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Hotel Ceiling Fan Design Guide

How to Select the Right Ceiling Fans For Your Hotel Project

Factors to consider

Having decided to go with ceiling fans for your hotel you now need to choose the right make and model as well as work out how many you need and decide on what accessories you wish to go for.  This guide is in two parts.  In this part we consider the three overall basics in making a choice : function, form and price.  In Part 2 we will consider the specific technical features that will ensure you make the perfect choice and above all prevents you from wasting your money.

A Hunter Seville ceiling fan in the Warren House Hotel.

A Hunter Seville ceiling fan in the listed Warren House Hotel and Conference Centre, Kingston.

Functional Features to Consider

Function covers the technical specifications, performance, features, build quality and reliability of the ceiling fan.  Hear are the salient points to consider:

  1. Reliability and Warranty – A hotel ceiling fan is something you need to last for many years so look for a reputable reliable manufacturer who gives a minimum of 10 years guarantee.   That may sound a lot but it is indicative of the confidence a manufacturer has in his own products.   Most unbranded fans or those from the big DIY chains offer no more than 1-2 years and are for all intents and purposes junk and to be avoided.  To purchase such an item is a false economy as they are built of low quality cheap components that will fail very quickly necessitating an expensive repurchase and refitting exercise.   Better quality brands such as Fantasia offer a 2-5 year guarantee on most of their fans, Westinghouse are also 2-5 years.  The best warranties are from Hunter fans which come with a Lifetime Warranty,  or alternatively Fanaway and Star which are 10 years or Minka Aire which are 10 years and upwards.  A  Lifetime Warranty is obviously much better and worth paying a bit more for.  These are only offered by Hunter Fan and Minka Aire on their Artemis fans.  Hunter have been around 125 years and so likely to be around to honour their guarantee.
  2. Specifications & drop rods – How many fans do I need to cover my room?  This depends on the size and how good the performance is.  How high are my ceilings as a fan that is more than 0.5 m above head height is not going to be very effective so you will need a drop rod to bring it down to the correct height.  If your ceiling is low then you will need a flush mounted or low profile ceiling fan.  Do you want to use a pull chain or have a hand or wall remote control?  How many speeds do you need?  Do you want to have a fan that reverses so that in the winter so you can bring trapped heat down to floor level saving you money on heating bills?  Do you want to have a light with my fan, and if so one that can be switched at the wall? – meaning you will require a 4-core wire to be run from the fan to the wall control – adding to the installation costs as the plaster will need to be channeled out and replastered after running the wire.
  3. Performance – What power motor do you want?  And how many blades do you need?  There is a lot of misunderstanding on this point.  Less blades actually more move air per watt of power since there is less overall drag and so are more efficient but for a given speed more blades will move more air which means less noise.  In reality there is not much difference between 3, 4 or 5 blades so the choice should come down to appearance and style.  The bigger the motor power the more air will be moved.
  4. AC vs DC – Speed control on different powered motors is a complex subject.  The newer design DC motors are more efficient than their AC counterparts using less power per m3 of air moved.  However a 3 phase motor is more efficient than a single phase.  The claimed differences are much higher than the reality as you don’t get something for nothing and there can only be a certain amount of movement of air per watt of power expended even if the fan is 100% efficient, so the differences are small.  What you do find though is that DC fans are easier and cheaper to control (although cheaper ones will use a cheap coil which can be wasteful of energy and get hot) and so they typically have 6 speeds instead of 3 and can run at a much lower speed if so desired giving more flexibility.   However do you really need 6 speeds and if you wish to run a fan that slow then you are probably oversizing it so better to go for a smaller fan and run it at a higher more efficient speed.  The graphs below from fan controller manufacturers Control Resources show that a DC motor running with an AC to DC inverter to be the most efficient at all loads and approximately half the power of a single phase AC motor.  However since the overall power use is very small in comparison to air-conditioning and they are not on all the time this should not be an overiding criteria especially as the reliability is lower and choice of DC fans is more limited.
  5. Fan Motor Control Efficiencies

    Graph from Control Resources Inc

  6. Blade Size – The bigger the blade size the more air is moved and the more energy is consumed.  However a larger blade running at a lower speed is much quieter than a smaller blade running at a high speed.  Typical sizes are 42″ (107cm) and 52″ (132 cm) but for very small rooms you can get a 36″(92 cm) size.  Look at each manufacturer for the span of action of a fan so you can size up how many you need to cover a large rooms.  In small to medium sized rooms 1 properly sized fan should be sufficient.
  7. Speed – Most AC fans operate at 3 different speeds and some can run in reverse which is useful for winter use.  DC fans typically have 6 speeds due to the more controllable nature of DC.   Speed interacts with size and power (see previous point).  Speed can be controlled by either a gearbox (in rare situations) or more usually in AC motors by a tyristor/capacitor and microchip controller.  Here the use of cheap components can lead to annoying buzzes and premature failure of the fan motor.
  8. Noise – This is a very important one especially for hotels who wish to use fans in their bedrooms.  In such an environment the background noise will be very low and so any noise from the fan will be very annoying to the guests.  This can be either noise from the fan blades turning too quickly – giving a propeller effect – or from buzzes due to cheap internal components such as laminates or capacitors.  Another source of noise can be an unbalance or wobbling fan.   A good quality ceiling fan should be very quiet, not wobble and have no buzzes or hums.  It should simply gently stir the air at a low 60-200 rpm giving off about 25 db of noise. This will be considerably lower than an equivalent stand or desk fan which will be 50-100 times more noisy for a given volume of air movement.  The Dyson fans should be avoided due to their high pitched wining noise that comes from the very small fan blades inside it.
  9. Other Patented Features – Better manufacturers such as Hunter have many patented and useful features such as wooble-free canopy mounting systems, low energy motors, easy installation systems etc.  Preventing wobble is essential to reduce noise to a minimum which can be very annoying especially if the fan is going in a quiet room such as a bedroom.
  10. Build quality – Cheap manufacturers will use cheaper components that will fail much quicker often just outside the 1-year warranty period.  At the core of a ceiling fan is the motor – one moving part – so not much to go wrong?  Wrong!  A cheap speed control capacitor can easily fail after 18 months or sooner and can start buzzing long before it gives up.  Cheap motor laminates can buzz and fail and unless the copper windings are encased properly in resin can corrode and short leading to motor failure.  This is especially important in conservatories where the ambient temperature at night can fall below the dew point causing moisture to condense onto the motor which in turn will lead to corrosion and failure.  Blades should be made not from cheap card or hardboard but proper plywood to avoid twisting especially if any moisture is likely to be present.  Below is a typical ceiling fan motor cross section.  For further information please visit About Hunter.

Cross section of a ceiling fan motor

Style & Finish

Today there are so many styles and finishes to choose from there is something for everybody’s taste and to cater for every sort of room.  From traditional to contemporary, art nouveau to swish and stylish designs the ceiling fan can become a centre of focus for the room as well as providing the essential function of cooling.  A ceiling fan can introduce real interest into a room like the amazing award winning Artemis fan created by the famous lighting designer George Kovacs shown below.   From traditional to ultra modern to very unusual.  Contemporary finishes in black, graphite and brown are very popular especially for bar, restaurant and common areas.  You can either pick a fan that blends in seamlessly to the surrounding decor or else make a feature of it like the Artemis.  With literally dozens of different styles to chose from on the market today.  The World really is your oyster when it comes to choice and there is something to suite every interior designer’s tastes.  Just Hunter alone provides an amazing range with 45 different models in 8 different finishes!

Artemis Liquid Nickel Lounge

Price & Value For Money

We all love a bargain but honestly do not waste your money on a ceiling fan that isn’t going to last for a minimum of 10 years.  It is a false economy to go cheap since you will spend time and a lot more money getting an electrician to fix it when it goes wrong and having to replace it.  A £25 ceiling fan from B&Q really is a waste of money and is like buying cheap wine – you’ll live to regret it!  It is the total cost of ownership that is the crucial figure, ie the cost of purchase, installation and maintenance over the lifetime of the fan.   Since the part of what you pay that actually went to manufacturing the product itself will be less than £5 you will not get a lot of ceiling fan and certainly quality will be so low as to be meaningless.  It may last a year if you are lucky but will almost certainly start humming long before that due to the cheap components used (cheap capacitors, windings, laminates etc).   Fit and forget is the best policy so go for one of the reputable branded names such as Hunter, Minka Aire, Lucci (for ultra low energy DC fans) or Cassablanca.   Also ensure that they have the necessary range of accessories such as light kits (with the option of LED light bulbs for low energy consumption), remote and wall controls, drops rods (in the correct finishes), ceiling mounting kits and of course a reasonable range of spare parts just in case anything should break down.  To find out more go here.  Do ensure that the manufacturer or brand that you select provides you with the full technical information and details of features about their products.