Ceiling Fan Lights Buying Guide
A ceiling fan with lights brings superior lighting and improved airflow to any room in your home. Yet buying the right fan and the right lights aren’t as simple as selecting the first model you see. Dozens of options are available, ranging from different fan types and styles to different light types and styles.
Your choices affect both the look and functionality of your fan and lights. Our buyer’s guide below breaks down each specific option to make buying ceiling fan lights that much easier.
A. Ceiling Fan Type
Searching for the right type of ceiling fan lights starts with selecting the main type. The type you choose dictates the type of lighting that works best. It also dictates which type of lighting looks the most stylish.
The main types are standard, low-profile, Energy Star, dual-motor, and damp/wet.
1. Standard Fan
As its name implies, a standard ceiling fan is the most common type. You’ve likely seen the standard type in multiple homes before. They’re notable for their five-blade design, installation on a downrod, and built-in light.
The standard option is the most versatile and customizable. They come in a variety of colors and finishes. They’re available in a variety of different materials.
The light is likewise customizable. Most come with light shades that are available in numerous styles and finishes. Switch up the look of your standard fan model with an aftermarket light kit to create an entirely unique look for your home.
2. Low-Profile Fan
Low-profile options are also popular and found in a lot of homes. Commonly called “hugger fans” or referred to as “flush-mount,” the low-profile type is installed directly onto a mounting bracket. Unlike standard models, low-profile models don’t require a downrod.
This unique style of installation makes them a perfect fit for rooms with low ceilings. There are also numerous customization options available. You can change the color and finish to match your personal preferences.
Multiple fixtures and lighting options allow you to modify to your liking.
3. Energy Star Fan
Energy Star ceiling fans are quickly becoming a popular option in homes across the country. These energy-efficient fans are available in several distinct varieties, including standard and low-profile models.
To receive an Energy Star rating, these fans must use 20% less energy than current federal requirements. The best of the best use more than 50% less energy than federal standards mandate.
The increased energy efficiency of Energy Star models equals lower monthly utility bills. It also improves the overall environmental friendliness of these fans. Most Energy Star models have the same potential for customization as standard and low-profile models.
4. Dual-Motor Fan
Source: Dan’s Fan City
Another, albeit less common, option is the dual motor ceiling fan. This model, as its name implies, has two motors. Usually, this means that the fan is made of two fans.
Dual-motor fans can circulate air over a greater distance than normal. This makes them popular in public buildings, though they also work well in spacious homes. Each of the two fans can also be individually adjusted, enabling you to direct the airflow in a certain direction or at certain speeds.
Style is another big reason people invest in dual-motor models. They add to the look of a room when paired with the right types of lights.
5. Damp and Wet Fan
Damp and wet ceiling fans are created with materials that resist warping and other humidity damage. Durable all-weather blades are a key design component. A damp model is best for rooms with high humidity but no precipitation.
Think bathrooms, covered porches, and sunrooms. A wet model can be used in rooms with actual precipitation. They’re most commonly used in open, exterior buildings like gazebos.
Special wet models are designed to stand up to even more abuse. These heavy-duty models can be used in snow as well as areas that receive heavy ocean spray. The type of lights used must also be heavy duty.
The lights themselves should also be able to stand up to high humidity levels.
B. Ceiling Fan Style
After deciding upon the right type of ceiling fan for your home, it’s time to think about its style. Both the fans and the lights are available in numerous styles, ranging from modern to rustic to models designed specifically for kids. Select the style that looks best with the rest of your home furnishings and décor.
1. Modern Style
Select a modern style fan with lights to complement a modern living space. These fans are often constructed from bronze, steel, nickel, or chrome, though real wood and synthetic materials are also used. Clean, simple lines and neutral colors are common.
The modern style adds a dose of simplicity and elegance to any room.
2. Contemporary Style
Go with a contemporary model with lights to balance the contemporary design of your home. Unlike their modern counterparts, these fans tend to feature smooth, rounded edges rather than stark lines. They’re usually built with bronze, steel, nickel, and real wood.
Contemporary models work as a focal point of your room or simply as a functional accessory.
3. Traditional Style
Source: Home Depot
Choose a traditional style fan with lights for a look that’s nothing short of, well, traditional. Designed with a classic, almost outdated style, these fans work perfectly in a traditionally decorated room. They help create a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.
Traditional fan models, while nice looking, are more focused on function than fashion.
4. Transitional Style
Add a transitional style fan with lights to any room with a transitional home design. Transitional home design is a combination of traditional and contemporary design. It’s warm, elegant, and comfortable with a healthy dose of simple, clean lines.
Transitional models are a popular option for homes somewhere on the scale between contemporary and traditional.
5. Rustic Style
Source: Modern Fan Outlet
A rustic style home needs a rustic style fan with lights. These gorgeous fans are often constructed from aged materials like wood and steel. They’re notable for their unpretentious look and the natural warmth they add to a room.
Rustic style models look best in cabins, though they’re a good choice for any home design that focuses on natural beauty first and foremost.
6. Victorian Style
Source: Dan’s Fan City
The ornate and expensive look of the Victorian home design is hard to miss. If you live in a Victorian style home, chose a Victorian style fan with lights for a pleasing overall look. They often use expensive (or expensive-looking) materials to fit the atmosphere of the room.
A Victorian model fan and light will bring you back to the Victorian era of the 1800s in England.
7. Lantern Style
Source: Westinghouse Lighting
These fans utilize a lantern-style lighting fixture. They’re in a style class that’s all their own. Though the fan itself often utilizes contemporary, rustic, or traditional design, the lights themselves are built with a glass lantern fixture overtop.
The lantern style looks great in cottages and cabins, especially those with a nautical design theme.
8. Mission Style
Source: Warisan Lighting
Buy a Mission style fan with lights for any home decorated in the Mission style, a popular offshoot of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. These fans almost always employ at least some wood (usually dark in color with beautiful grains). Geometric lines are another notable feature.
Mission style fans help create a simple, casual look in any home.
9. Craftsman Style
A Craftsman style fan with lights looks perfect in just about any Craftsman style home. Another offshoot of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, the Craftsman style is notable for its handmade look. These ceiling fans are often made from warm, wooden materials.
Craftsman model fans bring a uniquely American look to your home.
10. Kids Style
Source: Warisan Lighting
Install a ceiling fan with lights in your child’s bedroom to add to almost any style of children’s décor. These fans are usually bright, colorful, and playful. They often utilize themes from movies, books, or sports.
This type of fan and light combo is sure to add even more joy to your child’s life.
C. Ceiling Fan Light Style
Now that you’ve selected your preferred type and style of a ceiling fan, it’s time to focus on the many types of lights available. You have two main options here: buy a fan with lights already installed or buy a fan without lights and add them yourself with a light kit. These light kits can also be added to a pre-existing fan.
Select a light that works well with both your fan and the overall décor of your home.
1. Bowl Lights
A bowl light usually consists of a glass bowl fixture covering a downlight. Many of these have a pull-chain feature. This style is simple, straightforward and compliments most styles of décor.
2. Branched Lights
A branched light has multiple light fixtures. They’re available with two, three, four, and five light configurations. Each light is usually adjustable so you can direct the light exactly where you want it to shine.
3. Schoolhouse Lights
Source: Warisan Lighting
A schoolhouse light is a stylish, retro option. They often utilize a vintage, antiquated light fixture, and cover/shade to truly capture the nostalgic look for an old schoolhouse.
4. Integrated Downlight Lights
Source: Kitchen Pendant Lighting
An integrated downlight light is built into the fan itself. They’re most common on low-profile model fans. These lights provide bright, direct light and are best used in smaller spaces.
5. Uplight Lights
Source: Regency Ceiling Fans
An uplight light is, as the name implies, a light that points up towards the ceiling.
The light reflects off the ceiling to provide illumination to a wider area. Of course, none of this illumination is direct and is noticeably dimmer than other options.
Uplights are still a good choice for rooms where direct lighting isn’t needed, such as bedrooms or dens where cozy, soft mood lighting is desirable.
D. Ceiling Fan Light Bulbs
The type of light fixture you choose is undoubtedly important. Another factor that’s equally important is the type of bulb used. Not only does the proper light bulb increase the overall functionality of your light, but it also enhances visual appeal.
Your light bulb options include CFL, incandescent, LED, halogen, and HID light bulbs.
1. CFL Light Bulb
Source: Home Depot
CFL light bulbs, short for compact fluorescent light bulbs, are one of the most popular options. Not only do they use up to 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs, but they also have a far longer lifespan. CFL light bulbs are best for a setup where the bulbs are not exposed.
They don’t work well with dimmer switches.
2. Incandescent Light Bulb
Incandescent light bulbs are the original form of electric lighting (created by Thomas Edison). Though they were once the most popular type of light bulb, their popularity has been overtaken by more energy efficient models (such as CFLs, LEDs, and halogen bulbs) in recent years.
Incandescent light bulbs are a good choice for dimmer switches.
3. LED Light Bulb
Source: Home Depot
LED light bulbs, short for light-emitting diode, is the most energy efficient type of light bulb. These bulbs consume far less power than other types of light bulbs. They also last much longer (with top models reaching 25,000 hours of use).
The downside to LED light bulbs is that they’re more expensive than other options.
4. Halogen Light Bulb
Source: Home Depot
Halogen light bulbs are notable for the warm, welcoming type of light they produce. Though they’re only 15% more energy efficient than incandescent lights, they’re still a popular option in living rooms and dining rooms thanks to the warm light they produce. The downside to halogen lights is that they also produce a lot of heat (as far as temperature goes).
5. HID Light Bulb
Source: Home Depot
HID light bulbs, short for high-intensity discharge light bulbs, are a less common lighting option. They’re most commonly used in large spaces such as warehouses (as well as outdoors for streetlights) because of their lighting power. Despite how uncommon they are in residential homes, they still make a good lighting choice in larger spaces like garages or workshops.
E. Ceiling Fan Design Options
Here comes the fun part – selecting the design of your ceiling fan lights. Now that all the technical decisions are out of the way, you can focus on giving your new fan and light combo the look you want it to have. Choose from a variety of colors, materials, finishes, sizes, and dimensions as well as different efficiency and airflow types.
1. Color, Materials, and Finish
Source: Hunter Fan
A nearly endless variety of colors, materials, and finishes are available for every aspect of your fan and light fixture. The color and finish depend largely upon materials. Common materials include steel, nickel, and bronze as well as a variety of different wood types.
Then there are synthetic materials. These are available in an even wider range of colors, and in models that mimic the look of wood and metal materials.
2. Size and Dimensions
Source: Regency Fans
Both fans and their lights are available in nearly any size you can imagine. Though there are some universal sizes that (supposedly) work well for any room, they most commonly range in size from around 12 inches to up to 72 inches in diameter. Determine the size of fan that you need by taking the square footage and height of the room in question into consideration.
Del Mar Fan & Lighting offers an invaluable guide to measuring and sizing a ceiling fan for any room.
3. Efficiency and Airflow
The motor is one of the most essential aspects of your new fan. A quality motor makes your fan more efficient and improves airflow in the room it’s installed in.
Your main options are DC motor fans, Energy Star fans, and high airflow fans.
F. Additional Features
If you want a fan and fan light that are unique, consider adding these additional features.
1. Light Color
Source: Warisan Lighting
Regular light bulbs tend to range from a warm white color (2500K to 3000K) to bright white (3000K to 4000K) to a daylight color (4000K to 6500K). Other options include colored lights that span the range of the rainbow. A fun choice for parties is to install black light bulbs on your fan light fixture.
The classic way to control a ceiling fan (and associated lighting) is via a pull-chain control.
Additional control options include:
- Wall Control – Change fan speed, fan direction, and lighting by pressing buttons on a stationary remote installed on a wall.
- Remote Control – A handheld remote control makes changing fan speed, fan direction, and lighting as easy as possible. Most have a range of around 25 to 50 feet.
- Smartphone – The latest fans and light fixtures can be controlled by installing an associated app on your smartphone.
- Voice Recognition – Special light bulbs now respond to voice recognition to turn their lights on and off.
A new technology that’s making waves in the lighting world is LED light bulbs with built-in Bluetooth speakers. Though fan lights aren’t the best place to install these light bulbs (because of the noise of the fan), it’s still an option for those that want something “off the wall” for their home.
G. More Details
Here are some other important factors to consider when buying ceiling fan lights.
Installing Ceiling Fan Lights
You have two main options when it comes to installing your fan and light combo: do it yourself or hire a professional. Most people will be able to install a light kit on a pre-existing fan themselves. These kits include everything you need to mount your new lighting kit on your fan.
Installing a ceiling fan from scratch is a different story. Though it’s a doable DIY job, it takes a little more know-how than just installing a fan light kit. The location is a major factor that dictates the difficulty of the project.
High ceilings and slanted ceilings make installing a fan much more difficult. Hiring a professional is a smart option for those uncomfortable or unable to install a fan on their own. Something else to keep in mind is that all fans and lights use electricity.
If you’re not comfortable working around electricity, it’s much safer to hire a professional contractor. It’s likewise essential to keep all of the Department of Energy fan and lighting regulations in mind when installing one in your home. Lowes offers a great resource on how to install or replace a ceiling fan.
Room and Location
It’s essential to buy the right size fan for the room it’s located in. First and foremost, an appropriately sized fan is the most efficient option. Just as important, the right sized fan increases safety.
A good way to figure out the best size fan for your ceiling is to take the length of the longest wall in the room. A wall less than 12 feet long warrants a model under 36 inches. A wall between 12 and 15 feet long requires a model between 40 and 48 inches.
Models over 52 inches are perfect for rooms with the longest wall over 15 feet. It’s also essential to locate your fan and light fixture in the center of the room. You don’t want it too close to the walls.
Your fan should be installed at least 10 inches from the ceiling (even low-profile models). Home Depot has a good guide on buying the right size ceiling fan.
Cost and Budget
The cost of installing a ceiling fan varies widely depending on the scope of the project. The first factor is the cost of materials. Low-end fans and lights run as low as under $100. High-end fans and lights run well over $2,000. Fan and lighting kits are a much cheaper option.
Low-end models can be found for as little as $25. High-end models tend to top out around $500. Your biggest expense when it comes to buying a new fan and light combo is installation. You’ll naturally pay more for professional installation than DIY installation.
According to Fixr.com, the average cost of installation is $575 for a mid-price 52-inch fan. They go on to give the low average of installation for a 52-inch fan as $110 (for a budget model) and the high average as $3,225 (for a high-end model with wall control).
Home Advisor, on the other hand, reports the average cost of installation of a ceiling fan as $241. The organization goes on to state that most homeowners spend between $143 and $351 to have a fan installed. Another factor to keep in mind is the fan’s efficiency.
Energy Star fans might cost more upfront, but they do wonders as far as saving you money on your utility bill. So factor in the predicted cost of electricity for the fan and lighting into your budget before making a final decision.
H. Where to Buy Ceiling Fan Lights Online
Now that you know how to find the perfect fan and lights for the ceiling of your home, you probably want to know where to buy them.
Our favorite places to buy ceiling fan lights online include: