What Is The Switch For On A Ceiling Fan?

With the flick of a switch, the press of a button, or the tug of a chain, you can turn on your ceiling fan and adjust the speed at which it operates. But what does the little switch on it do?

A much less commonly known feature on a ceiling fan is the little switch found on the outside of the motor housing. This switch changes the direction of airflow. It does this by changing the direction the blades spin, thus providing different benefits to the room depending on the season.

Flipping this little switch can either cool you off in the summer months or disperse warm air more evenly in the winter.

The way it pushes air can help you save money on energy costs when used and installed properly. Take a look at our article about which way a ceiling fan should a ceiling fan turn to learn more.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how the direction of airflow works to your advantage.

Ceiling Fan Switch

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Using the Switch In Warmer Months

The direction your ceiling blades turn will affect how cool your house feels in the spring and summer months. Typically, a ceiling fan is preset to turn counterclockwise. This happens to be the best setting for airflow direction during those hotter days.

The counterclockwise rotation helps you feel cool by sucking air from above and pushing the air down towards you. With the airflow being pushed towards you, your ceiling fan creates an indoor wind chill. This will help you and the room feel cooler than it is by creating a comfortable breeze.

Ceiling fans don’t actually lower a rooms temperature. The movement of air and wind chill effect only makes it feel cooler than it is.

Using the Switch In Cooler Months

Fans are most used to help people cool down during higher temperatures. It is no wonder then why this little switch gets overlooked. Many people are unaware of a ceiling fan’s dual nature and the perks that come with the flip of a switch.

When you flip that little switch found on the motor housing unit, the direction of the ceiling blades switches from counterclockwise to clockwise. In this direction, the air is pulled up towards the ceiling rather than pushed down towards the floor.

How Does This Help the Room Feel Warm?

Hot air and cold air have different densities. This means that one is heavier than the other. In this case, hot air is lighter and rises while cold air is heavier and drops or stays at ground level.

When you turn on the heat during the winter, the hot air rises and collects at the ceiling, closer to where the ceiling fan is. When the switch is set clockwise for the winter months, the ceiling fan will take that hot air and propel it towards the surface of the ceiling.

This may sound counterproductive, but it helps the hot air makes its way back down.

When the ceiling fan propels the hot air towards the ceiling by sucking air up, the hot air will disperse along the ceiling.

When it does this, the air is then guided by the dimension of the room and down the side walls with the consistent flow of air. In effect, the ceiling fan pushes the air back down to the floor and creates a circular flow of warm air.

Read more about how a ceiling fan can help in the winter.

Flipping The Switch Saves Money

Flipping the switch according to hot and cold weather can save you money in the long run. But how?

  • Ceiling fans, as mentioned, don’t lower the temperature of a room but can make it feel more comfortable. Thus, keeping you from cranking up the air conditioning and helping prevent a rise in your energy costs.
  • It also costs less to run a ceiling fan compared to an air conditioning unit. Air conditioning uses a significantly larger amount of energy than a ceiling fan.
  • The same is true for the winter. Instead of fighting the cold and trying to keep a room warm by cranking up the heat, the distribution of hot air from where it gathers can save you money.

Ceiling Fan Placement is Important

In all reality, flipping the switch on your ceiling fan won’t have much of an effect on how comfortable your household gets if it is not strategically placed or installed.

To get the most out of your fan and the features that flipping the switch can provide you, you will want to make sure you place it in the correct location. You will want to place the ceiling fan in the center of the room to allow it to disperse air evenly.

You’ll also want to install the ceiling fan anywhere from 10 to 12 inches from the ceiling. Most especially, you will want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to what is the ideal placement and installation for your specific brand and size of a ceiling fan.

Final Thoughts

For such a small switch, it makes a big difference. Always remember to set it to counterclockwise for the hotter months and clockwise for the colder.

Enjoy the perks it has to offer by staying comfortable in your own home while cutting energy costs in the long run.