Ceiling Fan Direction for Summer and Winter

Sara Mandeed
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How do I change the direction of my ceiling fan?

Ceiling fans usually offer 3-way or 4-way control, and you can change the direction of a ceiling fan from any of the different setting.

First, identify which direction you want the fan to rotate. If you’ve had your fan running one way and you’re still comfortable in your room, check a box for the direction that the fan should be running. Most of the time, the tiny tabs or arrows on the fan’s blade direction will help you determine the right one. If you still don’t know, you can also check your ceiling fan’s manufacturer’s manual. Manufacturers typically label the different directions as…

  • clockwise ‗ this direction will push air down towards the ground and also push warm air away from the ceiling.
  • counterclockwise ‗ this direction will pull air up from the floor and pull warm air towards the ground.
  • off ‗ this will stop the fan completely.

Which Way Should My Fan Spin in the Summer?

In the summer, the fan should spin counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

You might be wondering why you need to know that? The reason is that hot air rises, so imagine yourself standing directly underneath your ceiling fan. In the winter, you’d assume that the air directly above your head would be colder than the air directly below your feet.

But the actual temperature of the air is usually the same all around you because hot air rises in your room. Consequently, the air that’s directly above your head is warmer compared to the air below your feet since the warm air from above has also risen.

So if you want to move the warmer air around, you need a device that spins with an upward motion, and the only device that does that are ceiling fans. Air movement alone doesn’t necessarily direct the movement of warmer air, but a ceiling fan does.

This is the ultimate guide to ceiling fans for heat and cold relief so that you can save energy on your air conditioning bill.

How can I tell if my fan is turning counter-clockwise?

The rotation of a ceiling fan can be a somewhat confusing topic. Generally speaking, ceiling fans will move their blades counter-clockwise as they spin. But many fans are switchable, so this can be easily adjusted. There are some interesting reasons for this rotation direction. First, for those that have been in the fan business for some time might remember that prior to 1990, ceiling fans were made to be run counter-clockwise. Reasons for this included safety concerns from market competition and potential liability issues. The electrical wiring in houses in the United States is configured so that if a secondary wire needed to be run in a wall, it would be safer to use the switch box on the bottom right. This would mean running the wire from the top counter-clockwise around the box to the bottom left. Now, in 1990, the code changed such that switch boxes could be reversed. A few years after that, switch boxes were changed so that they could be either top or bottom, and the direction stayed the same. But since the direction of rotation was now hard-coded into the motors, they had to stay in that direction. Even now in the 21st century, changing the rotation direction of a fan motor requires a rewire of that motor. So that’s why you see ceiling fans with the direction of rotation encoded into the motor.

Can a ceiling fan help me to save on energy costs?

This is not really what a ceiling fan is designed to do. If you have the option, you should have the fan on a timer switch, which will turn the fan on and off at different times of the day. This way, you always will have air circulation without burning up the electricity.

Fans are more expensive to operate than an air conditioner, but they do provide a more comfortable air flow. So you may want to use the fan during the summer and shut it off during the winter.

However, you probably don’t want to shut your fan off when you’re sleeping. It will cool things off during the night so they’re cooler when you wake up. In winter, you might want to turn your fan directions if the heat isn’t on, to help circulate the warm air.

Which Way Should My Fan Spin in the Winter?

Summer is approaching and you may be considering investing in a ceiling fan. First, think about what times of the year you will need it the most.

If you only need to cool down a room in the summertime, then it makes sense to purchase a summer-only ceiling fan. You will pay less investment because the fan will not be running during winter.

If you want to have both summer and winter use, then you will need to invest in a dual-season fan.

The best kind of ceiling fan is one that offers both cooling and heating for your home and you can do this by investing in a fan that’s reversible.

The reverse function allows you to change the direction of the blades. So if you wish to begin using the fan in the winter, then you can simply reverse the blade direction. This will allow you to warm up the room. Setting the fan to the opposite direction will send cold air downward and circulate the warm air from the ceiling.

So besides looking at the directionality of the fan, you also have to check if the blade direction is reversible.

How do I know if my fan is turning clockwise?

Most fans sold in America operate counterclockwise. If you live in Australia or Japan, however, your fans turn clockwise. Fans in Britain and some countries in Europe operate both ways.

Where do you live? You can run an internet search to find out whether your ceiling fans operate clockwise or counterclockwise.

Many people recommend using fans in the summertime, especially if you live in a hot climate. For south facing rooms and open rooms, a ceiling fan can be used to direct cool air towards you.

If you are using a ceiling fan correctly in the summer, you should feel a breeze. If you do not feel a breeze and the fan is running, the blades may be moving in the wrong direction. It’s also possible that the motor is providing the breeze while the blades are not moving.

Running a ceiling fan in the summer will help to push the warm air down and move it out of your home. It may also help keep the house cooler.

When it’s time to use a ceiling fan in the winter, it’s a different story. A ceiling fan in the winter helps to circulate the air and move warm air down toward the floor. This will help to blow warm air near your legs as you sit in your favorite chair.

I can’t feel the breeze in either direction. What does that mean?

To put it simply, a ceiling fan’s purpose is to make you feel like the air is moving, even if the fan speed is the same. Because of this, you want to make sure that the blade pitch (length) matches the size of your room for maximum effect. To make things somewhat backward, let’s start with the smaller room size and work our way up.

If your ceiling fan is in a smaller room, for example a living room, you will want to choose a blade that has a shorter length. The shorter blade will spin faster when the ceiling fan is set to the same speed as a longer blade. This will create the feeling that the air is moving. On the other hand, the shorter blade will have less air movement for your given fan setting, so if you want to move a lot of air, you will have to choose a fan setting that spins faster, regardless of blade pitch.

The next size room we come to is the average size room. This room would best be served by a medium blade length. This is the most common blade pitch for ceiling fans. Finally, for rooms that are quite large, you will want to pick a ceiling fan with a blade pitch that is longer. This will give you a larger range of fan speeds to move the air more efficiently.

When to Break the Rules

This might sound like a silly question. Isn’t it always summer when it’s hot outside? And winter when it’s cold? But in the case of a ceiling fan, it’s not quite that simple.

In summer, you want to make sure that you’re circulating enough air that everything feels cool. You should have your ceiling fans pointed down toward the floor, toward the outside, or in the warmer direction of your choice.

This will help cool the room. Which, of course, just makes sense.

One of the biggest mistakes people make with ceiling fans is that they use them to give the illusion the room temperature is lower than it actually is. When the ceiling fan blades are pointed down, it’s the equivalent of pointing a honking big hair dryer at you.

When the room is cool, it’ll soften the overall feel of the room. But when the room is actually hot, it only serves to give you the sensation that the air is cooler than it is.

You shouldn’t direct your ceiling fan to the side or upward.

The most important thing to remember is that the breeze that’s produced from the ceiling fan is dependent on how fast it’s spinning.

Choose the Right Ceiling Fan for You

In the Northern hemisphere, we “enjoy” winter when the temperature is below 18° while we usually have hot summer when temperature goes above 80°.

So you can guess how when the weather gets hot outside, we tend to look for ways to cool our indoor living space.

Installing a ceiling fan is an inexpensive way to make your room cool. But besides its cooling effect, your ceiling fan can do more than you think.

Initially the ceiling fan was designed as an economizer and to keep the hot air circulating.

Having a ceiling fan in the room helps to cool the whole house during hot summer days because it allows air to move much more freely around the space.

That’s because a ceiling fan is installed directly above your head, while the floor fan is installed above the floor. This difference in height causes air to be forced upwards, thus creating circulation that can cool you down.

So, here’s a quick info about how and when to use your ceiling fan throughout the year.