this thing's incredible

The Best Ceiling Fan Is Energy Efficient and Made of Balsa Wood

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine Photo: Bobby Doherty

The goal: Find the best ceiling fan. Veterans of the field guided us away from propellers with small motors that only circulate properly when set on high and toward more efficient models that pass the government’s recently updated energy standards.

The verdict: Monte Carlo’s Maverick is the Prius of ceiling fans. Powered with an energy-saving DC motor (as opposed to the older AC motors), it alternates among six speeds, uses a meager 27 watts of energy (compare that to your typical 60-watt light bulb), and will run you $5 in energy costs a year. So little that Energy Star rated it one of the most efficient fans of 2018. Unlike a Prius, its modern, elegant design stands out within its category with blades hand-carved of hearty balsa wood. And because the Maverick is streamlined into just two parts, it’s incredibly easy to clean. We were told this trick: Take an old pillowcase, slide it over the blade, and watch the dust disappear.


Matthews is actually a company best known for inventing ceiling fans with two heads (as seen here), but our colleague Jody from the photo department turned us on to one of their other best sellers, the Irene, which she uses for her glassed-in porch. One thing to note: Outdoor fans (like this one) may be used indoors, but indoor fans won’t survive outside. The Irene is made in Brazil with hand-carved wooden blades and Jody absolutely loves it. She says when people come over, the first thing they ask is, “Where’d you get that fan?”

Emerson fans, like the one here, are known as the Mercedes of the fan world because they use a different motor technology that allows for the strongest airflow. Also, unlike most fans, the blades on Emersons are attached to a flywheel that is then attached to the motor (instead of blades attached directly to the motor), which means they’re stabler and there’s less chance for noise and wobble. We’ll admit that the designs aren’t the most contemporary, but this one called the Southtowne is our favorite of the bunch.

Ron Harris, owner of the online fan retailer Del Mar Fans, introduced us to Minka Aire, a company that incorporates LED lighting into its fans and offers a lot of contemporary designs, which aren’t always so easy to find in the ceiling-fan world. We like this rounded one called the Light Wave.

If the goal is a smart home, check out the Haiku by Big Ass Fans (real name). It has an optional LED light, uses a motion detector, is Wi-Fi-enabled, integrated with SenseMe technology, and connects with the Alexa and Nest. It’ll determine the humidity in a room and adjust based on that knowledge. No ceiling fan is as technologically advanced.

*A version of this article appears in the June 11, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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The Best Ceiling Fan Is Really Energy Efficient