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Understanding the Ceiling Fan Energy Information Label

By Jeff Eller 1 years ago 1215 Views No comments

Ceiling Fan Energy Information Label from 84 Inch TroposAir Titan

Understanding Ceiling Fan Energy Efficiency Ratings

When shopping for ceiling fans you will find an Energy Information label on all ceiling fan boxes, and you should see the same label on any reputable website that offers ceiling fans for sale online.

The Airflow Rating shows how much cubic feet per minute (CFM) of airflow a ceiling fan moves on its high speed setting. The Electricity Use Rating shows how much wattage of energy a fan uses to move that amount of air. Finally, the Airflow Efficiency Rating shows how efficiently a ceiling fan moves the airflow, by dividing the Airflow Rating by the Electricity Use Rating.

In this article you will learn in more detail exactly which numbers to look for, and which ones are less important. After reading this, you will be able to shop for your new ceiling fan like a pro, and, if you follow my advice, you will never have to worry about purchasing a ceiling fan and paying to have it installed, only to later find out it does not move enough airflow for your need.

Buying a Ceiling Fan in the Past

People used to be told to ask what the blade pitch is on a ceiling fan, and assumed the higher the blade pitch the more airflow a fan would move. Although blade pitch is somewhat important, there are so many more factors that determine airflow than blade pitch alone. Factors such as, the RPM rate (rotations per minute), the width of the blades, the shape of the blades, and even the distance between the blades and the ceiling, because having more space between the ceiling and ceiling fan blades helps with airflow too. All of these factors need to be considered to truly determine how much airflow a ceiling fan will actually move.

Ask yourself this, fan A and fan B both have a blade span of 60 inches and a blade pitch of 14°, but at high speed fan A spins at a rate of 210 RPMs, whereas fan B spins at 190 RPMs. Which fan will move the most airflow? One would assume ceiling fan A, correct?

Wait! Not so fast. What if ceiling fan A has a blade width of only 4 inches, and ceiling fan B’s blade width is 5 inches? But then, what if fan A’s blades clear the ceiling by 10”, and fan B’s blades have a distance from the ceiling of 9.5”? Hmmm?

Seems to me that trying to figure out which ceiling fan will move more air by knowing blade pitch alone won’t do a whole lot of good, and trying to calculate all of the factors that affect airflow is too complicated to do for every ceiling fan you may be considering.

Ceiling Fan Shopping Today is Easier

These days, knowing exactly how much airflow a fan will move is a whole lot easier than it was just a few years ago. Thanks to the Energy Protection Act, each and every ceiling fan sold in the United States is required to show an Energy Information Label on the outside of the box. This makes it very easy to know which ceiling fans move the most airflow. However, many people still find themselves confused by looking at the wrong numbers on the label when shopping for which ceiling fan is best for airflow. In this blog post I intend to simplify the understanding of the label so that you will be able to make a more informed decision.

Energy Information Label - Reading and Understanding


The number listed under the Air Flow rating is the most important number on the label, especially when trying to figure out how good a ceiling fan will be at keeping an area cool. The higher the number listed in that section the better.

The reason for this is simple; ceiling fans do not actually cool the air, but rather they make you feel cooler by producing what is known as the wind-chill effect. The more air movement you feel against your skin, the cooler your brain tells you body it is. Therefore, it is obvious that the larger the number in the Airflow section of the Energy Information Label, the better the fan is going to be for making you feel cooler.

Know this rating, there is no need to care about what a ceiling fan’s blade pitch is, what its RPMs are, how wide the blades are, or how far the ceiling fan blades are from the ceiling. Knowing those details are a thing of the complicated past. Today, simply find ceiling fan styles you desire, and then choose the one with the highest airflow number possible. Remember, if the number is higher than you think you may need, all overhead fans have lower speeds to lower the airflow volume. You can always slow any ceiling fan speed down to get less airflow, but you can never speed one up above it’s normal high setting to get more airflow.

Electricity Use

This number shows how much electricity, in wattage, a ceiling fan consumes on the high speed setting. On normal ceiling fans, the low speed setting will consume about 1/3 the energy of what it consumes on its high speed. However, if you shop for ceiling fans with DC motors, which are much more energy efficient than standard ceiling fans, the low setting can be a little as 1/10 of what it uses on high.

Providing the ceiling ceiling fan you are considering has a high “Airflow” rating, the lower the electricity usage the better. That said, do not base your decision solely on a low electricity use number. The reason, if a low electricity use number sacrifices the cubic feet per minute of airflow number, then the fan may cost little to operate, but it will be useless for what it was purchased to do… keeping the area more comfortable. For this reason, do not forget, airflow is always the most important factor when considering which ceiling fan to purchase.

Airflow Efficiency

Many inexperienced shoppers look at this number and feel the higher the efficiency rating, the better the ceiling fan. Don’t make this mistake, as this is somewhat of a misleading number on the Energy Information Label.

The way this number is calculated is simple. Take the “Airflow” rating number and divide it by the “Electricity Use” number. For example, in the image below, 5,897 (airflow rating) ÷ 64 (electricity use) = 92 (airflow efficiency).

Ceiling Fan Energy Information Label

Now, consider our Raindance Nautical Ceiling Fan. It has a lower “Airflow Efficiency” number of 82, because it uses 100 watts of electricity. However, it moves much more airflow at 8,165 CFMs. Being the “Airflow” number is nearly 40% higher on the Raindance model (compared to the example above) it will make you feel roughly 40% cooler than the fan that only moves 5,897 CFMs. Yet, the efficiency number is only 11% less. Do you see the offset here? 11 percent less of an efficiency rating, but you’ll feel 40% cooler.

If using both of the two ceiling fans in the above examples indoors, you’ll be able to cut back on your air conditioning cost much more with the Raindance fan, even though it has a slightly less energy efficiency rating. When considering how much wattage an air conditioner cost to operate in comparison to a ceiling fan, in the end, the Raindance will be a much bigger savings on your monthly power bills.

If using both ceiling fans outdoor on a patio, and you’re out on a hot day, do you really want to feel 40% less cool when you turn on your new ceiling fan? I know I wouldn’t.

I’m not saying never look at the Airflow Efficiency number, but I am saying I would never suggest sacrificing a good airflow rating just to get a good airflow efficiency rating on high speed. Since many times we only run our fans on medium and low speed settings, most do not realized that the efficiency rating goes way up on a fan that moves a higher volume of airflow on the high speed setting, compared to the fan that moves less on the high setting.

In Conclusion

When shopping for a ceiling fan, the most important thing to consider (besides finding styling that matches your taste) is Airflow, Airflow, followed by Airflow. The lower the wattage used, and the higher the efficiency rating is can be a plus, but never make the mistake of putting the “Electricity Use” and the “Airflow Efficiency” numbers above the “Airflow” number a ceiling fan moves, that is found the Energy Information Label printed on all ceiling fans’ packaging.

If you should have further questions, or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to comment in the comment section with your question. We will be glad to reply back. For a quicker response, you may want to give us a call at 1-888-841-1993, and any of our trained customer service reps will be glad to get you the answer you need.

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