Wiring and mounting
The fans in this test have to be wired in by a qualified electrician or their warranties will be voided. The only exception is the Arlec, with its J-hook, which you could, in theory, install yourself. It does not need extra wiring, but you need to have a power point in your ceiling to plug it in.
All the fans in our test had three operating speeds. Some are regulated with a pull cord that dangles from the fan itself. However, this proved to be the least user-friendly option. The remote-controlled fans are the easiest to use. Wall switches are also easy to use, but they require professional installation.
Half the fans come with a light fitting. Combining these elements can be a good idea. If you rely on an existing light fitting mounted above the fan, you could end up with a strobe lighting effect.
We tested fans with the living room and bedroom in mind — the key difference being that a bedroom fan should be quiet enough to let you get to sleep. We measured the noise with the fan on ‘low’ to correspond to use in a bedroom, and on ‘high’, a setting that’s likely to be used in a living room for faster and more effective air circulation.
Number of blades
The 19 fans tested have between one and five blades. With three, four and five bladed fans, there was no obvious difference in effectiveness, but the unusual single-bladed Hunter Pacific Sycamore was one of the worst performers.
While most fans have wooden blades, a few are stainless-steel, and some are plastic.
- In our test there was no difference in cooling ability between fans with wood and stainless-steel blades. Both types featured among the top performers.
- The three fans with plastic blades rated comparatively poorly.
- The single fan that had rattan segments in its blades rated worst.
- The fans with wooden blades tended to be quieter, making them more suitable for bedrooms.
Heat-proofing your house
Before you buy a fan or any other type of cooling system, it’s worth heat-proofing your home as much as possible. Even simple measures such as sealing up all the gaps around your windows and doors can make a difference.
Insulating your roof space will make a major impact on heat loss and gain indoors. Blinds or curtains over the inside of windows help. External awnings are even better, and double glazing is something you can have done without major rebuilding work.
If you’re renovating or building, get professional design advice about regulating temperatures naturally with smart architecture, window shading and ventilation. You could also insulate your walls.