5 FAQs About Outdoor Ceiling Fans

5 FAQs About Outdoor Ceiling Fans


So, you want to make your outdoor living space a bit more comfortable in the summertime, when the heat and insects make enjoying your yard a bit more difficult. An outdoor ceiling fan is an excellent solution! Fans are easy to install and relatively inexpensive; their ability to circulate air helps to provide a gentle breeze that cools and keeps flying bugs away; and because they are mounted underneath your patio or deck cover, they are unobtrusive and can even add additional style and illumination to an otherwise ignored space.

However, if you have never installed a ceiling fan outside, you almost certainly have a few questions about the process. Hopefully, this guide can address your concerns and convince you that a fan is an indispensable element of outdoor living design.

Can All Ceiling Fans Be Installed Outside?

Fast answer: no

Outdoor ceiling fans are specially made to withstand factors unique to outdoor environments. While indoor fans might need to resist dust and operate somewhat quietly, outdoor fans experience legitimate threats like wind, precipitation, larger debris and pests. Any of these elements could degrade an indoor fan, reducing its effectiveness and its lifespan as well as potentially placing your home in danger.

Outdoor fans are made with particularly hardy materials and have finishes that resist weathering and wear. Thus, it is imperative that you purchase a fan rated for outdoor use when installing a fan under your patio or deck cover.

Where Is the Best Place for an Outdoor Ceiling Fan?

Fast answer: in semi-enclosed outdoor spaces

A ceiling fan needs a ceiling to mount on, which means you can’t hang a ceiling fan in an outdoor space that doesn’t have a permanent cover. You cannot affix an outdoor ceiling fan to an umbrella or awning; semi-covered spaces, like pergolas and gazebos with slatted ceilings, can hold up a ceiling fan, but you will need to take extra steps to cover the canopy above the fan to prevent water or pests from invading the fan’s motor. The best spaces for an outdoor ceiling fan include a covered patio or deck, a porch, a sunroom or a garage, all of which are semi-enclosed spaces that are somewhat open to the elements.

5 FAQs About Outdoor Ceiling Fans


Does the Size of the Fan Matter?

Fast answer: usually

Just as you wouldn’t want to buy an air conditioning unit too small to effectively cool a room, you don’t want to invest in a fan that is too small (or too large!) for your outdoor space. Here’s a quick and easy guide to choosing a fan size for your outdoor area:

Spaces this size Need fans with a diameter this size
Up to 75 square feet 29 to 30 inches
75 to 144 square feet 36 to 42 inches
144 to 225 square feet 44 inches
225 to 400 square feed 50 to 54 inches


If your outdoor area is especially large or long, you might consider investing in two outdoor ceiling fans, which will be more effective than one large fan at cooling your space.

What Happens If the Fan Gets Wet?

Fast answer: probably nothing

If you don’t know much about electrical work, you at least know this: electricity and moisture don’t mix. When you live in a particularly humid place or are placing a fan in a space that is often exposed to precipitation, you need to be sure to purchase a fan that is damp-rated or wet-rated, which means its parts are properly protected against moisture and can be indirectly or directly exposed to water without creating a fire risk. Most outdoor fans have this rating, but you might double- or triple-check if you know your fan is going to get wet.

How Do You Choose the Right Style of Fan?

Fast answer: that depends

A fan is a major feature of a space, so it is important that the fan you install suits your design aesthetic. Fortunately, there are thousands of outdoor fan styles to choose from, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a fan that is perfect for you. Some style features you might want to pay close attention to include:

  • Motor housing color
  • Blade shape
  • Blade color
  • Number of lights
  • Shape of lights

If your space is ultra-modern, you likely want a simple or industrial-style fan with straight blades and black-and-silver coloring. However, if your outdoor space is more traditional, incorporating wood in the blades or using colors like gold and bronze would be appropriate. Ultimately, you should choose the fan you like the most — as long as it is safe to install outside.

Thank you for reading 5 FAQs About Outdoor Ceiling Fans

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