiling fan into your home, it’s important to choose a model that’s the right size for your space and install it correctly.

The installation process isn’t difficult if you’re replacing an old light fixture with the fan, but if wires have to be fished and circuits added, or the ceiling is higher than 10 feet, you may want to enlist the help of an electrician.

Ceiling Fan For 200 Sq Ft Room Photo by Getty Images / Fuse

Cooling down doesn't always require a blasting AC and skyrocketing energy bill. We have the tips to make an informed purchase and savings boost a breeze.

How to Size & Install a Ceiling Fan

Buy the Right Size

Ceiling Fan With Four Blades Whirring Photo by Design Pics Inc. / Alamy

Select a fan with the appropriate span: 36 inches for rooms up to 100 square feet, 42 inches for up to 200 square feet, 52 inches for up to 400 square feet, and either one 60-inch fan or two 52- or 56-inch fans for rooms larger than 400 square feet. When installing two fans, place one at each quarter point along the room's long axis. In all cases, there should be at least 18 inches of clearance from walls.

Position for Max Payoff

Ceiling Fan Centered On High Ceiling Photo by Getty Images / LOOK Photography

Hang fans about 8 feet above the floor for the maximum cooling effect. For rooms with high ceilings, purchase a just-the-right-size downrod by subtracting 8 feet from the ceiling height and adding back about 1 foot to accommodate the motor and casing. If your headroom is less than 9 feet, choose a hugger-style ceiling fan, which has a more compact shape. Sloped ceiling? Manufacturers sell adapters that let fans hang at an angle of up to 48 degrees.

Take Care with Installation

Electrician Installing Ceiling Fan Photo by Getty Images / Jupiterimages

Consult an electrician when replacing an existing light fixture, to verify that the ceiling can support the weight and that the electrical box is fan-rated. If installing from scratch, hire a pro to do the wiring, or see the guide How to Install a Ceiling Fan.