Best Outdoor Ceiling Fans

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

51 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
632 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best outdoor ceiling fans

Last Updated September 2019

All the pleasures of enjoying a leisurely afternoon beneath your pergola are denied you when the air is so stiflingly hot and still that you sweat more than your refreshing beverage does. Often, what you need to cool things off is a gentle breeze. An outdoor ceiling fan can provide that and help you reclaim your backyard paradise.

An outdoor ceiling fan is manufactured differently than an indoor one, so you'll need to make sure the unit that you’re considering is rated for either damp or wet locations. Also, be sure that you purchase one that’s large enough for the area you want covered. And if you'd like some additional creature comforts, look for a model with a remote.

To learn all about what you should be looking for in an outdoor ceiling fan, continue reading. If you already know which features are best for your needs, consider one of the highly rated models we've spotlighted in this article.

The more blades an outdoor ceiling fan has, the less air it tends to circulate.

Key considerations

An outdoor ceiling fan is not just a ceiling fan that you install outside. The unit needs to meet certain requirements in order to be rated for use outdoors. The two ratings an outdoor fan may have are damp rated and wet rated.

Damp rated

If you’d like to install a ceiling fan in an area that has moisture in the air but doesn’t expose the unit to the elements directly, you need a damp-rated outdoor ceiling fan. This type of outdoor ceiling fan uses materials that won’t easily rust or corrode; however, it doesn’t provide protection against rain or snow, so you must install this type of ceiling fan in an enclosed environment like a screened porch or garage. Additionally, you need to use a damp-rated ceiling fan in an environment with excessive moisture or humidity, such as a bathroom.

Wet rated

The motor casing on a wet-rated outdoor ceiling fan is sealed, which makes it weather resistant. These models can be exposed to the elements, making them ideal for use in gazebos, open decks, pergolas, or even cabanas. If you’re uncertain about the outdoor conditions, the wet-rated ceiling fan is the safest way to go.

EXPERT TIP

Besides being able to handle rain and snow, wet-rated ceiling fans can stand up to a salty breeze, so they’re ideal for use near the ocean.


Staff  | BestReviews

Outdoor ceiling fan features

After deciding on the rating, with few exceptions the other features are mostly stylistic options or extras that can increase your comfort level. The following are the most important elements to consider.

Blades

More isn't always better, especially when it comes to outdoor ceiling fan blades. It's actually the tilt (pitch) of the blades that’s important. (See the FAQ section below for more information.) If you prefer an outdoor ceiling fan with seven blades as opposed to three, that’s fine. Just understand that you’re making an aesthetic choice, and the seven-blade unit won’t deliver more of a breeze.

Mounting

The best position for an outdoor ceiling fan in terms of air circulation is between eight and nine feet above the ground. If your ceiling is only eight or nine feet high, you’re going to want a flush-mount fan that attaches directly to the ceiling. If you have a higher ceiling, you may need a downrod. This allows you to mount the fan on a high ceiling, but position the blades in the ideal position using the included hardware.

Light

If you intend on using your outdoor ceiling fan in the evening or in a shaded area, you may want to look for a unit that includes a light.

Motor

Speeds: Most decent outdoor ceiling fans have a motor that runs at three speeds. When the air is cooler, such as when the sun goes down, you’ll appreciate a fan that can rotate at a slower speed. To make sure you can adjust yours to the optimum setting for your needs, choose a model that has three speeds.

Reverse: An outdoor ceiling fan functions differently depending on which direction the blades are rotating. In hotter weather, you typically want your blades spinning so the air is moved in a downward direction. In cooler weather, you want the fan pulling cool air up and pushing warm air down along the walls. If you’d like to have this feature, your outdoor ceiling fan needs to have a reverse switch.

Noise level: If noise bothers you, look for a ceiling fan that features a quiet motor.

Remote

Once you've grown accustomed to a remote, you’ll never want to get up and walk over to a manual switch again, especially if you’re lounging around enjoying the sun. If an outdoor ceiling fan with a remote fits within your budget, it’s a feature you’ll love.

Color and materials

You’ll find the greatest variety in outdoor ceiling fans in the color and the materials used in their manufacture. Whether you’re looking for something contemporary, rustic, metal, or wicker, don't stop your search until you find the model that has the aesthetics you desire.

EXPERT TIP

If the leading edge of a fan’s blade is lower than the trailing edge, the fan creates an updraft. If the leading edge is higher, the fan moves air downward, which is best for achieving a cooling effect.


Staff  | BestReviews

Outdoor ceiling fan prices

Inexpensive: At the lower end of the price scale, from about $40 to $100, you can find smaller, basic outdoor ceiling fans that provide a breeze but have a generic design and may be a little noisy.

Mid-range: From $100 to $200 is where the more affordable, higher-quality models reside. In this range, you can find a wide variety of styles and definitely something that would fit your décor. But these models probably won't have the best selection of lights, and it might be hard to find an outdoor ceiling fan with a remote in this price range.

Expensive: These models have everything: larger size, low noise, elegant design, wide selection of lights, and remote. To have all of these desirable features, you'll need to spend from $200 to $400 or more.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan, be sure the electrical junction box is rated to support a ceiling fan.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

In order for your ceiling fan to be the most effective, it must be properly sized and positioned. The following are a few tips to help you.

  • 29- to 36-inch outdoor ceiling fan for a space up to 75 square feet
  • 36- to 42-inch outdoor ceiling fan for a space 75 to 144 square feet
  • 44-inch outdoor ceiling fan for a space 144 to 225 square feet
  • 50- to 54-inch outdoor ceiling fan for a space 225 to 400 square feet
  • Stay in the center. Mount your outdoor ceiling fan as close as possible to the center of the space you want covered.
  • Avoid the walls. Keep all ceiling fan blades at least 18 inches from the walls.
  • Keep it high. An outdoor ceiling fan should never be lower than seven feet. The ideal height for an outdoor ceiling fan is between eight and nine feet. If you have a very high ceiling, consider using a downrod so that the fan is more effective.

Other products we considered

To be sure that we’re offering you a wide selection of the very best outdoor ceiling fans, here are a few more highly rated models. The 53-inch indoor/outdoor Hunter Fan Company Bridgeport White Ceiling Fan features a pull-chain control. The 13° blade pitch allows for optimized airflow, and the kit includes two- and three-inch downrods to help ensure ideal installation height. The innovative, award-winning Harbor Breeze Twin Breeze II Ceiling Fan features two ceiling fans separated by a central light. This affordable unit is designed for larger rooms and has three speeds. On the higher end, the 72-inch, damp-rated Casa Vieja Predator Outdoor Ceiling Fan includes a remote control. The 14° pitch, cherry-finish blades offer optimum airflow.

The greater the number of blades your outdoor ceiling fan has, the more drag it creates and the harder the motor has to work to spin those blades.

FAQ

Q. Can I use any ceiling fan outdoors?
A.
No. Ceiling fans that are rated for outdoor use are manufactured differently than indoor units. They have all-weather blades, they use galvanized steel and powder-coated paint to help prevent rust, and the motor casing has a waterproof seal. Even if the area is mostly protected from the weather, an indoor, dry-rated fan should never be placed in an area that may contain moisture in the air.


Q. Where can I place my outdoor ceiling fan?
A.
There are two types of outdoor fans: damp rated and wet rated. A damp-rated fan cannot be directly exposed to the elements, so it should only be placed in a covered porch, garage, or bathroom. Wet-rated fans, on the other hand, are designed to be completely exposed to the elements. These fans can go in a cabana, gazebo, pergola, or even an exposed deck.

 

Q. What is blade pitch?
A.
It isn’t the style or number of blades that determines airflow; it’s the pitch of the blades. The pitch refers to how much tilt there is in the angle of the blades. A 0° pitch would be completely horizontal and wouldn't move very much air. The optimum blade pitch is between 12° and 15°, which offers a decent breeze but not overpowering wind.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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