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Buying guide for Best low-profile ceiling fans

If your home has low ceilings, you might struggle to find fans and light fixtures that won’t dwarf the space – or cause any head injuries. In that case, your best option is a low-profile ceiling fan.

Low-profile ceiling fans hang flush with the ceiling, without a downrod, and so fit better in small spaces. Once you’ve found a fan that’s the right size, there are other decisions to make. What kind of motor? What type of blades? What finish? Do you want remote control or a wall switch? What about a light? It can all seem a little overwhelming if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

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Modern low-profile ceiling fans come with anywhere from two to nine blades.


Indoor vs. outdoor

If you’re looking for a low-profile ceiling fan for your back porch, you’re going to have very different requirements than if you’re looking for a fan for your living room. First, make sure that the fan you choose is designed for its intended location.

  • Dry-rated: If the ceiling fan is going indoors, look for a dry-rated ceiling fan.
  • Damp- or wet-rated: Put a dry-rated ceiling fan outdoors and it won’t be working for very long. Outdoors, you need a damp- or wet-rated fan. These are meant to withstand humidity and slight moisture but not come into direct contact with water. These ceiling fans are best for covered areas, like porches, or indoor areas where there might be a lot of moisture in the air, like bathrooms. If there’s a chance that the fan could get rained on, choose a wet-rated fan. These fans have a water-resistant housing that protects all the electrical components against damage and short-circuiting, as well as durable blades that won’t warp or wear out when left outside in the elements.


The ceiling fan motor is a crucial feature because it determines how much air gets moved around, how energy efficient the fan is, and how loud the fan is.

  • AC motor: Ceiling fan motors most commonly use alternating current (AC), and these types are usually the most affordable. However, AC motors are usually larger than DC motors, which means that the fan itself is also much larger. These also tend to produce more noise and heat while operating.

  • DC motor: Direct current (DC) fan motors are a relatively new addition to ceiling fans, but they’re quickly gaining popularity because they’re smaller, lighter, and more efficient than AC motors. DC fan motors consume 70% less power on average and are virtually silent when operating. The smaller motor size also means a smaller housing that doesn’t take up as much room on your ceiling.

    DC fan motors also generate more airflow, which means that the fan will cool the room better. High airflow is especially important when choosing a low-profile ceiling fan. The blades are so close to the ceiling that it can be difficult to move the air effectively, so a wise choice would be a powerful fan motor that has a minimum airflow of 5,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) on its highest setting.

Fan blades

When evaluating fan blades, you should focus more on the material than the number. The number of blades doesn’t significantly impact the airflow, so it’s more of an aesthetic choice. Fan blades are made of a number of different materials, each of which has its own pros and cons.

  • MDF: Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) blades are lightweight and covered with a laminate coating to resemble wood. These are common, especially at the the lower end of the price range. Some blades are a different color on each side, so you can choose the one that best matches your room. These blades don’t hold up well in moisture (they may begin to droop) and so aren’t ideal for humid environments.

  • Wood: Wooden blades are thicker and heavier than MDF blades and can add a luxurious look to your space. These blades work best indoors but can also withstand some exposure to moisture outdoors. Wooden blades usually cost more than other types.

  • Plastic: Plastic is another inexpensive option for fan blades because it’s easy to make and mold into the proper shape. These blades are a good choice if you’re looking for a fan for use outdoors because they won’t droop or fall apart in the elements. Plastic blades aren’t as common as MDF blades, but like MDF, some plastic blades are reversible.

  • Blade size: Ideally, you want at least seven feet between the ceiling fan and the floor, which shouldn’t be an issue if you’re going with a low-profile ceiling fan. But you also have to think about the length of the blades and how they will fit into your space. In order to avoid having your fan blades dwarf the space, there should be at least 1.5 feet between the tips of the fan blades and the walls.


Not all low-profile ceiling fans come with lights. It’s a matter of personal preference and what the space requires. If the room is already well lit, you might not want a fan with a light. But a light on the fan can be a nice addition if the room is dimly lit.

Keep in mind that a fan with lights might hang a little lower than a fan without lights, so you have to make sure that it won’t hang too low or overpower the space. Check to see that any lights that come with the fan are bright enough for your needs. Sometimes the included bulbs are too dim, so you might want to replace them.

Some fans that don’t come with a light built in still have the connections, so you can add a light later if you want to. However, these lights attach to the bottom of the fan and often hang down much lower than lights that come built into a fan.


Most ceiling fans come with a basic pull chain that enables you to adjust the fan’s speed and turn any lights on and off. But this isn’t always ideal, especially if the ceiling is high. In that case, you’ll want to look for a fan that you can control with either a wall switch or remote control. A remote control offers the ultimate convenience because you can adjust the fan’s settings and turn any lights on and off without having to move.


Some low-profile ceiling fans are easier to install than others. This won’t be an issue if you plan to hire someone to install it for you, but if you’re going to do it yourself, get some idea of how simple the installation process is by reading through customer reviews. If the model you’re looking at has a lot of complaints about the installation, that probably isn’t the right choice unless you have a lot of technical know-how.

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Did you know?
"Some ceiling fans come with reversible rotation so that they can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter."

Low-profile ceiling fan prices

Low-profile ceiling fans range in price from $50 or over $300, depending on what you’re looking for.


For under $100, you can expect to get a basic, no-frills low-profile ceiling fan. The blades will likely be MDF, and you’ll probably be limited to pull-chain controls. These fans are usually only safe for indoor use and might end up warping or breaking if exposed to a lot of moisture.


There are more style options if you spend between $100 and $200. These fans are more likely to have integrated lights and possibly blades made of solid wood. If you want a fan with a quiet and efficient DC motor, you should expect to spend at least this much.


If you spend over $200, you’ll get more advanced features like dimmable lights and a reverse function. Most of these fans come with DC motors and sturdy, high-quality blades. You’ll have to decide if these extras are worth the added cost to you.


  • If you’re replacing an old ceiling fan, you should be able to reuse the existing wiring.

  • Ceiling fans must be hung from a junction box that is fan rated to ensure that the fan’s weight won’t pull it out of the ceiling.

  • If your fan has reversible rotation, run it counterclockwise in the summer for a cooler breeze and clockwise in the winter to push the warmer air back down.

  • If your ceiling fan light is difficult to reach, install LED bulbs because these usually last the longest.

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If you’re concerned about energy efficiency, look for a fan with an Energy Star rating.


Q. How far will a low-profile ceiling fan hang down from the ceiling?

A. That depends on several factors, including whether or not the fan has a light attached. There should be at least eight inches between the fan blades and the ceiling in order for the fan to circulate an adequate amount of air.

Q. Can I hang a low-profile ceiling fan on an angled ceiling?

A. No. Low-profile ceiling fans are not equipped to hang from an angled ceiling. You will need to choose a fan that comes with a downrod.

Q. How do I maintain my low-profile ceiling fan?

A. Always read your owner’s manual for any details on required maintenance or cleaning. In general, these fans require little maintenance, but if they haven’t been used in a while, you might have to dust the tops of the blades.

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