Electrical, Home Improvement

Residential Electrician: Ceiling Fan or Box Fan, What Is the Better Choice?

Fans are an economic and environmentally friendly way to cool a home and circulate air than using air conditioning. There are two main kinds of fans for home use, ceiling fans and box fans. Each type of fan has its own advantages and disadvantages, applications, costs, and installation issues. To decide which kind of fan is right for a given situation it is important to understand these factors.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are permanent fixtures that can be installed to circulate air and cool a whole room with rotation from above. Since they are hard-wired into the electrical system they should be installed by a certified residential electrician. Some ceiling fans have light fixtures, and many have designs that compliment a room’s décor. In hot weather, ceiling fans can be set to turn counter-clockwise to give a cooling draft and disperse hot air. In cool weather, the blades’ rotation can be reversed to bring warmer air down from the ceiling.

Box Fans

Box fans are portable and can be moved from one area of the home to another to provide focused cooling and airflow as needed. They can be installed in a window to bring in cooler air from outside on lower stories, especially on windward sides of the home. Since heat rises, another tactic to cool a home with box fans is to install them facing-out in windows on top floors. This blows the room’s accumulated hot air outside. Box fans don’t need installation by a residential electrician. They are also cheaper than ceiling fans, and are portable and easily directed at a desired area.

Cost Comparison

Ceiling fans are generally more expensive, but they are also much longer-lived. There are cheaper models that can be bought from home-improvement stores that don’t have light fixtures or are simpler in design. Though many people install their own ceiling fans, it is recommended that a residential electrician perform any kind of electrical alterations. This is because of safety concerns as well as issues of potentially voiding home insurance. Box fans are less expensive and are more focused, but it often takes several of these to equal one ceiling fan in whole-room cooling power.

Safety and Convenience

Ceiling fans can provide safe, long-term cooling and air circulation for years, since they are permanent fixtures. They are highly convenient when the on/off function is wired to a wall switch and need little maintenance other than a wipe-down of the blades and oiling of the bearings every few months. Box fans can tip over easily, accumulate dust and dirt quickly, need frequent cleaning, and have safety issues with trailing cords. It is also inconvenient to have to carry a fan from one room to the other.


It is highly recommended that residential electricians install ceiling fans, especially those with light fixtures and dimmer/fan-speed switches. It is a relatively simple process for the installer. They shut off power to the room; drill a hole in the ceiling to accommodate the anchor post and expose the wiring; then carefully integrate the fan into the room’s circuits. Box fans should only be installed in windows with screens to keep insects and other airborne debris blown into the room to a minimum. Box fans only need to be plugged into a wall outlet.

Fans are a major convenience and cost-cutter for home cooling and air movement. Each kind of fan has its own place and application. For long-term cooling and convenience ceiling fans are the clear winners, but for portable, directed airflow at a lesser price box fans come out on top. Both kinds of fans can be used to keep a home cooler and well-ventilated.

With over 30 years of experience, Bob Lord is an expert at installing and repairing electrical wiring. Bob has a unique and outstanding knowledge of residential and commercial electrical installation and repair [http://mrelectricreno.com/blog/].

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