BUYER’S GUIDE: CEIL­ING FANS

If your home needs a del­i­cate draught, a stiff breeze or any­thing in be­tween, check out these cool­ing choices

Inside Out (Australia) - - Contents - WORDS JANE PARBURY

Bold state­ment or nat­u­ral looks, these ‘wind charms’ can add a chic el­e­ment to a room

The ceil­ing fan is one of those house­hold essen­tials in which form and func­tion can be per­fectly mar­ried. The lat­est styles range from grace­ful good looks to fab­u­lous state­ment-mak­ers, and they’re use­ful year-round to help keep you cooler in sum­mer and warmer in win­ter. Here’s what you need to know.

size mat­ters

When it comes to ceil­ing fans, size is ac­tu­ally ev­ery­thing. “A small fan in a large room will have to work twice as hard to cool you off, while a large fan in a small room may cre­ate an un­com­fort­able amount of air­flow,” says Bea­con Light­ing’s Denise Ham­mond. For a small to medium-sized room up to 4m x 5m, se­lect a fan with 122cm blades, sug­gests Denise, while blades of 132cm-plus will suit a room size of up to 6m x 6m. In a large, open-plan space, you may need two or more mod­els.

It’s less the num­ber of blades than the shape of the aero­foil that truly de­ter­mines the ef­fec­tive­ness of the fan, ex­plains Sarah John­ston of Big Ass Fans. “Our aero­foil de­sign in­cludes an up­swept blade an­gle, that has been de­signed to pro­vide greater air flow and there­fore more ef­fec­tive cov­er­age of a room in com­par­i­son to tra­di­tional ceil­ing fans,” she says.

per­fect po­si­tion­ing

“Blades need to be at least 2.1m from the floor,” says builder Pa­trick Toner of All Things Build­ing (allth­ings­build­ing.com.au), so if you have low or stan­dard 2.4m ceil­ings you’ll need to look for a low-pro­file model that can be fit­ted flush to the ceil­ing. “Most fans come with a ball canopy fix­ing method, which means fans can be mounted on slop­ing, vaulted or flat ceil­ings,” ex­plains Denise. For high or raked ceil­ings, an ex­ten­sion rod might be nec­es­sary to ac­tu­ally bring the fan down to an ef­fi­cient height.

In a small room with one fan, cen­ter­ing it is log­i­cal for both aes­thet­ics and ef­fi­ciency. How­ever in a large bed­room, it might make bet­ter sense to po­si­tion it over the bed for re­lief on hot nights. In an ex­pan­sive, open-plan room, con­sider us­ing fans to ‘zone’ spa­ces, such as plac­ing one over your sit­ting area and one above the din­ing ta­ble. Be aware that fans need to be fit­ted se­curely to joists or block­ing, and should be po­si­tioned away from down­lights to pre­vent flick­er­ing. “There’s no hard and fast rule for this dis­tance,” says Pa­trick. “It de­pends on how far the fan is from the ceil­ing and the an­gle of light from your down­lights. Ask your builder and elec­tri­cian for ad­vice.”

power ben­e­fits

Fans don’t cool the air, they just move it around the room. “The faster the air moves over your skin, the more it works to evap­o­rate per­spi­ra­tion, which is the mech­a­nism your body uses to cool it­self,” ex­plains Denise Ham­mond. A ceil­ing fan de­mands just a frac­tion of the power needs of an air con­di­tioner, and us­ing both to­gether can reap se­ri­ous en­ergy-sav­ing ben­e­fits. “The two work well in tan­dem by drop­ping the ini­tial tem­per­a­ture of a room, and then cir­cu­lat­ing that colder air,” says Denise.

Con­versely, there are sim­i­lar ben­e­fits in cold months, when re­verse-func­tion ceil­ing fans can be switched over to run clock­wise, push­ing down the avail­able heat to warm the room bet­ter – a bonus for high-ceilinged rooms and even out­doors. “Used in con­junc­tion with high out­door heaters, this func­tion makes your out­door room a per­fect en­ter­tain­ing spot all year round,” says Pa­trick.

Be­yond sim­ply cool­ing or help­ing to heat your out­door room, us­ing a ceil­ing fan in an out­side area has an ex­tra perk. “Fans aid in keep­ing flies off your food when en­ter­tain­ing as they don’t like the mov­ing air,” says in­te­rior de­signer Sarah Nolen of Bird­black De­sign. A fan to be used al­fresco must be suit­able for out­doors.

style guide

Time was, the ceil­ing fan came in white and – er, white. Not so now, says Sarah Nolen. “Man­u­fac­tur­ers are think­ing about the shape and colours and how they can work in har­mony with mul­ti­ple styles,” she says. For style cues, look to the de­sign of your home, as well as the ef­fect you want. “For a Hamp­tons ef­fect, I will se­lect a fan that has large curved fins to bal­ance the sur­round­ing look,” adds Sarah. “If you have a high ceil­ing, a bolder style of fan will draw at­ten­tion, which in turn will draw your eye up, ac­cen­tu­at­ing the ceil­ing height. In smaller rooms I pre­fer a stream­lined ef­fect, so that it ‘dis­ap­pears’.”

Fan blades are typ­i­cally made of metal, plas­tic, tim­ber or ply­wood, with the choice of ma­te­ri­als in­flu­enc­ing the price. Some fans have built-in lights, which solves the dilemma pre­sented by mak­ing your fan, rather than a pen­dant light, the cen­tre point of the room. Typ­i­cally, the light can be op­er­ated in­de­pen­dently so the fan can re­main off even when the light is on.

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