What’s The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Ceiling Fans?

I​f you’re building or remodeling your home, you might be considering installing new ceiling fans. Surprisingly, there are a lot of options to pick from at the hardware store.

Indoor ceiling fans, outdoor ceiling fans, damp or wet rated ceiling fans… isn’t a ceiling fan just a ceiling fan? What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor ceiling fans?

T​he difference between indoor and outdoor ceiling fans is the materials used to make them. An outdoor fan is constructed with waterproof materials and includes a waterproof seal around the motor to make sure no water gets in it. An indoor ceiling fan, on the other hand, isn’t made with any waterproof materials and isn’t suited for outdoor use.

I​n the rest of this article, we’ll talk more about the differences between indoor and outdoor ceiling fans. We’ll also discuss the difference between damp rated and wet rated ceiling fans.

Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor Ceiling Fans

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W​hat’s The Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor Ceiling Fans?

Indoor and outdoor ceiling fans are designed to be used in very different circumstances and environments, so they are constructed differently. While they both circulate air, they aren’t interchangeable.

A​n outdoor fan is created using waterproof materials such as plastic or stainless steel. If the ceiling fan is rained on, this waterproof material won’t warp or rust.

In addition, the motor is typically coated with a waterproof seal so that water doesn’t come into contact with the motor. Outdoor fans also typically have a stronger motor to better cool a large outdoor area.

A​n indoor fan, on the other hand, is typically constructed with furniture-grade wood. This is very aesthetically pleasing, but it’s not waterproof–so if the fan blades come into contact with moisture, they may warp.

An indoor fan is also lacking the waterproof seal around the motor. If moisture gets inside the motor, it can cause an electrical fire.

Can You Use An Outdoor Ceiling Fan Indoors?

I​t’s perfectly acceptable to use an outdoor ceiling fan indoors. The waterproof materials will prevent any damage from a leaking roof or fire suppression sprinkler system.

Many outdoor ceiling fans are quite attractive, and their increased motor capacity allows for a greater cooling effect.

I​f you’re considering using an outdoor ceiling fan indoors, you should know that they are typically more expensive than indoor-only ceiling fans. This is due to the upgraded materials and strength of the fan.

C​an Indoor Ceiling Fans Be Used Outdoors?

A​n indoor ceiling fan should never be used outdoors. Doing so is an enormous fire hazard. Because indoor ceiling fans aren’t constructed using waterproof materials and a waterproof seal around the motor, moisture may seep into the motor and cause an electrical short or even an electrical fire.

While it may be cheaper initially to buy an indoor ceiling fan to use outdoors, you’ll pay significantly more in the long run. Even if there’s never an electrical fire, the moisture seeping into the internal components of your fan will cause it to stop working sooner, leading to higher repair and replacement costs.

I​t’s always best to pay the additional cost upfront and buy an outdoor ceiling fan for your outside space. You’ll save yourself many headaches and repair costs.

W​hat Happens If You Use An Indoor Ceiling Fan Outdoors?

I​f you use an indoor ceiling fan outdoors, you run the risk of an electrical fire.

Using an indoor ceiling fan outdoors is every bit as dangerous as plugging a hair dryer into an outlet and leaving outside in a thunderstorm. Moisture will leak into the motor compartment over time, coming into contact with the electrical components and potentially causing a fire.

Even if there isn’t an electrical fire, using an indoor ceiling fan outdoors will cause the fan to stop working prematurely. The moisture leaking into the inner compartment of the fan will hasten the degradation of the fan’s motor. The fan blades can also warp or rust from coming into contact with moisture.

T​he Difference Between Damp Rated And Wet Rated Ceiling Fans

T​he difference between damp and wet rated ceiling fans is the amount of moisture they can handle.

As the names suggest, a damp rated ceiling fan can tolerate damp conditions, while a wet rated ceiling fan can handle being soaked by a rainstorm.

D​amp rated ceiling fans are intended to be used in covered areas such as a screened-in porch. They can handle heat, humidity, and some mist blown in from a summer storm. They can’t, however, withstand moisture falling directly on the top of the fan’s motor.

Thankfully, almost every outdoor situation where a fan is desired only requires a damp rated fan.

A wet rated fan, on the other hand, is designed to withstand the wettest of conditions. For example, if you place a ceiling fan in a pergola, you’ll need a wet rated fan.

The lack of a roof means rain will fall directly onto the top of the fan’s motor. Wet rated ceiling fans are always constructed entirely of waterproof materials.

W​hat Makes A Ceiling Fan Damp Rated?

A ceiling fan is damp rated if it can withstand light amounts of moisture. They cannot, however, handle large amounts of moisture gathering on the top of the fan. This is because they aren’t made of entirely waterproof material.

Because they don’t use entirely waterproof materials, many damp rated ceiling fans are more aesthetically pleasing than wet rated ceiling fans. While wet rated ceiling fans use plastic or stainless steel materials, many damp rated fans use wooden blades that have been sealed with a layer of protective material.

I​f you’re looking for a ceiling fan to use in your screened-in porch or other covered outdoor area, you will only need a damp rated ceiling fan. However, if your fan will be subjected to rain falling on the top of the motor, you’ll need to purchase a wet rated ceiling fan.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the difference between an indoor and outdoor ceiling fan, I’m sure you can appreciate the importance of using the correct type of fan for your situation.

By all means, use an outdoor ceiling fan indoors, but never use an indoor fan outdoors.