Ceiling fan direction, by WonderQuest

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Ceiling fan direction

Q: Which way is forward on a ceiling fan? Which way should it go during the heating season?

Ceiling fan pictureA 6-speed ceiling lamp.  Photo courtesy of Lamp Depot

A: Fans come with a forward and a reverse setting. When you click it to 'forward', the fan blows the air down. Standing under the fan, you will feel a breeze. When you click it to 'reverse', the fan reverses rotation and blows the air up. Now, when you stand under the fan, you won't feel a breeze.

So, during the winter, turn the fan to 'reverse' to circulate the warm air without blowing air down and cooling you in the process. Hot air rises and a ceiling fan, running in reverse, gently mixes the air.

During the summer, on the other hand, turn it to 'forward' to create a wind-chill effect as the air moves against your skin and cools you.

So far, what I've said holds true for rooms with standard 8-foot ceilings. Fan companies recommend this procedure.

"Some people with higher ceilings, like a stairwell, often do the opposite of this," Marcus of Lamp Depot says and explains their rationale. Cool air sinks to the floor, which causes the lower levels to be cooler and the upper levels hotter. So, in the summer, they run the fan in a blowing-up direction to keep cool air-conditioned air, which is coming out of their upstairs vents, upstairs where they want it.

In the winter, they run the fan in the blowing-down direction to move warm air into the lower levels of the house where they spend their time during the day. They feel no draft downstairs because they are too far away from the fan.

Further Reading:

More on ceiling fans — how to tell which way is 'forward', WonderQuest

Lamp Depot information service






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