The success of ceiling fans owes a lot to people’s desire for comfort. Since the olden times when people only used simple fans made of materials like leaves, paper, or silk, we have wanted to keep our place at a comfortable temperature.

The modern day ceiling fans which started with Philip Diehl’s invention in 1882 are now a staple in homes everywhere in the world. Since then, the ceiling fan has evolved to include a lot of designs, both for practical and aesthetic purposes.

Ceiling fans are quintessential furniture at home. On hot days, it helps cool our rooms, and in the winter, it keeps our rooms warm. It is so innocuous that most probably don’t even think about how it works. Before you proceed to finding out how a fan works, here are the parts which make the fan work.

Parts of a Ceiling Fan

  1. How do ceiling fans work - parts of a ceiling fanAn electric motor to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy and differs on what type of ceiling fan you use.
  2. Blades also known as paddles or wings used to stir the air.
  3. Metal arms also called blade irons connects the motor to the blades, and also holds them.
  4. A flywheel is attached to the motor shaft and sometimes, the blade irons are also attached to it.
  5. Rotors are alternatives for blade irons.
  6. Different mechanisms used to mount the fan to the ceiling are the:
  • The ball-and-socket system has a metal or plastic hemisphere at the end of a downrod. The hemisphere is on a ceiling-mounted metal braked so the ceiling fan can move freely.
  • The J-hook or claw hook system has the ceiling fan hanging from the ceiling by attaching a metal hook to the ceiling. A rubber grommet can keep the fan from falling and lessens vibrations.
  • A low-ceiling adapter is a special kit purchased from the fan’s manufacturer so the downrod can be eliminated and typically used for rooms with low ceilings.
  • A “close-to-ceiling” mount is used for a ball-and-socket fan so the canopy can be directly to the ceiling mounting bracket.

Optional Parts of the Ceiling Fan

  1. how do ceiling fans work - downdraft and updraft explainedA downrod is a metal pipe used so the fan can safely suspend from the ceiling.
  2. A motor housing encases the motor.
  3. A switch cup or a switch housing conceals and protects various components like the wires, capacitors, switches. If the fan requires oiling, it is used for the oil reservoir which lubricates the bearings. The switch cup is also sometimes used to mount a light kit.
  4. Blade badges are attached to the visible underside of the blades to hide the screws which attach the blades to the blade irons.
  5. Assorted switches to turn the fan on and off, adjust the speed at which the blades rotate, change the direction in which the blades rotate, and operate any lamp
  6. Lamps
  • Uplights are mainly used for aesthetic purposes. They are installed on top of the fan’s motor housing and light the ceiling to create ambiance.
  • Downlights or “light kit”, add ambient light in a room and sometimes replace any ceiling-mounted lamps when its space was used for the ceiling fan
  • Decorative light bulbs mounted inside the motor housing – in this type of set-up, the motor housing has glass panel sections which allow light to shine though

How It Operates

how do ceiling fans work - forward for summer and reverse for winter directionCeiling fans have been around for so long that the way they are operated is based on its manufacturer, style and age.

When you turn on a fan, the electricity travels from the electrical wiring to your fan’s motor in turn, rotating the blades. The constant rotation improves the airflow in the room. Based on the settings, you can choose an updraft is created when the air moves forward, and a downdraft is created when air moves downward.

When your ceiling fan comes with a light, there are two cords to use – one for the fan itself, and the other for the light. When the cord for the light is pulled, the electricity travels in much the same way as it does when you turn on the fan. Of course, other than cords, you can also use wall switches instead.

If you stand under a fan, you feel as if the air is becoming cooler when what it actually does is lowering your body’s temperature. The reason for the cooling sensation is the downdraft of air is helping your sweat to evaporate quicker.

Ceiling fans work by rotating the blades in a ‘reverse’ counter-clockwise motion to help produce a comfortable breeze or ‘windchill’ to cool the skin during the hot weather. Ceiling fans do not actually cool the room, but the ceiling fan rotation allows improved air circulation.

During the winter, ceiling fans help to warm the room by moving warm air trapped on the ceiling by the blades rotating in a clockwise motion. This movement will push up the air and pull the warm trapped air down the sides of the room improving heat distribution. To have a ceiling fan with the reverse rotation features is a huge advantage over the normal one-direction ceiling fans.

To keep your fan working its best and for a long time, it should be well-maintained. The fan blades should be kept clean from mites, dust and detritus. It is fairly easy to keep your fan clean using a cloth and some dusting spray, and to do it every week or every other week. Ensure that all bolts and screws are tight since these tend to loosen up after a time. Finally, make sure to lubricate the ceiling fan annually so all parts will still work like new.

Check your ceiling fan when it’s making 3 sounds that may indicate fan failure: squeaking which may be because of a couple of loose screws, clicking may mean the bearing has gone bad and needs to be replaced, a wah-wah noise means the ceiling fan has finally come to the end of its mechanical life.

A ceiling fan cools you for a much lesser cost than an air conditioner. Because a ceiling fan actually cools your body by lowering your body temperature, then it is best to turn it off when the room is unused to save energy and on electricity costs.