outdoor ceiling fan

Indoor vs Outdoor Ceiling Fans: What Are the Differences?

The perfect backyard patio can be a highlight for any home. You could use it to host your ultimate backyard BBQ or as a relaxing escape from everyday stress. While many people feel drawn to the outdoors, it is nice to bring a little of your “indoor comfort” with you when you venture outside. Choosing to install an outdoor ceiling fan in your outdoor living space is a great way to do just that. However, not all ceiling fans are created equal. Make sure you know what type of outdoor ceiling fan you will need. This article will go over the differences between indoor and outdoor ceiling fans to help you make an educated decision.

Why Can't I Use an Indoor Ceiling Fan as an Outdoor Ceiling Fan?

The question that is always raised in this situation is, “Why can’t I use my indoor ceiling fans outdoors?” This is a very valid question. The simplified answer is that outdoor ceiling fans are specially designed and built to withstand the elements. While an indoor ceiling fan may seem to be sturdy, installing a fan where in a location it was not made for may have pretty dangerous outcomes. Best case scenarios include excessive rust to the motor cover, or warped blades. Worst case scenarios include electrical shorts which could easily become extreme fire hazards. It is not worth the risk to install an indoor ceiling fan in your outdoor areas.

Importance of UL Ratings

Ceiling fans are given one of three different Underwriters Laboratories ratings: UL dry, UL damp, or UL wet. These ratings will safely determine where a fan should be installed.

UL Dry

Ceiling fans with UL Dry ratings are designed to be installed indoors. They were not made to withstand any sort of contact with the elements. Although they are labeled indoor fans, they typically do not fare well in rooms with built-up steam or moisture, such as bathrooms or laundry rooms. These fans are typically made with high quality furniture wood. The majority of fans on the market have a UL dry rating, giving you lots of options. Because these fans were not meant to come into contact with the elements, they also have more electronic upgrades and features available. They are often controlled with remotes, or wired to a light switch. These fans have the largest variety on the market.  If properly installed, and kept away from excessive moisture these ceiling fans are a long-lasting, stylish, and efficient way to cool your home.

Suggested Locations for UL Dry Rated Fans

  • Bedrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Dining rooms
  • Foyers

UL Damp

Ceiling fans with a UL damp rating are made to withstand excessive moisture. Although they can be exposed to moisture and humidity it is unwise to install them in a location that will have direct contact with the elements. The wiring inside a UL damp rated fan is protected and the covers over the motors are generally made from non corrosive material. This means UL damp rated fans can be used either as indoor or outdoor ceiling fans. They are ideal for any location that needs air circulation or extra lighting, but doesn’t rely entirely on the ceiling fan to stay cool.  

Suggested Locations for UL Damp Rated Fans

  • Bathrooms
  • Laundry rooms
  • Garages
  • Covered patios
  • Screened porches    

UL Wet

As you may have guessed, UL wet rated ceiling fans are specifically designed with come into direct contact with the elements. These ceiling fans can withstand the sun, heavy rain and wind, and even snow and ice. This means that these fans can be placed just about anywhere. They are built with special ABS plastics and all-weather blades to eliminate rust and warping due to exposure to the elements.  

Suggested Locations for UL Wet Rated Fans

  • Exposed decks or pergolas
  • Verandas outside beachfront homes
  • Gazebos
  • Cabanas

Benefits to Installing an Outdoor Ceiling Fan

Adding an outdoor ceiling fan to your backyard can be the best thing you do for yourself all summer long. Not only does a ceiling fan provide your outdoor space with much needed air circulation, but it can also add elements of light and design.

Added Air Circulation

The number one use of outdoor ceiling fans is to add a much needed element of air circulation. While we love to go outside, sometimes we crave the comforts of the indoors. Especially if you live in an area of high humidity and heat, the breeze generated by a ceiling fan can be a welcomed escape from the heat. Make sure your fan rotates in a counterclockwise direction to create a wind chill for optimum cooling.

Added Lighting

You can often find UL wet rated outdoor ceiling fans with special lighting options for outdoor use. This means next time you host an outdoor party your guests won’t have to go home at sundown, but can stay and enjoy the cooler evenings.

Added Elements of Style

There are also many different designs and styles of outdoor ceiling fans. Something for every outdoor living space. While there might not be as big of a selection as UL dry fans, outdoor fans can be found in a variety of designs and sizes. Ceiling fans can easily pair with outdoor furniture to create a beautiful aesthetic. This makes it easy to have a functioning fan without sacrificing any element of design. Many UL wet outdoor ceiling fans will have big blades that resemble palms or leaves which make them ideal for beach front properties.

Saving You Money

Installing the correct type of fan to your outdoor porch or patio is important if you would like to save money. While you may be able to find cheaper indoor ceiling fans, they will break and burn out quicker if improperly installed outdoors. You may also find yourself stuck with costly repairs from circuits shorting out and causing burns on your ceiling or outlets. Installing the correct type of ceiling fan will save you money in the long run.

Encouraging You to Get Outdoors

Maybe the best benefit of adding an outdoor ceiling fan to your backyard, is that it encourages you to spend time outdoors. There are so many health benefits, both physically and mentally, for people who spend time outdoors. Even if you are just reading a book on your back patio on the weeknights or inviting your neighbors over for a patio Sunday brunch. Getting yourself outdoors more often is always a good thing. 

In Conclusion

An outdoor ceiling fan can be a benefit to any outdoor living space. Make sure you choose the best UL rated ceiling fan for your intended location. Then get out and relax, and enjoy the cool breeze created by your outdoor ceiling fan.

Amy O'Brien

I am a mother, homeowner, and a DIY kind of gal. Whether it’s backpacking in the mountains or throwing a BBQ in my backyard, I love bringing my family to the great outdoors!

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