A Simple Ceiling Fan Guide
The Australian Ceiling Fan market comprises 4 categories of ceiling fans i) super premium, ii) design leaders, iii) budget copies, and iv) spinners. All have their place and are the ‘right’ purchase decision under different circumstances, but you do get what you pay for. To help you decide which option is right for you the Spinifex team has outlined what to expect from each type of fan.
Super Premium Ceiling Fans
When you are looking for a distinctive look and feel these are the fans for you. Super-premium ceiling fans are generally design innovators. There are three subcategories: i) single piece timber blade sets showcasing the beauty of natural wood, ii) engineering pioneers focusing on aerodynamics and DC motors, and iii) tropical extravagance that are often big and ornate. All of these fans are interesting in their own way, but rarely cheep. Expect to pay from $500 for a fan that should be quiet and last a long time.
Design Leader Ceiling Fans
This category is for the design conscious consumer looking for quality but needing to keep within a budget. They are well constructed using proven materials and technology:
- Motor: High end conventional AC motors with sealed bearings and windings, 16+ poles, robust control capacitors, energy efficient to operate.
- Housing: Die cast aluminium construction to allow for interesting design forms and seamless integration of a bright lighting solution, hard wearing finishes, and factory balanced moving parts to resist wobble and noise.
- Blades: Injection mould plastic for increased design flexibility (including improved aerodynamics for efficiency and quiet operation), or plywood resistant to warping. The blades will always be pre-balances to resist wobble.
The Spinifex Fans’ range of ceiling fans falls within the category. Expect to pay from $300 to $500 for the base unit with optional lighting and remote controls costing extra.
Budget Copy Ceiling Fans
These are copies of the design leaders. Compromises are made to keep the price down, like:
- Inferior motors and controls
- Less durable finishes and bearings
- Components that don’t fit well together due to worn or imprecise tooling
- Unbalanced moving parts
- Blades from less durable woods or wood composites
- Sharp and unfinished surfaces and edges
These fans typically cost $150 to $250 and are mostly selected for infrequently used spaces or where quality is of less of a concern. Think of them as a disposable item that you will throw away once it starts to look shabby, wobble or make noise. It is worth reading the warranty fine print to check the manufacturer really backs their product.
Spinner Ceiling Fans
Basic metal fans with metal, plain wood or wood and rattan blades are called ‘spinner fans’. They are cheap, cheerful, unpretentious and simple; perfect if cooling air-movement is your only criteria. They also usually wobble a bit and given time will try to serenade you to sleep with clicks and whirs if you mount one in your bedroom. Expect to pay anything up to $200 for better quality examples. These are better placed in your workshop than your home.
Outdoor Ceiling Fans
There are outdoor versions of all of the above categories of ceiling fans. To make a fan suitable for use outdoors some modifications are made to the motor housing to prevent water ingress. Note that not all fans suitable for outdoor use can be directly exposed to water. Some fans are suitable for direct exposure to water, but these are relatively uncommon in Australia.
Ceiling Fans With Lights
Most fans have a light option. It is worth having a good look at the light because it is a great barometer for the quality of the engineering and the designer’s attention to detail. Integrating a light into a ceiling fans well is much harder than it seems and only a few designers do it well. Take your time to check how the shape integrates into the motor housing, the quality of the diffuser (glass), the level of hot-spotting on the diffuser from the globe being too close, and the brightness of the globe. If the ceiling fan light looks like rubbish then the fan probably is too.