Understanding ceiling fan airflow
There’s nothing like the feeling of a cool breeze from a fan during a summer day. To achieve it, you need a ceiling fan that moves the most air. When choosing the right fan, some look at the CFM (cubic feet per minute) number on the box or online product page. While CFM does talk about the air in relation to the fan, there are a lot more factors that go into a fan that produces the best airflow.
Ceiling fan CFM versus air velocity
The first thing to understand when evaluating which ceiling fan moves the most air and will cool you best is the difference between CFM and velocity.
- CFM measures the volume of air a fan moves in cubic feet. Our lab technicians measure a fan’s CFM when its running on high and low speed, then calculate the average. The testing measures are based on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) idea of average daily fan use.
- Air velocity relates to the speed the airflow is moving and is traditionally measured using miles per hour (mph).
Simply put: CFM measures how much air is being moved while velocity measures how fast it moves. We measure and grade our SureSpeed® ceiling fans based on airflow instead of CFM because airflow more directly translates to what you feel from a fan. Ceiling fans cool people by using the “wind chill effect” – and the faster the air comes from the fan, the cooler you’ll feel. It’s a lot like when you have the window open in a moving car. Hunter ceiling fans still produce high CFM ratings. We optimize our fans’ motors and blade pitch to move a lot of air while consuming less energy.
How many blades are best on ceiling fans
The number of blades on the fan aren’t necessarily an indicator of ceiling fan airflow, but rather the shape. Our engineering team created a contoured, aerodynamic blade design for our SureSpeed ceiling fans that push air more efficiently compared to standard flat blades. Our SureSpeed precision blades produce a more uniform and smooth flow of cooling air instead of chopping or cutting through the air like the traditional flat blade.
Ceiling fan size
Size is a big factor in efficient ceiling fan airflow. Installing a fan that's too small for your space won't circulate air effectively throughout the room. Alternatively, installing a fan that's too large for the space could overpower the room, even on a lower setting. Keep in mind that larger fans will also tend to have higher CFM due to the surface area, but that doesn’t always translate to air velocity. Be sure to look for SureSpeed if you really want to feel the difference. Our buying guide is a great resource for learning what the right ceiling fan size is for your space to produce the best airflow.
Ceiling fan direction
To get the most out of ceiling fan airflow, you’ll want to make sure your ceiling fan is spinning counterclockwise in the summer. This creates a downdraft, which you feel as a cool breeze when you’re sitting under the fan. Having the fan on high speed and spinning counterclockwise will give you the coolest breeze.
During the winter, you’ll want your ceiling fan to spin clockwise on the lowest speed. The updraft helps move warm air trapped at the ceiling around the room. If you have the fan spinning clockwise but on high-speed, it counteracts the warming effect.
Our designers' mission is to create stylish, timelesss ceiling fans that also provide energy-efficient airflow. They work closely with our engineering team to create designs that also produce optimized airflow, from the interior components to the blade shape. Learn more about choosing the right ceiling fan with optimal airflow by exploring our buying guide.