If you enjoy relaxing or entertaining outside, particularly during the warm summer months, an outdoor fan helps keep you cool and may even drive away insects. To make the most out of your outdoor ceiling fan, you need to choose the right type of fan and make sure to install it correctly. For many people, this means hiring an electrician or handyman to perform the install.
You find outdoor fans in an amazing variety of styles and designs that let you match them to any décor. Popular fan blade designs include tropical leaves, pineapples, and boat sails.
Outdoor ceiling fans come in two basic types: wet rated and damp rated. Even if you live in a fairly dry climate, you want a fan designed for outdoor use, since the blades are made from a plastic-based material or canvas rather than wood. The elements – rain, sleet, snow, and hail – cause wood blades to warp.
An Underwriters Laboratory (UL) damp rated fan works well in outdoor areas with a solid roof. Openings should be screened, or else the fan should be placed where it isn't likely to receive direct contact with rain or snow. Pricing varies considerably, starting at around $100 for a standard model, but you can spend thousands of dollars on designer or custom-made fans.
A UL wet rated fan has a moisture-proof, watertight motor casing, which is why they stand up to extreme weather conditions, even direct exposure to rain and snow. Prices are similar to UL-damp fans.
If your home is near the ocean, you should always choose a UL-wet fan. This is due to the air's high salt content, which leads to corrosion. The UL-wet fan's motor design resists these corrosive properties.
Installation is fairly simple if the area already has an overhead light, since you can simply replace the light with your new fan. If you hire an electrician or professional installer, this should also save you money on your install costs.
If the area does not already have wiring or conduit running through it, the job becomes a bit more difficult. Your installer will need to run wiring and install an electrical junction box as well, especially if you want an on/off switch.
The fan style plays a large role in determining its cost.
- Contemporary: If you want a modern, minimalistic look, you probably want a contemporary fan. Often monochromatic, these fans start at around $100 and top out at around $2,000.
- Traditional: These are classic styles that often include antique motifs and wooden blades (or faux wood, for an outdoor fan). Prices range from $50 to $900, with designer models topping $3,000.
- Transitional: This is a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, with prices starting as low as $50 and going up to around $900, though you can pay as much as $2,000 for a designer fan.
- Tropical: These often feature themed blades, such as tropical leaves, and use natural materials. Prices start at around $150 and go up to around $1,800. Designer fans in the tropical style can top $10,000.
In addition to the fan itself, you have labor charges if you hire someone to professional mount the fan. These vary considerably according to where you live and how complicated the installation is. If you hire a handyman, hourly rates tend to fall in the $60 to $90 per hour range. Hiring a licensed electrician takes that hourly rate to the $75 to $150 range.
If the installation doesn't require running additional electrical wire, it should take around one to two hours to complete. If you need to run new wiring, you're looking at around $7 per foot for the materials. Upgrading your circuit panel may cost anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000. Request estimates from at least three installers to determine common pricing for your area. If you need extensive electrical work, it's better to hire a licensed electrician than a handyman to complete the job.
You may prefer an outdoor fan with a remote control. Costs are fairly similar, ranging from around $130 to $1,000. A ceiling fan that includes a light fixture also won't raise your overall cost very much, and it ensures you don't lose outdoor lighting if you're replacing a patio or deck light with a ceiling fan. In addition, the switch currently used to operate the light works for the ceiling fan, meaning you don't have to install an electrical junction box.
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