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Ceiling fan reviews

CHOICE compares 12 ceiling fans priced between $199 and $999 including AC and DC powered models.
 
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01 .Introduction

Ceiling Fan Reviews

We review and compare 12 ceiling fans, priced from $199 to $999.

Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which ceiling fans:

  • have the best performance
  • are the easiest to use, and
  • make the least amount of noise.

On this page:

Ceiling fans don’t actually lower the room temperature, but instead work the same way that a breeze does: by moving air around and over your skin, which cools you by accelerating the evaporation of perspiration. 

They can be an effective alternative to air conditioner options such as portable air conditioners and ducted reverse-cycle air conditioners, and are much cheaper to buy and run.

Get more tips on keeping your house cool at our comfortable home blog. Or, for more information on home cooling, see Heating and cooling.

Findings

The ceiling fans with the best bedroom performance deliver effective air movement at the lower settings without being too breezy, while models with good living room performance deliver a good amount of air movement at the highest settings. All the models on test are quiet at the low setting; some of the units become noisier at the highest setting.

Ceiling fans using an alternating current (AC) motor are the most common kind, and are an economical and cost-effective option; however fans using a direct current (DC) motor are becoming more common and deliver even greater efficiency, and therefore lower running costs. Speed options with DC models also allow more control over air movement with up to seven speeds compared to most AC models with only three settings.

The models on test powered by a DC motor include the Aeratron E503, Mercator Grange DC, Big Ass Fans Haiku, and Off Grid Australia 12 Volt DC fan and consume significantly less power at low, medium and high speeds than non-DC motor fans.

Brands and models tested

2013 test includes the following 12 models:
    • Aeratron E503
    • Big Ass Fans Haiku
    • Hunter Carera
    • Hunter Pacific Typhoon 316 Stainless
    • Martec Alpha
    • Martec Envirofan
    • Mercator Grange DC
    • Mercator Kewarra
    • Off Grid Australia 12 Volt DC 
    • Spinifex Ball
    • Spinifex Schoolhouse
    • Vento Uragano
    2012 test includes the following 24 models:
    • Atlas Acqua
    • Beracove  Elegance 24001
    • Cinni Milano
    • Fanaway  EV01 Prevail 210899
    • Hunter  Cabo Frio 24234
    • Hunter Carera
    • Hunter Industrie II
    • Hunter Pacific  EcO2
    • Hunter Pacific Attitude
    • Hunter Pacific Concept II
    • Hunter Pacific Icon
    • Hunter Pacific Majestic Coolah
    • Hunter Pacific Revolution
    • Hunter Pacific Typhoon 316 Moulded
    • Hunter Pacific Typhoon 316 Stainless
    • Hunter Savoy
    • Hunter Sonic
    • Hunter Vista
    • Intercept  Ceiling Fan
    • Lucci  Futura Eco 210873
    • Martec  Orbital MCE276BN
    • Martec  Wraptor MFW120W
    • Sapphire  SAP1304BWHT
    • Vento  Sole

    These models from earlier tests are also still available, however results are not directly comparable with the current test results:

    • Airflow ACES56
    • Cinni Colonial
    • HPM Air Boss WATCF13AW
    • Hunter Low Profile III
    • Hunter Outdoor II
    • Hunter Pacific Aurora Alternatives 2
    • Hunter Pacific Sycamore
    • Hunter Pacific Typhoon Timber
    • Martec Envirofan
    • Martec Quadrant
    • Omega Airspace
    • Omega New Yorker
    • Omega Seattle

    How we test 

    Performance is evaluated using our test program and quality requirements by a specialised external lab with a controlled test room measuring 4.5m x 4.5m x 2.4m high. The room has no furniture or heat source and has bare flat walls, floor and ceiling. Room temperature and humidity are measured before and during the tests to confirm their consistency for all tests. All fans are pre-conditioned by running on maximum speed for one hour. Fan rotational frequency is measured with a tachometer on each regulator setting. The instrument output is averaged over one minute for each reading. Measurements are completed for the highest and lowest regulator settings only. Total air delivery is calculated for both high and low settings. The temperature rise of the regulator and fan motor is measured after approximately 30 minutes of operating time. 

    Ease of use includes quality of installation instructions, use of the fan control, and the ability to reverse the rotational direction of the fan. We also look at issues such as moving from one fan speed setting to another. 

    Noise (dBA) is measured in the test room on the lowest and highest regulator settings, as well as the highest regulator setting in reverse fan direction, using a sound level meter positioned one metre below the centre of the fan. The dB values are comparative only. A listening test is also used to describe the type of sound (“clicking”, “humming” and so on).

     
     

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    The models in the What to Buy list give a range of choices when it comes to blade material, number of blades, type of controls, and integrated lights. However, several other models on test perform the task of moving air around the room efficiently and reasonably quietly, so design and price may also play a part in your final decision.

    Features

    Number of blades The fans tested have between three and five blades, with the exception of the Atlas Acqua (tested in 2012) with two sets of three small blades. 

    Blade material While most fans have wooden blades (timber, plywood or MDF), a few are stainless steel, aluminium, or 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 fans with wooden or plastic blades tended to be quieter, making them more suitable for bedrooms; however a couple of the DC fans tested in the latest test are particularly quiet and use plastic materials.

    Reversing the direction of the fan draws air upwards rather than downwards, aiding in moving warm air around in winter without creating a downward breeze in the room. This is useful on its own, or when used together with a heater or reverse-cycle air conditioner.

    Minimum ceiling height needs to be between 2.1m and 2.4m high, depending on the model you choose for the best performance. If your ceiling is significantly higher, you may need an extension rod to lower the fan to an optimal level.

    Fan balance kit This helps correct any wobbles that can rob a fan of efficiency and also lead to extra noise during operation.

    Fan control options include a pull cord control on the bottom of the fan or a wall switch that usually replaces the light switch.

    Remote control This not only provides a good level of control, it also allows easier fan installation in situations that make it difficult to rewire to a light switch. 

    Settings 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.

    Integrated light This can be a useful feature: if you rely on an existing light fitting mounted above the fan, you could end up with a strobe lighting effect.

    Other points to consider

    Wiring and mounting The fans in this test have to be wired in by a qualified electrician or their warranties will be voided. 

    Noise 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.

    Note: we've had reports of humming or buzzing noises in ceiling fans caused by ripple control signals sent through the electricity supply (to switch devices such as hot water systems on and off for off-peak tariff switching). This is a known problem but is unlikely to be covered by the fan warranty. Your electricity supplier may be able (or even required) to fix the problem, so contact them in the first instance to see how they can help. 

    The problem may be solved by having a suitable signal filter installed by a qualified electrician. The filter has to be matched to the local signal; a good fan dealer or electrician should be able to recommend the correct model. However in some cases the ripple control signal might be too strong to be effectively filtered.

    Have you experienced this noise problem? Please let us know in comments.

    Keeping it cool

    A fan (or air conditioner) will be much more effective if your home is as heat-proof as possible. Useful steps include:

    • Sealing all the gaps around your windows and doors.
    • Insulating your roof space.
    • Installing blinds or curtains over the inside of windows.
    • Installing external awnings or double-glazing.

    If you’re renovating or building, get professional design advice about regulating temperatures naturally with smart architecture, window shading and ventilation.

    Humming fans?

    We’ve had reports of humming or buzzing noises in ceiling fans caused by ripple control signals sent through the electricity supply (to switch devices such as hot water systems on and off for off-peak tariff switching). This is a known problem but is unlikely to be covered by the fan warranty. 

    However, it can usually be fixed by having a suitable signal filter installed by a qualified electrician. The filter has to be matched to the local signal; a good fan dealer or electrician should be able to recommend the correct model. 

    However, in some cases the ripple control signal might be too strong to be effectively filtered. Have you experienced this noise problem? Please let us know in the comments section.

    Instructions

    Comparison table list

    • By default ALL tested products are listed. You can select up to five items to view in a side by side comparison.
    • Additional columns can be viewed by using the Next/Previous buttons.

    Using the filters

    • Use the filters to show only products that meet your specific requirements or which have the specific features you're interested in. Selecting filters automatically updates the Comparison table list.
    • The number shown in brackets represents the number of products that will be shown if you select that filter.
    • You can view additional filters by selecting the Show more filters button. 

    In our test room, noise at the highest setting ranged from 44dB for the Heller Stella to 66dB for the Cinni Polished Shine. Most models are below 53dB, which is about the same level as the background noise in an average suburban dwelling.

    Compare products

     
    Table Allowing the user to select a number of products dependant on their filter options.
    Items to compare

    Select up to 5 items below.
    Then click the compare button

    Compare
     
    Overall scoreLiving room performance (%)Bedroom performance (%)Ease of use (%)Noise / highFan Blade MaterialNumber of bladesRecommended minimum fan height from floor (m)Diameter of blade (cm)Weight of blade (grams)Remote controlFan ControlReversibleBalance kit providedFan Power (Watts)Integrated lightPrice ($)WebsiteBrand
                        
    New Yorker87809094QuieterWood5319Omega
    Typhoon Timber81809063QuieterWood4192Hunter Pacific
    Seattle75509094QuieterWood3269Omega
    Outdoor II73609064NoisierStainless Steel3319Hunter
    Aurora Alternatives 271609056QuieterWood4214Hunter Pacific
    Airspace70509071QuieterWood4189Omega
    Envirofan68409078QuieterWood5349Martec
    Quadrant64309080QuieterWood4349Martec
    Sycamore61409043QuieterPlastic1834Hunter Pacific
    ACES5651603074NoisierAluminium3202Airflow
    Colonial51703054NoisierAluminium3299Cinni
    Boss WATCF13AW50405072QuieterWood4154HPM Air
    Low Profile III42403069NoisierWood5289Hunter
    Cabo Frio 2423438303068QuieterPlastic3389Hunter
    Compare
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