Which Way Should A Ceiling Fan Turn: Winter & Summer Guide

Among the many uses of a ceiling fan in your home is that it dresses the ceiling eliminating the bare, naked look and introducing some character. It also heats and cools the house, and you can use it all year round.

A ceiling fan circulates air and depending on how its blades turn, it can cool or warm the room. So which way should a ceiling fan turn in winter and summer?

During summer, the blades should rotate counterclockwise, and in winter, they rotate clockwise. The direction and speed of the blades determine whether the air will go down or up. Downward moving air at high speeds results in cool air, while upward moving air at low speed brings warm air.

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.

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Does Ceiling Fan Direction Really Matter?

The direction in which the blades of a ceiling fan rotate matters because it determines how cold or warm the air becomes in the room. 

When the blades move counterclockwise at a fast pace, they create a breeze. As the blades move counterclockwise, they push the cool air downwards, creating a wind-chill during the summer heat.

On the other hand, when the blades move clockwise at low speeds, they gently disburse the warm air hanging around near the ceiling. The warm air is recirculated all over the room.

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, thick air sinks to the bottom.

In winter, the lazy ceiling fan blades distribute the light, warm layer of air in gentle wafts as it turns clockwise. The warm air pushes downwards, displacing the cold air and warming the room. 

In summer, it turns counterclockwise in a burst of speed. As a result, dense, thick cold air hanging near the floor is disbursed upwards. As a result, the warm air near the ceiling is displaced, cooling the entire room.

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

So, it does matter which direction the fan blades turn.

Should A Ceiling Fan Go Clockwise?

In winter, your fan must turn in a clockwise direction to ensure the house remains warm. The last thing you want in the winter is to experience the wind-chill effect, which comes with the counterclockwise direction. 

However, if you are experiencing summer heat, the fan should be set to turn counterclockwise to cool your space.

Does Reversing A Ceiling Fan Work?

Reversing a ceiling fan works, and it will create the right room temperature depending on the time of the day or year.

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

Here are daily scenarios in which reversing the direction of your ceiling fan works to enhance your comfort:

  1. It Creates A Warm Ambiance In The Bedroom

The bedroom is not typically a large space. It is quick for the air to become overly cold when you leave the windows or doors open. 

A ceiling fan helps to keep the air warm when in reverse. The best bedroom temperature for sleep is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and your fan can help you achieve that optimal temperature.

If the air becomes too warm for you, forward the ceiling fan to make the air cool and dispel the stale air. 

  1. It Airs The Room

Smoke, damp smells, and other odors can ruin the ambiance of your home. But you can eliminate these smells by running your ceiling fan clockwise, medium to full speed to expunge the air.

The clockwise motion causes an upward and outward draft. Keep the windows and doors open for the draft to escape as it moves outwards within the room.

If you turn the fan counterclockwise, you push the air downwards, and to the center of the room. So the air doesn’t move towards the windows.

  1. It Creates A Relaxing Living Room Ambiance

The living room tends to be the largest in the house. For it to be comfortable, you need to ensure the air circulates.

Moderate speeds in a clockwise motion will guarantee warm air in the living room.

If the room becomes too warm, you can run the fan forward for some crisp air. 

How To Control Your Ceiling Fan

There are four ways to control a ceiling fan. They include

  1. Working With The Wall Control

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

  1. Using A Hand-held Remote

The hand-held remote 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 also the remote control for convenience.

  1. Utilizing An App

Smartphone apps can help you to control the ceiling fan even when you are not at home. You can begin to cool or warm the house on the drive home so that you walk into a comfortable environment for yourself.

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 In A Ceiling Fan

There are several things that you should look for in finding the best ceiling fan for you. Here are factors to look for in a ceiling 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 there are several sizes available on the market to choose from. The table below gives you the fan blade size and appropriate square footage for it.

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, kids 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

For high ceilings, you need to choose a fan with a long download 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 to have 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 are using an air conditioner. 

But when you use a ceiling fan, you can turn your thermostat to a warm setting, and the house will still remain cool. When the thermostat is closer to the outdoor temperature, you make significant cost savings. 

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 tests for efficiency and energy saving. 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 In 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 pleasant appeals for 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 at the same time. They can be useful in layering the lights in a room because they come with features like dimmers.

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

What Happens If The Fan Rotates In The Opposite Direction?

The running mechanism of a ceiling fan is simple: Clockwise or counterclockwise.

Depending on what you want the fan to do, you will run it one way or the other.

If you want it to warm the room, run it clockwise. And to cool the room, run it counterclockwise.

How Can You Tell If A Fan Is Going Clockwise Or Counterclockwise?

Clockwise is the same direction as an analog clock. It is also the same direction as a circular motion that turns to the right.

Counterclockwise is a circular motion turning to the left. Some manufacturers label the directions as forward and reverse.

The rotation is changeable with the flip of a switch.

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 not only 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.

With a ceiling fan, you can enjoy year-round value no matter which way the blades turn.

Sources

Why You Should Change the Direction of Ceiling Fans in Winter

Why Reverse Direction On a Ceiling Fan?

Choosing the Right Ceiling Fan Size

Ceiling Fan Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Ceiling Fan

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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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