If you’re furnishing an outdoor or semi-outdoor porch, patio, or veranda where you’ll lounge on warm spring days, you may want to supplement the shade with a ceiling fan — it’s a great way to keep cool in spaces where air-conditioning isn’t an option. Depending on your preference, an outdoor fan can be low profile or a design feature in its own right. “Are there open views that are the focal point, or is this area an extension of the interior space that should feel intimate?” asks Sarah Ramirez, the founder of the design firm Found + Collected. “If there is an expansive backyard, then a style that doesn’t impede the view would probably be best,” she says, while “a more stylized option can help an outdoor area feel more like an indoor space.” Either way, you’ll want a fan that is quiet, moves plenty of air, and most important, is rated for outdoor use.
What we’re looking for
There are three weather ratings for a ceiling fan: dry, damp, and wet. Dry-rated fans are strictly for indoor use. Damp-rated fans are designed for semi-outdoor areas with cover from direct moisture, like a garage or a screened porch, where your fan won’t be fully exposed to the elements even on a blustery day. Wet-rated fans are tested to withstand direct moisture from rain and snow. (Wet-rated and damp-rated fans can also be installed indoors, but they are more expensive, so if moisture isn’t part of the equation, a dry-rated fan is usually a better bet.) We’re favoring wet-rated fans, which offer more versatility in placement, and are noting which fans are damp rated.
Most fans on this list come with a remote control, which will save you from stretching to reach for a pull cord. For those who don’t want to welcome one more single-purpose remote into their home, many also are Bluetooth-enabled and can be integrated with smart-home devices. We’ve noted where that’s the case and which fans require an additional accessory to connect to your devices.
Among designers we spoke to, ceiling fan lights were polarizing. “You don’t want your ceiling fans to function as the only light in the room,” says Tavia Forbes of Atlanta interior-design studio Forbes and Masters. “If it is the only overhead light, please have floor lamps and table lamps” to counteract the single light source, which can look flat or harsh. Ramirez differs, saying that “if the space warrants an outdoor light, then there simply should be a light on the fan.” Most ceiling fans on this list have the capacity to install a light, as well as a cap to hide the socket if you choose not to.
The best dimensions for a ceiling fan will depend on the proportions of your space. Forbes recommends hanging the fixture no higher than nine feet above the floor to make sure you feel the breeze, and 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. You’ll also want to consider the diameter of a fan’s blades, called “sweep.” In general, a fan around 50 inches in diameter is good for a medium-size room between 100 and 200 square feet; a fan with wider blades will move more air, and for an expansive porch or patio, a larger size or multiple fans may work best.
Rating: Wet | Controls: Remote included | Light: 18W LED light | Dimensions: 48” sweep
This ceiling fan from Fanimation, a brand recommended by Forbes and Masters as well as interior designer Karina Lameraner, checks all our boxes: It’s low profile, affordable, wet rated, comes with an LED light and remote, and moves an impressive volume of air. It’s made from durable metal and wood and has a design that can work in any space: Forbes and Masters describe it as “sleek and modern” and have used it as a unifying design feature both indoors and outdoors.
Best less expensive damp-rated ceiling fan
Rating: Damp | Controls: Remote included | Light: 21.5W LED light | Dimensions: 54 inches
Another affordable option is Hampton Bay’s Mena fan, recommended by Kelsey Fischer, Havenly’s in-house designer, who likes its “clean lines” and range of finishes, from polished nickel to matte white. This fan is damp rated, so it should be installed only in a space where it won’t be directly exposed to rain or snow.
Best neutral ceiling fan
Rating: Wet | Controls: Pull chain | Light: Two 6W bulbs | Dimensions: 52 inches
Ramirez says this Clark fan is “one of the best-looking neutral styles that I use often in designs.” The fan’s Goldilocksian aesthetic fits with a variety of design styles — it also comes in more neutral white and bronze — and it’s wet rated for all outdoor spaces.
Best vintage-inspired ceiling fan
Rating: Damp | Controls: Pull chain | Light: 5W LED bulb | Dimensions: 52 inches
This cherry-red metal ceiling fan creates a “vintage or farmhouse look,” says Ramirez, and she recommends supplementing it with outdoor lighting in a similarly retro style. It also comes in black and a matte silver.
Best minimalist ceiling fan
Rating: Wet | Controls: Remote included | Light: LED light kit sold separately | Dimensions: 44 inches, 52 inches
Minka Aire is a favorite brand among our experts, and three of them mentioned this design in particular: Lameraner; interior designer Danielle Colding; and Courtney McLeod, the founder and principal designer of Right Meets Left Interior Design. Colding likes “the lines and simplicity of this ceiling fan,” which she says create a sense of “sweeping elegance and grace.” She also appreciates a wide range of finishes, from matte black to maple. Lameraner says the fan’s “sleek and minimalist design creates the perfect streamlined look and feel.” McLeod adds that it’s “very quiet and moves a surprisingly large volume of air.”
Best wood-finish ceiling fan
Rating: Wet | Controls: Bluetooth-enabled remote included | Light: 20 W LED light | Dimensions: 52 inches, 62 inches
Decorist designer Carmen René Smith says this Modern Forms fan is “absolutely my top choice in form and function.” She particularly appreciates its “gorgeous” molded-wood blades as well as the fact that the fan runs “super-quiet.” This fan is compatible with an app, and can also be integrated with smart-home devices and comes with a Bluetooth remote control.
Best modern ceiling fan
Rating: Damp | Controls: Remote control or wall control included | Light: Can add 17W LED for additional cost | Dimensions: 50 inches
Colding and Jenny Norris of Jenny Norris Interiors both recommend this damp-rated Cirrus fan created by industrial designer Ron Rezek in 1997 and known for its oblong, pill-shaped body. Norris describes the design as “clean and airy,” and Colding recommends the “simple look and metal finish” for “streamlined, architectural spaces with clean lines.” It’s available in a futuristic aluminum or glossy white and can be customized with maple-finished blades.
Best ceiling fan with leaf-shaped blades
Rating: Wet | Controls: Wall control included | Light: 6 W LED light | Dimensions: 52 inches
Colding, Smith, and interior designer Katherine Tlapa recommend Minka Aire’s take on the tropical-palm-leaf fan. The wet-rated four-blade ceiling fan comes with an integrated LED light and operates via a wall control connected to an existing light switch (with the option to add a remote). Smith calls the fan “chic and unique,” and Colding recommends it for spaces “where there are lots of layers and patterns.” In addition to the beige finish shown, it’s available in minimalist white and an oil-rubbed bronze finish.
Best ceiling fan for energy efficiency
Rating: Damp | Control: Remote control | Light: Light kit available | Dimensions: 60 inches
When former Strategist writer Lauren Levy set out to find the best energy-efficient ceiling fan, she discovered the Monte Carlo Maverick, which she described as “the Prius of ceiling fans.” It uses just 27 watts of energy, and “its modern, elegant design stands out within its category with blades hand-carved of hardy balsa wood,” she says. (It’s also one of our favorite fifth-anniversary gifts.) It is damp-rated, so make sure to hang it in an area where it won’t be directly exposed to the elements.
Best splurge-worthy ceiling fan
Rating: Wet | Control: Remote control, wall control, and app | Light: Light kit compatible | Dimensions: 60, 72, 84, and 96 inches
If you’re open to splurging on the smartest of smart fans, Big Ass Fans (real name), the maker of one of our favorite indoor ceiling fans, makes this wet-rated model with six blades and a wide blade sweep with diameters ranging from 60 to 96 inches. It has sensors for motion, temperature, and humidity as well as a microprocessor that allows the fan to adjust automatically to preset preferences. It comes in four colors including basic black and white and an antique-y oil-rubbed bronze.
Best hugger ceiling fan
Rating: Wet | Controls: Remote control included, Wi-Fi enabled | Light: 20W LED | Dimensions: 26 inches, 38 inches
If you’re looking to get a breeze going in a smaller area with a low ceiling, this hugger-style ceiling fan is recommended by Shaffer, who calls it “cute and contemporary.” It’s wet rated and can be exposed to direct moisture, and its compact size and ability to mount flush to the ceiling make it ideal for small spaces. It also comes with a light kit and a remote, and it’s Wi-Fi enabled, so it can be controlled via an app.
• Danielle Colding, interior designer
• Kelsey Fischer, in-house designer at Havenly
• Tavia Forbes, co-founder of Forbes and Masters
• Karina Lameraner, interior designer and blogger
• Lauren Levy, former Strategist writer
• Monet Masters, co-founder of Forbes and Masters
• Courtney McLeod, founder of Right Meets Left Interior Design
• Jenny Norris, Jenny Norris Interiors
• Sarah Ramirez, founder of Found + Collected
• Carmen René Smith, designer at Decorist
• Katherine Tlapa, interior designer
Additional reporting by Lauren Ro
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