How to Choose the Right Outdoor Ceiling Fan

Outdoor ceiling fans can add comfort to porches, decks, pools, patios, carports and garages by creating a breeze and keeping insects at bay. There are a variety of fans that are specifically designed for use outdoors and are built to withstand all types of weather conditions and elements such as wind, moisture, and heat.

When making the decision to purchase an outdoor fan, it is important to keep several factors in mind—

  • Where will the fan be placed? (On a covered porch, near a swimming pool, ect.)
  • Will the fan be in direct contact with water?
  • Do you live in a Salt Water area?

By answering these questions, you are one step closer to properly choosing an outdoor fan that will meet your needs and will be safe for the area in which it is placed.

What Makes an Outdoor Ceiling Fan Different from and Indoor Fan?

Outdoor ceiling fans differ from indoor fans in that they are constructed to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures, as well as humidity, dust and dryness. Indoor fans are not constructed to withstand such elements and are meant for use strictly inside the home in locations where there is little to no humidity and dampness. An indoor ceiling fan should never be installed outdoors as it will create a risk of fire or shock as well as a shortened product lifetime.

The biggest difference between an outdoor ceiling fan and in indoor ceiling fan is the type of materials that are used to construct each fan.

  • Outdoor fans are constructed with galvanized tubular steel and powder-coated painted finishes which prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Further, the motor casings of an outdoor fan are designed to be completely waterproof which is accomplished by the use of sealants, compression fittings and o-rings which are not commonly found in indoor fans.
  • Outdoor ceiling fan blades are made from injected plastic (not wood)

outdoor ceiling fans are broken down into two different types based on the type of location that the fan is designed for use in.

  • Damp Location Rated – which are conductive to areas with high humidity or condensation and cannot withstand direct water contact
  • UL Wet Rated—which are conductive to wet areas and can withstand direct contact with water (wet rated fans may also be used in damp locations, however damp rated fans may not be used in wet locations)

What Type of Ceiling Fan to use by Salt Water Areas and Why?

If your home is within a short distance to the coast and you are installing a ceiling fan outdoors, it is important to consider the risk of salt water corrosion. Salt water can destroy a ceiling fan in no time if the proper fan is not used. Most importantly, a UL wet location fan with plastic blades and minimal exposed hardware should be used in salt water areas.[5WF42WH]

A wet location fan can withstand direct contact with water. To prevent salt water corrosion, rinse the wet location fan off periodically with fresh water from a hose. This will prolong the life of the fan by removing the salt build up that occurs

Plastic ABS blades should accompany any fan that is to be used near salt water. The plastic blades are water resistant and will not corrode from the salt in the air.

Once installed, the wet location fans should have very little or no hardware visible when looking up at the fan itself. This reduces the amount of tarnish, rust, and corrosion that will be visible from salt damage in the years to come.

Copper hardware is the most durable for wet location fans that are to be used in salt water areas. Over time, the corrosion from the salt water environment will cause a chemical reaction with the copper and it will change color, but if you can withstand the change in color, the hardware itself will continue to hold up to the elements for about 5-10 years.

What Type of Outdoor Fan to use on a Covered Porch

On a covered porch, in most cases,  UL damp rated outdoor ceiling fans may be used. Keep in mind that in all salt water locations, even on a covered porch, it is best to use a wet rated outdoor fan as this allows the ability to rinse the fan off directly![5PE56NO]

Damp rated fans are not designed for direct contact with water. So, on a covered porch, where the fan will be out of direct contact from water, a damp rated fan is the perfect touch. These fans are conductive to a great deal of humidity and condensation, so minor weather changes outside of the porch should be of no concern.

Today, there are numerous damp rated outdoor ceiling fans that are beautiful enough to be placed inside or outside of the home. For instance, Monte Carlo fans has numerous outdoor fan models to choose from that would also be a gorgeous addition to a room inside the home. Monte Carlo ceiling fans are available online.

Why are Outdoor Fan Blades Plastic?

Outdoor fan blades are made from a molded plastic. The very durable plastic is called ABS plastic which stands for All-weather Blade System. This material can hold up to all of the elements that nature has to offer—wind, rain, snow, humidity, ect.

Plastic blades are important when a fan is to be used outdoors. Moisture can warp wood blades causing the fan to wobble, but the moisture is of no concern with the durable ABS plastic blades which are completely water resistant and can stand up to weather elements.  These blades now come in a variety of styles just like the wooden and woven blades that are typical for indoor use.all weather blade

Further, the use of plastic blades on wet location ceiling fans allows the ability to directly rinse the blades off with water. This is especially important in salt water areas, but it is also a nice thing to remember in most other outdoor locations as outdoor fans tend to collect dirt, pollen, and dust from the air much quicker than their indoor counterparts.

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4 Responses to How to Choose the Right Outdoor Ceiling Fan

  1. David Jester says:

    Can you recommend some outdoor ceiling fans designed for outdoor salt air exposure. I live less than a block from the Atlantic ocean. Have tried 2 or 3 brands on an outdoor covered porch rated for wet locations, they all rust within one year.
    Look forward to your response.

    • Jenelle Ricci says:

      David, I am sorry about your luck with your past outdoor ceiling fans. I can suggest the Ellington Cove Harbor Fan. The Ellington Cover Harbor comes with an ABS motor housing as well as ABS blades. The plastic-like ABS material tends to hold up much better in saltier environments. I hope this helps!

  2. Jerry McCarron says:

    We want to replace the fan that is mounted on our screened porch ceiling that is 200 feet from the ocean surf. We want a fan/light combo that will not corrode on its housing or any of its fittings and hardware. We would like the fan to be controlled with a wall switch or by a remote control.
    Ordinary stainless steel rusts on our porch. Our white painted Casablanca fan, model W52 060 rusted during its second year and stopped working during its third year. Please suggest something that will hold up in the salt air. We would accept 100% plastic, if that is the best way fight wind-driven salt air.

    • Jenelle Ricci says:

      Hello Kevin, I can suggest the Kichler Cameron, which is a fan/light combo with remote control. This fan is made with ABS materials that hold up much better in saltier environments. You could also try a Kichler Deckard, which is also made with ABS materials.