Are you thinking about installing a ceiling fan above your porch? Especially in hot, humid regions, porch ceiling fans can be a great investment. They can make your porch much more comfortable by circulating the air, causing it to feel cooler. But, how do you decide how many porch ceiling fans to install and where to put them? We've done the research, and we have the answers for you!
The number of porch ceiling fans you need depends on the size of the space you want to cool and the size and airflow capacity of the fans. Divide the total length of the porch by the diameter of the area covered by one fan; this will tell you how many fans you need to cover the entire porch.
In the remainder of this article, we'll describe how to how to know what number and size of porch ceiling fans you need, how to decide where to mount them on your porch, and other considerations in selecting ceiling fans for your porch. We'll also show you how to calculate the cost of running your ceiling fan, as well as whether you can run it for long periods without damaging it. Keep reading to learn more!
How Many Porch Ceiling Fans Do You Need?
The number of porch ceiling fans you will need is determined by two key factors: the size and shape of the area you wish to cool and the capacity of the fans to move air.
Size And Shape Of Porch
If you have a square porch with a single seating area, you will probably want to install just one porch ceiling fan in the middle of the space. In this case, the size of the space will determine how large a fan you choose. On the other hand, if your porch is long and narrow (a front porch on a farmhouse, for example), it may be optimal to install multiple, smaller ceiling fans at equal intervals. Or, if your porch includes multiple distinct seating areas, you could choose to install a ceiling fan over each one.
Cooling And Airflow Of Fans
Your porch ceiling fan's capacity to circulate air is an important factor in deciding how many to install. The manufacturer's specifications tell you how many cubic feet of air the fan will move, per minute, at its highest speed (its CFM rating). This helps you determine the square footage that each of your porch ceiling fans will cool.
Following is an optimal range of ceiling fan CFM ratings for various porch sizes:
- Under 12 linear feet (up to 144 square feet): 2,000 - 3,000 CFM
- 12-15 linear feet (145-225 square feet): 3,000 - 4,500 CFM
- 15-20 linear feet (226-400 square feet): 4,000 - 6,500 CFM
- More than 20 linear feet (400+ square feet): 7,500 - 12,000 CFM
How Do You Know What Size Ceiling Fan To Get?
You should select a ceiling fan that looks appropriate in the space provided -- not too large and not too small. In addition, the fan needs to move enough air to cool the space, but not so much that people under it become chilled. The following guidelines provide a range of fan diameters for exterior spaces of various sizes.
- Up to 75 square feet: 29-36 inch diameter
- 76-144 square feet: 36-42 inch diameter
- 145-225 square feet: 44-48 inch diameter
- 225-400 square feet: 50-54 inch diameter
- 400+ square feet: 65-96 inch diameter
How Far Apart Should Outdoor Ceiling Fans Be?
The shape and dimensions of your porch determine the placement of its ceiling fans. A small, square porch may require only one fan; a long, narrow one may need two or more. It's important to consider both functionality and appearance in making this decision.
Position your porch ceiling fans so that the outer edge of the circulation from one fan barely touches the outer edges of the circulation from those on either side of it. For example, imagine you want to cool a 24-foot stretch of your porch, and you choose a ceiling fan model rated to circulate air in an 8-foot by 8-foot area. Buy three fans and position them as follows:
- Mount the first fan 4 feet from one end of the porch, so it cools the first 8 feet of the area.
- Install another fan 4 feet from the other end of the porch. It will thus cool 8 feet at that end.
- This leaves an 8-foot stretch in the middle that is not covered by either fan. Place the third fan in the center of that space, covering the entire 8 feet in the middle of the porch area.
Thus, you will have equal coverage over the entire length of your porch, with each fan covering an area 8 feet in length.
Your porch ceiling fans should present a balanced look that enhances the appearance of your home's exterior. In the example above, the numbers worked perfectly: the three fans were placed equidistant, and their coverage areas barely touched each other. If your porch is 22 feet long, instead of 24 feet, you still need three fans. Place one at the center of the porch's length (11 feet from either end); position the other two 3 1/2 feet from the ends of the porch. So, you'll still have a symmetrical look, the fans will be 7 feet apart from each other, and the coverage areas of the fans will overlap slightly.
Other Considerations When Buying A Porch Ceiling Fan
Damp- Or Wet-Rating
Outdoor ceiling fans are exposed to varying levels of moisture. A fan in a roofless structure such as a pergola or a patio comes in direct contact with rain, so the housing for its motor must be waterproof. These fans are "wet-rated." By contrast, for a covered porch where your ceiling fan will not be directly exposed to water, you can choose a "damp-rated" fan whose housing is water-resistant but not waterproof. Never use an indoor ("dry-rated") ceiling fan on a porch or other outdoor setting.
Your ceiling fan should complement the look of your home's exterior as well as the furniture and decor on your porch. Wet- and damp-rated ceiling fans are available in various colors, materials, and styles, from rustic dark wood and black metal like the one shown below to ultra-modern chrome with propeller-style blades. With a little persistence, you can find the fan perfect for your porch.
Many outdoor ceiling fans come with accessories designed to enhance convenience. The most important of these are remote control and integrated lighting.
A remote control makes it easy for the owner to adjust the speed and direction of the fan's blades. Many outdoor ceiling fans now come with remote controls, so if this feature is important to you, double-check that the fan you select has one.
You may also choose a ceiling fan with built-in lighting if you need light bright enough for reading or playing cards on the porch after dark. A ceiling fan with LED lighting is optimal: LED bulbs last for years and are highly energy-efficient.
A final consideration is the way your fan mounts to the porch's ceiling. If the ceiling is relatively low, you will need to purchase a "flush-mounted" fan -- whose housing is attached directly to the ceiling. For higher porch ceilings, you may use a fan that hangs from the ceiling via a "downrod."
Basic considerations for positioning a ceiling fan on your porch include:
- The fan blades should be at least 12" below the porch ceiling
- Leave at least 24" between the tips of the fan blades and the nearest wall
- Ensure that the fan blades are at least 84" above the porch floor.
Does Running A Fan Use A Lot Of Electricity?
Fans rely on electric motors to move their blades; however, they use relatively little power compared with other appliances. Most ceiling fans produced in the last two decades run on Direct Current (DC) electricity, rather than the Alternating Current (AC) that was the standard before the early 2000s. DC motors use about 75% less electricity than those that run on AC.
To determine how much it will cost to run a particular ceiling fan, follow this three-step process:
- Look up the wattage used by the fan (the manufacturer is required to print this information on the box).
- Multiply the wattage by the number of hours per day that you expect to run the fan.
- Multiply this number by the cost of electricity (per kilowatt-hour) in your area.
This will calculate your cost per day to operate the ceiling fan (not including lights, if it has them). Multiply the cost per day by 30 to get an approximate monthly operating cost.
Can I Run A Ceiling Fan 24/7?
Ceiling fans nowadays are designed to run for extended periods without suffering any damage. You can run your ceiling fan pretty much constantly -- but doing so may not be the best idea for a couple of reasons. First, ceiling fans run on motors, and motors generate heat; so, running the motor releases a small amount of heat into the room, which works against the cooling effect of the fan. Second, if you keep the fan running when no one is home to enjoy it, you may be wasting electricity.
Adding one or more ceiling fans to your porch can help make it a cool, comfortable haven throughout the year. By following the guidelines in this article, you can select the perfect fan to keep your porch looking and feeling great for years to come!
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