In the last post, we talked about a number of methods to stay cool in the heat of summer. Fans are a must-have without an AC unit and were the number one fixture to help alleviate the heat. So, in part 2 (of 2) we will look at fans in our homes year-round, some pros and cons and some installation notes.
Which Way Should the Fans Turn?
This is a question that comes up an awful lot and is something that the majority of people don’t even know about and do incorrectly. The real question should be how do you want the fan to make you feel?
Warm or Cool?
Let’s do a recap on how the fan works to keep you cool. The first thing to remember is that the fan has very little to do with the actual temperature in the room. In the summertime, say, you want to be cool. The fan will draw up cooler air from the floor and circulate the warmer air around so the heat doesn’t just hang there. The air temperature difference between the floor and the ceiling won’t vary much, so once the fan starts to circulate the air, you’ll get something like the average temperature in the room. For example, 28C on the floor and 32C on the ceiling, once the fan blends it all up, everything is sitting at 30C.
It is the air movement that gives you the feeling of cool. The fan blows air over your skin. This air movement helps evaporate the moisture your body creates to cool itself, therefore allowing your body to create more moisture and cool itself more. It’s still 30C, it just feels like 27C because your body is able to cool itself. This is a windchill effect.
If you want to feel warmer, then the fan does the same thing, but in reverse. By blending the air temperature in the room without the windchill, your body won’t cool as quickly, which in turn will leave you feeling warmer. All you need to do is have the fan spin in the opposite direction.
Clockwise or Counterclockwise?
The easiest way to figure out which direction is the right direction, is to stand directly under it. If you can feel the air movement over your skin, that’s the windchill. This means it will make you feel cooler. If you can’t feel it, then there is no windchill and you will feel warmer. Windchill for summer, no windchill for winter. Pretty easy. Box fans operate under the same premise. If you want to feel cooler, point the fan at yourself. Otherwise point the fan away from yourself. Pretty straight forward.
I try not to use clockwise or counter clockwise because it can be relative. Clockwise with the blades tipped left to right will create one effect, while clockwise with the blades tipped right to left will create the other. It’s easier to follow the simple rule stated above.
Fan Pros and Cons
There aren’t really that many pros or cons to ceiling fans. There are a few things to note about them. The first one is where you are going to put them. Ceiling fans in a kitchen/dinette are a great location. Nobody wants to eat in a hot room, and a dinette that is attached to the kitchen will be just that. Too hot. Bedrooms are also a great place. You can move stale air around and create a little breeze to blow over you while you sleep. Hallways are not a great place for ceiling fans. Because ceiling fans move air vertically, not horizontally (or down the hall), they don’t do much to help.
Secondly, fans should not be running all of the time. Because they only really make you feel cooler and don’t actually cool the air, having them run all the time is only wasted power. Obviously if you are using the fan to circulate air to keep a room from getting stale, then it needs to run more often. Otherwise, save power and only run the fan when you are in the room.
Lastly, ceiling fans can come with a light or without. The downside to the light is that it is often not enough light to properly light a room. The light kits tend to support a single 100w bulb while most bedroom fixtures support 3x 100w bulbs. Having said that, the new LED light kits do tend to generate more lumens (brighter). Just be sure to check on the box to see what kind of light is part of the kit.
Don’t Have a Fan, But Want One?
I would say that changing out an old bedroom fixture for a ceiling fan is nearing the top of what a handyman should be doing himself. There are a few things to consider before simply putting one up. The first thing to consider is whether or not the old ceiling electrical box is installed in such a way that it will support the ceiling fan. The last thing you want is for it to fall off the ceiling. And they are fairly heavy. It is important to check and see if there is any blocking or if blocking needs to be added. There are also electrical boxes rated for ceiling fans. More often than not, those should be installed where the current box was.
Like always, you should be checking in the box to see if there is any aluminum wiring. This is as good an opportunity to check as any. If you find any, stop and call a qualified electrician. Remember, this is your biggest investment and only a small job to ensure the safety of your home and family.
If you’d like to discuss more or have a wiring situation you would like a professional electrician to look at – give me a call at 306-551-5254!