In the quest to keep our homes comfortable and welcoming while also reducing our carbon footprint, ceiling fans are a kind of low-key solution that just doesn't get enough attention. And with the recent advent of DC motor ceiling fans, they're an even better option for those who want to make their home as efficient as possible.
Long before the invention of air conditioners, people relied on ceiling fans to circulate air and enhance room comfort. The earliest recorded ceiling fan was in India and required manual labor to keep ceiling-mounted palm leaves moving.
In 1860, Americans found a way to power them using a steam motor and a fan belt. Philip Diehl of the Singer sewing machine company attached an electric motor to one in 1882, and we've been cooling ourselves with electricity ever since.
Ceiling fans offer a simple and immediate solution to combat a room's temperature woes. With just a flip of a switch, you can enjoy cooler conditions in a hot room or increased warmth in a chilly one. Their cooling effect is attributed to the air movement, expediting the natural process of sweat evaporation. Notably, ceiling fans work more effectively in dry climates than humid ones.
During warmer months, set your ceiling fan to spin counterclockwise to create a cooling downdraft. Conversely, during winter, reversing the fan's blade direction will gently circulate warm air from near the ceiling, warming the room's perimeter.
In some ways, ceiling fans are ignored because of their ubiquity. You can find one in most houses and they're relatively easy to install and maintain when compared to HVAC systems. And much cheaper to operate! The U.S. Department of Energy reports that air conditioners in the U.S. consume roughly 6 percent of all energy produced. If you have an air conditioning system, you can raise the thermostat a few degrees and use a fan to save on cooling costs. However, remember to turn the fan off when the room is unoccupied to prevent unnecessary energy consumption. Another advantage ceiling fans have over HVAC units is that they do not emit harmful gases or pollutants.
So ceiling fans are already great, efficient tools to keep your home comfortable. But what exactly are DC motor ceiling fans?
There are two types of electric motors – AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). Most household appliances, including most ceiling fans, use AC. With DC ceiling fans, a transformer converts your household electricity to DC. The DC motor runs much more efficiently—up to 70% less than an AC fan. On top of that, they are extremely quiet, eliminating the annoying hum that many AC fans produce.
One of the low-key features of DC motor fans is their versatility. Where most AC fans have just three speeds, a DC motor allows more variability. Five, six, or seven speeds are not unusual. And they're much easier to adjust. DC motor fans almost all run on remote control, including switching from summer to winter mode. No more climbing up onto a step ladder to find that little switch to change your fan's direction.
Another big bonus is that DC fan motors are more compact and lighter than the bulky AC motors we're all familiar with. That means designers have much more flexibility when it comes to aesthetics.
If you like the look and feel of a traditional ceiling fan, Hampton Bay's 54" Blakeford fan is the right choice for you. The five reversible blades help keep the fan in balance, and the four-speed reversible remote control lets you dial in the air flow speed and direction you're looking for, up to 5,246 cubic feet of air per minute. If the highly efficient fan isn't enough, the fixture includes two 9.5-watt LED bulbs to keep things bright. At $135, the Blakeford is a very efficient choice that won't break the bank.
We like the sleek lines of Harbor Breeze's Cartersville 60-inch fan. The chic gray blades combine with the understated black finish to give this svelte unit a real twenty-first-century feel. And with a 7,400 cubic-foot-per-minute capacity, it's the perfect choice for a great room or large living room. This model is a Lowe's exclusive at $230.00
Westinghouse's Damen 68" Nickel Luster Fan has a striking 8-blade design that looks fantastic, moves air efficiently, and comes with six speeds. It pushes up to 7,138 cubic feet of air per minute with just 31 watts. The slick-looking compact motor housing will make you forget the fusty perforated fan housings of yesteryear. It looks worth every dollar of its $536 price tag.