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The Energy Protection Act and the Effect On Today's Ceiling Fans

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By Jeff Eller 1 month ago 212 Views No comments

The Energy Protection Act and the Effect On Today’s Ceiling Fans

84 Inch Ceiling Fan Titan by TroposAir

What Is the Energy Protection Act

The Energy Protection Act (EPA) was signed into law on August 8, 2005 by former President George W. Bush. In short, the law was sold as an attempt to tackle growing energy problems in the Untied States, but with many bills passed into law, it seems there were a lot of incentives tied into the bill. Some of which do not really make a lot of sense. Nonetheless, there is much good in the law that was passed, and is still in affect.

EPA Impact On Ceiling Fans

Most of the impact the EPA had on ceilings fans wasn’t as much on the fan itself, but rather the light fixtures that attach to the fans. Not to say that it had zero effect on the ceiling fans, but most of what it did was help the customer realize easier what they were purchasing.

To explain it in plain English, before any new ceiling fan model can be sold in the United States, it is required to be sent to an EPA approved laboratory for testing. There are only three EPA labs approved for this test, one of which is at Hunter Fan Company. When the lab receives a new ceiling fan model for testing, the fan is hung above a cylinder type contraption with sensors below to measure airflow. Also tested is the wattage that the fan uses on its different speeds. Once the testing is complete, the fan is given an Airflow rating, and Electricity Use rating, and an Airflow Efficiency rating. All of these numbers are then required to be put on an Energy Information label and printed on the outside of the box that each fan is packaged in. See label example:

The above label is from a typical 56” ceiling fan from Home Depot. To simplify what you are seeing on the label, and if you’re buying a ceiling fan because you want your room to feel cooler when using a fan, the only number that is really important is the first number on the left. It’s the Cubic Feet Per Minute of Airflow the fan produces. On this fan it is an average amount of air, 5377 CFM’s. Basically, the more CFM’s a fan puts out, the better the fan is for helping keep an area feeling cooler. The airflow efficiency number is useless, because it is only the CFM’s divided by the Watts (Electricity Use), which in this case 5377 ÷ 62 = 86. Some people get hung up on this number, thinking the higher the number the better the fan will be for cooling. If that were true, think about this: Let’s call the fan in the above label “fan A”. We also have fan B that moves the exact same amount of airflow, 5377 CFM’s. Fan B only uses 59 watts of electricity, in turn showing a slightly higher “Airflow Efficiency” of 91. Would fan A make you feel any less cool than fan B, since it moves the exact same amount of air? No, it would not. However, it would save you possibly a few cents each month on your electric bill. So, then you have to ask yourself, if you dislike fan B’s styling, is it worth saving 5 or 10 cents per month on operational cost, when fan A looks so much better, and is going to make you feel exactly the same in comfort? Myself, I’m choosing the fan I like the styling of and giving the power company a nickel or dime each month.

Let me be honest though, the example I used comparing a fan that only moves 5377 CFM’s to another fan with the same airflow isn’t really going to help you feel much cooler in anything other than a very small room. When you look at many of the high-end ceiling fans, like those found at here at ModernFanOutlet.com, 5377 CFM’s is very low for a ceiling fan that is 56 inches in size. In comparison, the 56” TroposAir Tornado ceiling fan moves a whopping 9154 CFM’s, uses 79 watts of energy, and has an efficiency rating of 115. Although the efficiency rating is higher than the the comparison of fan A and B, what is most important is how much more cubic feet per minute of airflow you will get. Again, this what is going to have the biggest effect on keeping you cool. The 56 inch Tornado is going to provide over a 70% increase in airflow, when compared to the fans in the first examples. That is huge for helping you feel more comfortable on hot summer days.

Now, back to the main point, the Energy Protection Act and it’s impact on ceiling fans. The main good impact on fans was to help the customer. It has helped fan buyers to see clearly what they are buying and how effective it will be in meeting their need. It has proven, that not all ceiling fans are created equal. Not only will you find better quality materials and features in higher priced ceiling fans, but you will also find that just because two fans are the same size diameter that it doesn’t mean the airflow of each will be the same. In almost all cases, the higher priced and better made fan will destroy the cheaper quality and lower priced one in performance. Not to mention how much better the higher quality fan will look, and rather than being a drag on your home décor, it will help to bring a modern touch of class into the space.

EPA’s Negative Impact - Ceiling Fan Lights

The negative impact the EPA had on fans was only in ceiling fan light kits. The law originally required all ceiling fan lights that used standard Edison base sockets to change to candelabra base. What made no sense about this change was that our government thought it would save energy. What they didn’t think of was that if a fan light held three 60W Edison base bulbs, changing the sockets would do nothing but cause customer’s grief by forcing them to buy candelabra base bulbs instead. Regardless of socket size, the lights still used the three 60-watt bulbs, only the bulb base sized change. Since the wattage stayed the same it had no impact on energy savings.

Eventually the government figured this out… Go United States Congressmen (and women)! Man, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, but give them credit, eventually they saw the light - or did they? Well, they actually butchered fan lights up even more so from the point point, just as the fan industry thought they had seen the light. What they did was leave many customers in the dark, literally. Some large rooms require more light, yet the government begin to require lighting limiters to be installed inside of the fan lights. So, even if you had a large room requiring a ceiling fan light that used six 60-watt bulbs, suddenly the limiter would kick in and turn the lights off. The revision to the law required that no more than 190-watts total could be used in a single fan light using incandescent bulbs, and if the wattage was exceeded the limiter would kick in, thus leaving the person needing the light in the dark. What made no sense was that it only affected incandescent fan lights. Fan lights that used halogen bulbs were not effected at all. You could buy a fan light that used 300-watts of halogen lighting (equivalent to roughly 500-watts of incandescent), but you could not buy a fan light and use the same wattage if used standard incandescent bulbs.

Finally a solution occurred to avoid the lighting limiters automatically turning fan lights off. This solution was found by Gulf-Coast Fans and only thanks to a loophole they found in the law. This loophole was that as long as a fan light is packaged with CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs, then the light could avoid using the lighting limiter, and it could also use standard Edison base sockets to avoid the little candelabra based ones. If the buyer of the ceiling fan light did not like CFL bulbs, then all they had to do was dispose of them (hopefully properly, but doubtfully it happened) and go back to using the 60-watt incandescent bulbs most everyone was so fond of. Thank God for loopholes!

Fast forwarded to today, and the emergence of LED lighting, with various color temperatures to mimmic that of the incandescent lighting most are used to, all of the above mentions of the hassles and downfalls of what the EPA did to ceiling fan lighting seems like a moot point. With so many ceiling fans today beginning to come with integrated LED lighting, such as the Minka Aire Aviation LED Ceiling Fan, we really do not need to worry ourselves with dealing with the old lighting limiters anymore. Leave it to the good old “free market” to clean things up. With the advancement of LED light bulbs we can now all be happy. We can see the way we like to see in our homes, and we can save money while doing so. The best part in my opinion with LED bulbs is that I now rarely will ever have to replace a light bulb. The things last so long that it seems like changing a bulb may be something I forgot how to do when the time comes. I really hated changing light bulbs in my home every few months too!

In Conclusion

The EPA and its impact on fans today helps the customer while shopping for a ceiling fan to see whether or not the fan will move enough airflow for what they need it for. It has made shopping for a ceiling fan a breeze. Simply look at the Energy Information label printed on the outside of the box of all ceiling fans sold in America, and if the fan moves enough CFM’s for you, and you like the style, then buy it, it’s the right fan for you. Just keep in mind how much airflow is needed for your room size, and remember, the higher the airflow rating the better, you always have lower speeds if the high setting is too strong. Typically 5500 CFM’s is good for a room under 144 square feet. For a room up around 300 square feet you are going to want something around 7500 CFM’s. For rooms approaching 400-500 square feet you may want to go with two fans if you cannot find one you like that will move around 10,000 CFM’s or so. It takes a special fan to move over 10,000 CFM’s, but they are available. Fans like the 72” TroposAir Titan, the 84” TroposAir Titan, and the 84” Fanimation Stellar all far exceed those cubic feet per minute of air requirements.

When you are ready to make the jump and buy a really nice quality fan, one that will perform beyond your expectations, take a look at what we offer. We are sure you’ll find what you are looking for. If you need any assistance feel free to give us a call at 1-888-841-1993 and we will be glad to help you pick out the perfect ceiling fan.

Brand Name Makers of Big Ceiling Fans

  • Minka Aire
  • TroposAir
  • Fanimation
  • Big Ass Fans
  • Casblanca Fan Co.
  • Hunter
  • Gulf-Coast Fans
  • Craftmade
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