For the warm spring days before you’ve pulled your air conditioner out of storage, a ceiling fan is a time-tested way to stay cool. Far from the noisy, pull-cord-operated fans of my childhood, there are plenty of models today that are both stylish and engineered to be wobble-free, silent, and easy to control, whether you prefer smart home systems or a microchip-less remote control. While the ceiling fans on this list come in several design styles, experts told us that no style makes a significant difference in terms of functionality and air circulation. Neither does the number of blades — more blades can even contribute to drag, but the difference in airflow is minimal.
What we’re looking for
The airflow of a fan — the volume of air it can move at its highest setting — is usually measured in cubic feet per minute. To some extent, ideal airflow is proportional to the size of your space; you wouldn’t want a jet-engine-strength fan buffeting the curtains in a small bathroom, and a more powerful fan (or multiple fans) will perform better at circulating air in a large, high-ceilinged room. But in general, experts recommend an airflow of over 4,000 cubic feet per minute for most rooms, and the options on this list go up to around 6,500 cubic feet per minute. If a number seems high, remember that the measurement is taken at the fan’s fastest setting — lower settings will move less air.
There are two dimensions to pay attention to when buying a fan: the blade sweep, or the diameter of the fan’s blades, and the length of the downrod, the bar that connects the fan’s motor to the ceiling. (Most brands on this list also sell downrods separately, if you need to swap the standard size out for a different length.) For both, start with the measurements of your space and work back from there. For the downrod, measure the height of your ceiling: Tavia Forbes of Atlanta interior-design studio Forbes and Masters recommends hanging the fixture no higher than nine feet above the floor to make sure you feel the breeze. (The lowest you can safely hang a fan is seven feet above the floor.) For low ceilings and smaller spaces, you may want a “hugger-style” fan, which is mounted flush against a ceiling.
Blade sweep affects the airflow of a fan; a fan with longer blades translates to more air moved per minute. Fans that measure around 50 inches across are a good size for medium-size rooms, and you may want a smaller fan for a bathroom or foyer, or a larger fan for a high-ceilinged or large room. We’ve included products on both ends of the spectrum, from a compact 42-inch option to a fan with an expansive 65-inch sweep.
Many ceiling fans come with a light kit, which can be swapped out for other lights or covered with a cap for a streamlined look. Some of our experts aren’t fans (sorry) of LED overhead lights: “You don’t want your ceiling fans to function as the only light in the room,” says Forbes. She recommends supplementing an overhead light with floor and table lamps, which create a more dynamic, welcoming atmosphere.
Many fans on this list come with a wall panel or remote control, which will save you from stretching to reach a pull cord. If you’re someone who can’t keep track of remotes, some can be integrated with smart-home devices; we’re specifying where that’s the case.
Best overall ceiling fan
Airflow: 5,966 CFM | Dimensions: 42” and 52” sweep, 6” downrod | Light: No light included, light-kit adaptable | Controls: Pull chain; compatible with remote control and wall control
Minka Aire is a favorite brand among our experts: It was mentioned by Ron Harris, owner of the online fan retailer Del Mar Fans; Karina Lameraner, who works in creative marketing at digital decorating service Modsy; interior designer Danielle Colding; Decorist designer Carmen René Smith; and Courtney McLeod, the founder and principal designer of Right Meets Left Interior Design. The brand’s Contractor Plus model is a classic, reliable, fits-everyone fan. It comes in seven different finishes and two different sizes, and can be customized to add accessories like a light kit or wall control or kept to just the basics. It’s also quite affordable, making it easier to buy in multiples for large spaces or to match across rooms.
Best ceiling fan for small rooms
Airflow: 2,902 CFM | Dimensions: 42” sweep, flush mounted | Light: No light | Controls: Pull chain
The Hunter Low-Profile fan is a solid, inexpensive pick for small rooms of around 100 square feet or less. It’s a hugger-style fan, which means it mounts flush to the ceiling, and its 42-inch size is compact enough for a bathroom, pantry, or foyer. It comes with a pull chain and is available in three finishes, including white and a bronze-finished option with reversible blades in two tones of wood. It’s also highly rated, with over 2,500 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Best ceiling fan with integrated light
Airflow: 5,202 CFM | Dimensions: 48” sweep, 4” downrod | Light: LED light | Controls: Remote control included
If you’re looking for a highly rated fan with an integrated light, Honeywell’s Carmel fan is a great choice — it houses three 40-watt LED bulbs, providing plenty of light for a medium-size room. It has an aggregate rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon with nearly 2,000 five-star ratings, with reviewers reporting that it’s quiet, versatile, and, best of all, a great deal.
Best ceiling fan with curved blades
Airflow: 3,657 CFM to 5,713 CFM | Dimensions: 44”, 52”, and 65” sweep, 6” downrod | Light: Optional LED light | Controls: Remote control included, compatible with wall control
Former Strategist writer Lauren Levy mentioned this contemporary Minka Aire fan in her investigation into effective, energy-efficient fans. The fan offers plenty of customization options: It comes in three sizes and five colors, from a nondescript matte black to a rich koa finish. It also delivers good airflow, with the largest — a 65-inch-wide option — moving over 5,700 cubic feet per minute.
Best vintage-inspired ceiling fan
Airflow: 3,733 CFM | Dimensions: Flush-mount, 52 inches | Light: 5W LED bulb | Controls: Pull chain
This metal fan has a “vintage or farmhouse look,” says Sarah Ramirez, founder of the design firm Found + Collected, for spaces that lean more industrial or antique-filled. It has a socket for an LED lightbulb and is damp-rated, so it can also be installed in semi-outdoor spaces with some cover from the elements.
Best design-y ceiling fan
Airflow: 6,550 CFM | Dimensions: 50” sweep, includes a 6” and 12” downrod | Light: Optional LED light | Controls: Wall control, remote control
Colding and Jenny Norris of Jenny Norris Interiors both recommend the pill-shaped Cirrus fan, a model created by designer Ron Rezek in 1997. (The fan is also damp-rated, if you’re shopping for a fan that can live in a semi-outdoor space.) Norris describes the design as “clean and airy,” and Colding recommends its “simple look and metal finish” for “streamlined, architectural spaces with clean lines.”
Best splurge ceiling fan for energy efficiency
Airflow: 6,687 CFM | Dimensions: 60” sweep, 6” downrod | Light: Optional LED light | Controls: Remote control
Described as “the Prius of ceiling fans” by Levy, the Monte Carlo Maverick fan scores highly on energy efficiency — one way fan efficiency is measured is the airflow it delivers per watt of power it uses, and the Maverick, which runs on just 27 watts of power, delivers 246 CFM per watt at high speed. It’s also stylish, with hand-carved wooden blades, and damp-rated, which means it can be hung in semi-outdoor spaces that are protected from direct exposure to the elements. Plus, Levy writes, it’s easy to clean: “Take an old pillowcase, slide it over the blade, and watch the dust disappear.”
Best splurge ceiling fan for smart-home features
Airflow: 5,604 CFM | Dimensions: 52” sweep, 6” downrod | Light: LED light | Controls: Remote, app, and voice control
If you want to spare no expense on smart-home features, the Haiku fan by Big Ass Fans (really, that’s its name) comes with plenty of high-tech bells and whistles. It has motion, humidity, and temperature detectors to help determine when to turn on and how to adjust to the room’s conditions. It’s also Wi-Fi-enabled and connects with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control. Eugene Fiks, the president of smart home integration company Fiks Consultants, says he’s also impressed by its performance: When he worked on a project in Tampa, Florida, “it was 80 degrees outside, and the fan alone really cooled the place down.”
• Eugene Fiks, president of Fiks Consultants
• Tavia Forbes, principal designer at Forbes and Masters
• Ron Harris, owner of Del Mar Fans
• Karina Lameraner, creative stylist at Modsy
• Lauren Levy, former Strategist writer
• Courtney McLeod, founder and principal designer of Right Meets Left Interior Design
• Jenny Norris of Jenny Norris Interiors
• Sarah Ramirez, founder of Found + Collected
• Carmen René Smith, Decorist designer
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