Outdoor Ceiling Fans, Which Type Is Right for You?
When choosing an outdoor ceiling fan, the first thing to consider is whether your fan will be in a covered location, like a back porch or patio, or will it be totally exposed to direct rainfall like under a pergola? The reason this is an important consideration is because there are two different types of outdoor ceiling fans available. Of course at Palm Fan Store we have more than two different models to choose from, but some fans for outdoor use are made to withstand dampness only, whereas others can withstand direct contact with rain. In this article you will learn the differences, along with some models we suggest for each use.
The first outdoor ceiling fans were UL Listed for damp location use. These are UL Damp Rated fans. What this means is that the fans are finished to help resist corrosion and the blades on the original damp locations models were made of plastic, with the better ones using a special heat resistant ABS plastic. Plastic blades were originally used to resist warpage from humidity. The advantage of the better ABS plastic is that it not only resist humidity, but also resist warpage from heat. However, since the original fans made for outdoor use started appearing, some fan companies have taken the blades on these fans a step further. Gulf-Coast Fans for example, offers a fan with solid furniture-grade wood blades for outdoor use and the blades will not warp. These blades cannot stand up to direct rain like the wet location fan's blades can that we will talk about later, but they offer a high-end sense of style that the plastic ones simply cannot offer. The 58" 100 Series Raindance is one such fan. The Raindance motor has always been designed for wet locations, but being this fan is highly customizable, the blades will determin its true location. Whereas the Raindance's use is usually determined by the type blades used, most other damp rated fans are determined by how well the motor is sealed. Damp rated fan motors are not completely sealed to keep water out, and that is why they cannot take contract from direct rainfall. Keep in mind, a little blowing rain that may mist on a damp location fan will not hurt them, but constant direct rain coming in from above the fan will.
Now, onto Wet Rated Outdoor Ceiling Fans. Most all Wet Location Ceiling Fans will use plastic blades, as they have to because constant water contact to the blades can cause serious damage over time to more natural materials such as wood or rattan. As with the damp locations fans, the better wet location ceiling fans are going to use the special ABS blades because of its high tolerance to heat. This will mean absolutely no warpage from any of natures elements. Although, it is hard to duplicate solid woods or bamboo out of plastics, some fan companies to an outstanding job of making a person have to really look hard to tell the difference, making your wet rated fan look as good as any damp rated fan. Again, the Gulf-Coast Raindance with its wet rated ABS bamboo blades does a great job of keeping a high-end look in a wet outdoor fan model. Some will even use cavas blades that have been chemically treated to prevent fading and deterioration, these create a great Nautical Ceiling Fans style.
Besides the blade difference, outdoor fans rated for wet locations also are sealed better to keep water out. Since they are meant to be installed under a pergola or lanai where water can rain directly down onto them, these fans will have special protections against allowing water to get into the ceiling fan where it can do any harm. Most models have special rubber sheilds around the area where the 3-speed pull chains will come out from the switch housing, as well as a special rubber shield around the reverse switch, if the fan has the reverse feature. Most will also have silicone injected into the area where the wiring comes up from the motor leading to your ceiling. This is another protection to keep water out of the electrical areas of the fan that isn't needed with the damp outdoor fans.
Now that you know the difference in the two ratings and what makes one fan damp rated and the other wet rated, the next thing you should consider is airflow. When choosign an outdoor ceiling fan keep in mind that without enough airflow the fan will not keep you cool. Ceiling fans only cool by creating a wind chill effect. So, the more air it blows, the cooler you feel. Unlike an indoor area, most places outdoor fans are installed do not have four walls to keep the air contained. Also, most homes today have central air conditioning, outside the temperature is only controlled by how hot or cool the day may be. On a hot day you will need more airflow to create a greater wind chill effect from the fan to keep you cool. Because of this we recommend a larger fan for outdoor use than what you may normally choose for indoor use. It is also a good idea to look at the Energy Information Labels shown on all fans before making your decision, and in doing so only pay attention to the Airflow Cubic Feet Per Minute rating. The electricity usage rating and the airflow efficiency mean nothing as for how cool an outdoor fan can make you feel, cubic feet per minute does, and the more the better! If you were to install a ceiling fan that doesn't move enough air outside, whatever energy it uses when in operation is a complete waste of energy since the fan isn't doing its purpose in keeping you cool. Just a thought to keep in mind when reading Energy Information Labels on fans to help you decide which is the most important number to consider.
With this information we, at Palm Fan Store, hope you have a better understanding of which outdoor fan is right for you. Don't forgot though, although you should never use a damp location ceiling fan in a wet location area, there is no reason you can't use a wet location ceiling fan in a damp only area, such as a covered porch. Whether you choose Casablanca Ceiling Fans, Craftmade, Ellington, Gulf-Coast, Hunter Ceiling Fans or any of our other brands, the most important things is... ENJOY YOUR NEW FAN!