ceiling fans

Besides fighting for the TV remote, the debate between going for the ceiling fan or the air conditioner has to be among the age-old debates in most families. Whenever this discussion comes up, everyone appears to have solid reasons as to why they prefer one over the other. Were we to view it objectively though, between a ceiling fan and an air conditioner, which one is the better purchase?

Key Differences

Okay, could we first get the money issue out of the way? It goes without saying that air conditioners could be more expensive to install and run as compared to a ceiling fan or any other air cooling fans for rooms. But is cost really the only issue to look at when deciding between the two? We need to understand that the variation in running cost arises primarily from the fact that while fans cool a space by circulating the still, hot air in the room and cooling the body temperature of its occupants, air conditioners cool a space by cooling the air in the room.

1. Air conditioners bring about an immediate cooling effect whereas it would take some time for you to experience the cooling effect of a fan.

2. Fans can be used for both indoor and outdoor cooling as well. While central AC units can only used indoor, unless you’re using a portable air conditioner.

3. Ceiling fans are easier to clean than air conditioners. The former just requires you to wipe the blades whereas an AC unit might require you to take the unit apart for effective cleaning of the filters.

4. On average a basic ceiling fan needs 25-90 watts whereas a small central AC could require as much as 500-3500 watts.

5. Fans are conveniently easy to carry around and install. On the other hand, air conditioners require quite some muscle to carry, and their installation also calls for some level of professional knowledge.

6. Fans can be quite noisy especially when running at maximum speed. Air conditioners, on the other hand, would often give off a pleasant hum. In the case of a well maintained and serviced air cons, the unit might not give off any sound.

7. Probabilities of an AC breaking down are higher than those of a fan breaking down. Furthermore, the AC would be more expensive to fix.

8. When running, an AC could dry out the cooled air, and this could cause physical discomfort to the user. A fan, on the other hand, does not result in dry air.  You can read more about this matter in United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Blog .

Apart from the major differences, each appliance comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages.

Ceiling Fan

✅ Pros
• Creates a breeze thus encouraging circulation of fresh air.
• Ceiling fans are a more natural and eco-friendly cooling option.
• If you get a fan with reversible rotation direction, the fan can be used to keep you either cool or warm depending on whether you are running it clockwise or counterclockwise.
• Many of the newer models come with the convenience of having a remote control just like an air conditioner.
• Hardly requires any maintenance.

☒ Cons
• Exposed swirling blades can be risky in a room with a low headroom or a hazard for, particularly taller people.
• Does not have sufficient power to reach every corner of the room effectively.

Air Conditioner 

✅ Pros
• A more effective option if you want to cool a large space.
• Has more cooling power than a fan can provide.
• Unlike fans, ACs actually cool the room.
• Can be set to a certain specific temperature.
• If you get a reverse cycle unit, it could not only keep you cool but could also keep you warm during cooler times of the year.

☒ Cons
• Have high operation and maintenance costs including regular cleaning.



So which of these two cooling appliances ends up taking the day? I would simply put it like this: a ceiling fan is a low risk/low reward option whereas an air conditioner is a high risk/high reward option. An air conditioner might be more expensive, but it will offer better and faster cooling as compared to a ceiling fan that is considerably cheaper. Perhaps the one area where a ceiling fan truly beats an AC hands down is when considering the fact that fans can be used both outdoors and indoors. If neither of these appliances satisfy your needs make sure to read our article about ceiling fans alternatives.

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