Here are general size guidelines from the American Lighting Association:

Room Size Fan Size
Up to 75 square feet 36” or smaller
Up to 144 square feet 36” to 42”
Up to 224 square feet 50” to 54”

What price comfort?

Prices for ceiling fans range widely, from $20 to $100 for basic, two-switch varieties, to $3,000 and up to $12,000 (yes, really) for entire fan systems consisting of several high-end fans integrated into an architectural design.

However, most folks will be happy in the $200 to $600 range, which gets you a better-designed machine and warranty. Extras, such as designer shades, polycarbonate blades, and special finishes for woods and metal, can tack on a few hundred dollars.

What to look for

  • Blade pitch. The wider the blade (5 inches is good) and the higher their angle—called “pitch”—the more air gets moved. Higher-end fans have a blade pitch of 12 to 14 degrees.
  • Blade finish. Make sure the factory has treated the blades with a moisture sealant to prevent wooden blades from warping and peeling, and metal blades from scratching and tarnishing.
  • Motor quality. Better fans come with motors that have sealed and lubricated ball bearings, which require little maintenance, if any. More expensive models feature heavy-duty windings, precision engineering bearings, and die-cast housings, which vibrate less and are good-looking.
  • Energy Star-rated fans. To qualify, fans must have a minimum airflow of 1,250 CFM on low speed and 5,000 CFM on high speed. They must come with a minimum 30-year motor warranty; one-year component(s) warranty; and 2-year light kits warranty. Energy Star-rated fans are 50% more efficient than conventional ones.

Fans to be used outdoors or in high-humidity areas such as bathrooms or laundry rooms must be damp-rated or wet-rated.

Laura Fisher Kaiser writes the blog Secret Science Geek, is a contributing editor of Interior Design magazine, and a former editor at This Old House. She couldn’t survive sticky summers in Washington, DC, without the gossamer breeze of ceiling fans.

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