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When it comes to efficiency it's hard to beat a ceiling fan. We independently lab test over 20 brands to help you find the perfect fan for your house. Find out more on how we test ceiling fans. Not sure what type you need? Use our expert fans buying guide.
We test 30 fans, priced from $69 to $1050, to help you find which brands perform the best. Our independent data tells you:
Our interactive comparison tool helps you find out which brands have features like optional remote controls and integrated lights. Our Recommended list will help you see quickly which models come out on top.
List of brands we tested in this review.
This is the manufacturer's recommended retail price.
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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, further lowering running costs. Speed options with DC models also allow more control over air movement - up to seven settings - compared to most AC models, with only three settings.
Rates the ability of the fan to move air at high speeds, a setting more likely to be used in a larger area during the day. The more powerful, the better the score.
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Rates the ability of the fan to move air at the lowest setting, the most likely setting to be used at night while sleeping. Weak air movement scores 30%, moderate air movement scores 50%, gentle but effective air movement scores 90%, while models considered too powerful on their lowest setting score 70% (strong air movement is less desirable when you're trying to sleep, but can still be compensated for with an extra sheet, for example; weak air movement, on the other hand, is essentially useless). Models with more than three settings such as the DC powered models with 5 and 6 settings earn a 90% score if the first setting is lower than the optimal air movement speed as one of the other 4 or 5 settings will deliver the appropriate air movement.
We measure noise and will make comment if it noteworthy, particularly when conducting the bedroom test (measurement of airflow at lowest speeds) as this would be an area where a noisy or distracting sound from the motor would be an issue. However we are unable to deliver the exact decibel figures collected as the test room's ambient noise levels are not low enough to distinguish the difference in noise levels below 30dB. While the actual sounds a fan make may seem loud or quiet, its the type of noise produced that people often find distracting and these can be produced at noise levels that are still very low.
The test costs to construct an anechoic chamber (a room with a dB below 15) would be prohibitive. However we are looking at better ways to deliver a more useful description of the sounds created by each fan and will add these to the good or bad points.
As can be seen in our test, models with three, four, five and even two blades perform at all different rates with no trend based on the number used so choose based on the results in the report and your personal taste.
All the models on test can use a remote control although getting one later can be expensive so if you think you want one, get it at the time of purchase.
While most fans have wooden blades (timber, plywood or MDF), a few are stainless steel, aluminium, or plastic. In testing we’ve found there’s generally little difference in cooling ability between fans with wood and stainless-steel blades. Fans with wooden or plastic blades tend to be quieter, making them more suitable for bedrooms.
Fan control options include a pull-cord control on the bottom of the fan or a wall switch that usually replaces the light switch. A remote control 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.
Over several years of testing and based on reader feedback, we have found models with three settings to be restrictive when looking for the best range of air movement solutions for bedroom, living room as well as at the warmest times in summer. Models with 5 or 6 speeds deliver the range that should satisfy most situations, as long as the slowest speed is not too fast.
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