Which way do I operate my ceiling fan in the winter and summer?
This post was awarded number 1 answer at Yahoo! Answers.
After being in the ceiling fan business for over 20 years, I’ve answered this question thousands of times…in several ways. The technical answer from the fan manufacturers is: During the summer the fan should run counter clockwise (as you look up at it). During the winter, clockwise at a low speed. However, most people get confused with this answer…and can’t remember the next day, which is correct. Plus, it is not 100% correct.
So, here are some alternative answers:
During the summer, you want the air blowing directly on you so you will feel cooler from the wind chill effect (which is how fans cool you off). So stand under the fan and turn it up on high speed. If you “Do Not” feel the air very well, then turn the fan off and flick the reverse toggle switch. Turn it back on high speed. If you feel more air, you have it in the right position. So whichever position you feel the most air movement when standing directly under the fan is the correct position for summer. If you do not feel much air in either direction, then your fan has a very weak motor with a relatively flat pitch to the blade. Fans like this won’t do much good for you in either direction during the summer. If this is this case, you may wish to consider visiting a specialty fan dealer online to get a more powerful fan than the ones they sell at the home centers.
During the winter, it is the opposite. You do not want to feel the air movement from the fan blowing directly on you since this will make you feel cooler from the wind chill effect. So, again…stand under the fan and turn it up on high speed. Whichever mode you feel the least amount of air is the correct mode for winter. However, you want to operate the fan at a low speed during the winter, otherwise, even in the correct mode, you will still get some wind chill effect, which you do not want.
To set the matter straight about how fans work during the winter and summer:
During winter (in the correct mode as described above), the fan will slowly draw the cooler air from floor level directly below the fan upwards to the ceiling where it mixes with the warmer air. The air is then kicked out across the ceiling towards the walls as it comes down. This circulates the air giving you the least amount of direct air movement, which minimizes the wind chill effect.
During the summer, you want the maximum wind chill effect, so the main column of air that rushes straight down from the fan is what you will feel the most. However, if your fan is not directly over the area where you want to feel coolest, say your room is rather large with a fan in the middle and your couch closer to an outer wall, you might find yourself more comfortable if you run the fan at a high speed in the wrong direction because the wind chill effect will be more prominent further away from the fan closer to the walls.
One customer told me how he determined the best direction to operate his fans. He turned on a bubble machine in his home and watched where the bubbles went. To this day, I think this is the most ingenious answer I’ve heard to the question.