Which Ceiling Fan Direction for Summer & Winter

Ceiling fans are a great way to cool your home in the summer and circulate heat in the winter. A ceiling fan circulates air depending on the direction the blades turn.

When spinning in the right direction, a ceiling fan can circulate cool air during summer and warm air in the winter. But which way should your ceiling fan spin for each season?

During summer, the ceiling fan blades should rotate counterclockwise to push air towards the ground. They should turn in a clockwise direction to circulate warmer air trapped near the ceiling in winter. There is a small switch on the side of the motor housing to change the spin direction. Some newer ceiling fans can be changed by remote control.

Ceiling fans have a direction switch with an up and down position.

Counterclockwise Spin = Forward = Summer Mode. The switch should be in the down position.

Clockwise Spin = Reverse = Winter Mode. The switch should be in the up position.

The direction and speed of the blades determine whether the air will go down or up. Downward moving air at high speed results in cooler air. Upward moving air at a low speed circulates warm air from the ceiling downward to warm the room.

In this guide, you will find out which way a ceiling fan should turn in summer and winter. It will also explore how ceiling fans work.

Does Ceiling Fan Direction Matter?

The ceiling fan direction matters because it determines the air movement in a room. The wrong seasonal setting can circulate hot air during the summer and cold air during the winter resulting in higher heating bills. 

Warm and cold air naturally occurs in any room due to air stratification. Air stratification is the layering of air in which large pockets of thin warm air rise higher, and dense cooler air sinks lower.

Air stratification causes uneven room temperatures, and the ceiling fan moves the layers of air around for even temperature.

A correct ceiling fan direction setting can regulate the temperature of the room and save on utility bills.

Ceiling Fan Direction in Hot Summer Months

The counterclockwise direction of the fan blades creates cool air circulation in warmer months. When the ceiling fan turns counterclockwise, the direction of its spin creates a cooling sensation as the blades force air downward.

During the summer months, many people enjoy a ceiling fan on a screened-in porch or covered patio. The fan direction settings are the same on an outdoor ceiling fan. You’ll want the outdoor fan to turn in a counterclockwise direction to keep the space breezy and comfortable.

Ceiling Fan Direction in Cold Winter Months

On the other hand, when the ceiling fan blades move clockwise at the lowest speed, they gently disburse the warmer air near the ceiling. The fan forces the warmer air to recirculate in the room.

During cooler months, hot air gets trapped against the ceiling. A slow ceiling fan turn can cause a gentle updraft forcing warmer stagnant air to move. The right ceiling fan direction setting keeps the room warmer and causes your heating system to work less.

If you have a vaulted ceiling, the clockwise setting is even more important. With vaulted ceilings, you can have a large space for hot air to accumulate. Depending on the ceiling height and how low the fan hangs from the ceiling, you may need to run the fan at a higher speed to move enough air.

What Happens if the Fan Rotates in the Wrong Direction?

A ceiling fan will spin either clockwise or counterclockwise. Depending on what you want the fan to do, you will run it one way or another.

If you want it to warm the room during winter, run it clockwise. To cool the room on those hot summer days, run it counterclockwise.

A ceiling fan turning in the wrong direction during the winter creates a wind-chill effect.

Likewise, a ceiling fan turning in the wrong direction won’t keep you cool in the summer.

How to Control a Ceiling Fan

There are generally four ways to control a ceiling fan. Some older fans won’t have all these options. A more modern fan could have all these control options.

  1. Working With The Wall Control

The control panel is installed into the wall. You have to go to the panel to set the ceiling fan physically. Some people prefer this option because you cannot misplace it.

  1. Using a Remote Control

The hand-held remote control allows you to control a ceiling fan from any place in the house. It offers several modes and settings, and in some cases, you can have different settings for the various rooms in the house.

  1. Utilizing the Combo

The combo allows you to control the fan either using a hand-held remote or from wall control. You will have the wall panel in place and the remote control for convenience.

  1. Utilizing an App

Smartphone apps can help you control the ceiling fan even when you are not at home. You can begin to cool or warm the house on the drive home to walk into a comfortable environment for yourself. This is a popular feature with modern ceiling fans.

If you have a smart ceiling, you can use home virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Home to control its settings. 

What to Look for When Buying a Ceiling Fan

You should look for several things in finding the best ceiling fan for you. Here are factors to look for in a ceiling fan. 

Fan Size

The larger the room, the bigger the fan it needs. For example, a small room of 50 square feet, like a bathroom, needs a fan with a 29-inch fan blade span. On the other hand, a large room measuring over 400 square feet needs at least 54 inches or above in blade span.

The good news is that several sizes are available on the market. The table below gives you the fan blade size and appropriate square footage.

Square feet Ceiling fan blade sizeBest use
50 to 75 square feet29 to 36 inchesUse in bathroom, utility room, or reading nooks
75 to 175 square feet42 to 48 inchesSmall rooms like dining area, kid’s bedrooms, kitchen
175 to 400 square feet52 to 56 inchesMaster bedrooms, Entertainment roos, living room
400 square feet and above60 inches and aboveExpansive dining room, great room, or ballroom

Height

It would be best to choose a fan with a long download for high ceilings to suspend it. The fan should hang at least eight inches from the ceiling surface. 

You can have the fan flush against the ceiling or with a short downrod of two inches. That way, the fan hugs the ceiling.

In both cases, the bottom of the fan should be at least seven feet off the floor.

Construction

Ensure the construction of the fan is compatible with the section of the house you will use it in. 

For example, the ceiling fan in the bathroom should be UL-listed for damp locations. That will prevent the hazard of short-circuiting when the ceiling wiring comes into contact with moisture in the bathroom. 

If the fan is for the patio, it should be UL-listed for wet locations because of rain and snow. But the good news is that the patio fan can work outdoors and indoors because it comes with a protective covering for the motor.

Pitch

The pitch of the blades will determine how much air circulates in the room. The ideal blade pitch for a ceiling fan is between 12 and 15 degrees. 

This pitch allows the optimal amount of air to circulate. So you do not feel too much of the wind chill effect. However, you have enough air to generate a cool breeze.

If you want more circulation, angle the pitch to higher than 15 degrees. A pitch of less than 12 degrees will not circulate air efficiently.

Motor

Heavy-duty motors work best because of the amount of work your ceiling fan has to do. 

Low-quality motors are noisy, and they offer less circulation. Also, make sure the motor comes with a warranty. The best ceiling fans come with in-house service and a lifetime warranty. 

Ease Of Installation  

Most ceiling fans come with step-by-step instructions to help you with installation. However, you may need to call a professional to get the wiring right. 

Make sure that the ceiling fan is easy to install. And it should also come with the correct wiring compatible with your electric system.

Benefits of a Ceiling Fan

The following are the benefits of having a ceiling fan.

Saves Energy Costs

Using the ceiling fan enables you to avoid using the air conditioning. When temperatures rise, so do your cooling costs if you use an air conditioner. 

But when you use a ceiling fan, you can turn your thermostat to a warm setting, and the house will remain cool. When the thermostat is closer to the outdoor temperature, you significantly save costs. 

Your average ceiling fan consumes only 75 watts of power at its highest setting. Compared to the 750 watts of an electric heater and 2,000 watts of an air conditioner, that is a negligible cost.

Of course, the amount of energy savings you make depends on the size of the house, climate, and cost of electricity in your locale. However, it is still cheaper to use a ceiling fan with all these factors considered.

An Energy Star-qualified fan offers the best energy saving because it has passed efficiency and energy-saving tests. Look for a ceiling fan that has been given this label by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

The best part is that Energy-Star-qualified fans come with a three to ten-year components warranty. Some come with a limited lifetime warranty.

Injects Aesthetic Appeal into a Room

Ceiling fans come in all shapes and colors. They can have a floral theme, a tropical theme, or a rustic wood one. Having a ceiling fan is an excellent way to dress your ceiling, improving the pleasant appeal of your room.

You can use a ceiling fan to bring style and beauty to any room in the home. They come in an array of designs and colors to compliment your home’s decor in addition to adorning the ceiling.

It also creates a strong focal point in the room.

Their aesthetic benefit applies whether you have a high or low ceiling.

Offers Illumination

Ceiling fans that come with lights are an excellent way to light and cool your home simultaneously. They can help layer the lights in a room because they come with features like dimmers.

You can switch from bright to dim lights as the day winds down by flipping a switch.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Tell if a Fan is Going CounterClockwise?

Counterclockwise is a circular motion turning to the left. Some manufacturers label the switch as Forward.

If you place your hand directly under the ceiling fan and can feel the air moving, the fan is in a counterclockwise rotation.

Does Reversing a Ceiling Fan Work?

Reversing a ceiling fan works by moving warmer air from the ceiling down towards the floor. It will create even room temperatures during cold months and reduces strain on your heating system.

When you reverse your ceiling fan, you get warm air in the room.

Should a Ceiling Fan Turn Clockwise?

Your ceiling fan blades fan should turn clockwise at the lowest speed to ensure the house remains warm in winter. During the summer heat, you’ll need the correct setting to create cool air movement.

How to Tell if a Fan is Going Clockwise?

Clockwise is the same direction as an analog clock. It is also the same direction as a circular motion that turns to the right. Some manufacturers call this the Reverse Switch.

If a ceiling fan is turning clockwise, you won’t feel downward airflow directly underneath the fan. The fan will be pushing air upward towards the ceiling.

Conclusion

If your ceiling fan only goes one way, you have to depend on other elements in the house for warming or cooling your home.

For example, you may need to use a furnace for heating or air conditioning for cooling because your fan is limited in reversibility and vice versa.

But using a reversible ceiling fan will allow you to keep sail through both summer and winter, but it will also keep your energy costs low and sustainable for your home.

Some models even improve the air quality in your home by ionizing the air.

You can enjoy year-round value with a ceiling fan no matter which way the blades turn.

Photo of author

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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