7 Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Ceiling Fans

The function of indoor and outdoor fans is similar, which is to generate air and freshen the surrounding in an area and cool the people in that area. This function should be served in different environments, however, because of the differences between both types.

Here is a list of 7 critical differences between indoor and outdoor ceiling fans:

  1. Outdoor ceiling fans are made to fight the elements.
  2. Outdoor ceiling fans need more power than indoor units.
  3. Indoor and outdoor ceiling fans are designed with different materials.
  4. Ceiling fan ratings are different for indoor and outdoor units.
  5. Blade designs differ in outdoor and indoor fans.
  6. Outdoor ceiling fans are stronger as compared to indoor ceiling fans.
  7. Indoor ceiling fans can gather dust.

A ceiling fan can be installed in an indoor room or an outdoor sitting area and it is a great addition. Understanding the differences between indoor and outdoor fans will allow you to make the ideal decision to choose the right unit for your home or business area. Go through their differences below.

1. Outdoor Ceiling Fans Are Made To Fight the Elements

What makes outdoor ceiling fans unique from indoor ceiling fans is that they are manufactured to withstand the elements. The wind and water resistance of outdoor fans can be different depending on the quality of materials and the intent of the brand used.

Outdoor fans must be suspended from a ceiling, but it does not give the green signal to put them at risk. Wind can blow the rain into the covered areas and other reasons including plumbing or leaks in the roof may cause the water to access the ceiling fan even if it is secured by an awning or patio cover.

That is the reason, outdoor ceiling fans are specifically constructed to survive harsh climate conditions. The materials they are using make it less likely to rust and feature insulation to save the electrical parts.

Outdoor ceiling fans are available in two types: damp- and wet-rated. You may be looking for a wet-rated outdoor ceiling fan for an area not concealed from heavy rain and snow. A damp-rated outdoor ceiling fan is more compatible with a roof roofed outdoor area that avoids heavy downpours.

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2. Outdoor Ceiling Fans Need More Power Than Indoor Units

In short, ceiling fans do not consume too much power as compared to other climate control options including central heating and air systems, fans only consume a fraction of the electric supply. That is the reason they are economically as well as environmentally alternatives to air conditioners.

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However, outdoor ceiling fans should circulate more air as compared to indoor fans to get the same output. That is why outdoor ceiling fans need more powerful motors to operate in order to move more air and cool the outdoor space.

The electricity for an average indoor ceiling fan is only about 10 to 50 watts per hour. However, outdoor ceiling fans use 75 watts per hour because of their massive power and size, especially their sizes.

3. Indoor and Outdoor Ceiling Fans are Designed with Different Materials

Outdoor ceiling fans are made to survive outdoor environment. Even if they are used under the shelter of a protected sitting area, outdoor fans should be able to fight at least wind and rain. A ceiling fan that doesn’t withstand these elements can be harmful, the danger of putting the house at risk of electrical issues.

To reduce the risk, the manufacturers of fans design the fans with more elemental resistance materials. It means blades are made from metal and insulate the electricity box in the mount to prevent water exposure.

Two most highly recommended materials for outdoor ceiling fans:

  • Aluminum. When it comes to outdoor ceiling fans, Aluminum is a popular material for them. Aluminum alloys don’t have iron, which means aluminum fans do not get rusty. Another benefit of using aluminum is that it needs little to no maintenance, making it attractive to most customers.
  • Stainless Steel. Similar to Aluminum, outdoor ceiling fans are designed with stainless steel and which is another commonly used material for them. Stainless steel has the capacity to remain attractive and water-resistant. However, it needs more regular upkeep as compared to aluminum to prevent “tea-stains” or blemishes on the surface of the blades.

4. Ceiling Fan Ratings are Different for Indoor and Outdoor Units

As I discussed earlier, there are two types of outdoor ceiling fans. When it comes to finding an outdoor fan, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether it should be wet-rated or damp-rated. Your choice is entirely based on what you need the outdoor ceiling fan for. As for outdoor fans, all of them are dry-rated because they are not manufactured to fight the elements or get wet.

Below, I am going to discuss the differences between the ratings and what they’re good for.

Wet-Rated Fans Can Be installed in Harsh Weather

Wet-rated ceiling fans simply mean that they can handle severe water exposure. Waterproof fans are ideal when they are used in a place where they are exposed to the elements on a regular basis as electrical shorts and rust can deteriorate the fan and can be hazardous for residents.

It depends on the quality and brand of the fan, the cost may be between $300-$2000 for a wet-rated outdoor ceiling fan.

There is a great thing about wet-rated ceiling fans that is, you can clean them with ease using a spray bottle of water or a garden hose. With the addition of simple maintenance, it has become a popular choice for outdoor ceiling fans.

Damp-Rated Fans Can Only Bear Drizzle

A damp rating is the category of a ceiling fan that is water-resistant, not waterproof. Damp-rated ceiling fans can be used in outdoor sitting areas, if they have appropriate protection against water exposure.

The fan will withstand a little amount of rain but not direct contact with a garden hose. If you are in a dry climate and the ceiling fan is secured by the covering of the seating area, damp-rated ceiling fans will be useful. However, a lot of users still make a mistake when it comes to the side of safety by using a wet-rated fan instead of a damp rated.

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Dry-Rated Fans Are Only Designed for Indoor Use

You might think that can you use an indoor fan outdoors too, but it will put your ceiling fan at risk of getting damaged. The reason is that they are not made for outdoor use. They cannot perform well in high moisture spaces and will spoil if exposed to downpours or drizzle.

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5. Blade Designs Differ in Outdoor and Indoor Fans

Even though the purpose of them is the same, indoor and outdoor fans are equipped with different design elements to get the job done.

The regulations around RPM are related to the size of the blade and it has to deliver a larger amount of air at a consistent speed, outdoor ceiling fans are meant to depend on their motor as well as the blade.

That is why the blades of outdoor fans are mostly shaped and directed differently as compared to indoor ceiling fans.

Blade Shape

Outdoor fans are meant to provide a much larger airflow as compared to indoor ceiling fans. To get the job done in the most energy-efficient way possible, a lot of outdoor fans offer broad blades designed to deliver maximum airflow whenever it spins.

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Outdoor fans have the edge of a larger area, enabling them to get larger fan blades. It is one of the important factors for an effective outdoor fan, as larger blades have the capacity to push more air. However, larger blades are heavier in weight and need more energy to function, allowing them to move air but resulting in less energy efficiency.

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Another feature between indoor and outdoor ceiling fans is the angle or pitch at which the blade is set. The setting of outdoor fans’ blades is at a more dramatic pitch, resulting in more violent air circulation. It is perfect to create large amounts of air in the surroundings, as is required in an outside setting.

However, the blades of indoor fans are usually used as a more mild pitch, as they must deliver a breeze in a room without making a wind tunnel.

6. Outdoor Ceiling Fans Are Stronger as Compared to Indoor Ceiling Fans

Federal laws impose the maximum limit of RPMs allowed for a ceiling fan. The regulation is dictated keeping in view the safety to restrict blades to work at dangerous speeds in case of an accident.

The RPM limit of a unit depends on the thickness of the blade. A thinner blade at high speed can be more damaging than a thicker or heavier one. That is why more powerful motors must be associated with thick blades.

As outdoor fans need stronger motors, the blades should be blunted/thicker as compared to weaker indoor fan motors.

7. Indoor Ceiling Fans Can Gather Dust

Mostly indoor fans are rated dry, they cannot resist water as well as they are not waterproof, it is difficult to clean them as compared to wet-rated fans. Indoor dry-rated fans gather more dust on top of the unit which can result in symptoms of allergy. Use a sponge or a damp rag to clean them on a regular basis.

Outdoor fans are prone to dust and dirt and they can be dirtier than indoor ceiling fans. however, they get clean on their own by raining and it is easier to clean them. It will not cause any allergy symptoms too as they are installed in an open area.

Can I Use an Indoor Ceiling Fan Outside?

Indoor ceiling fans are dry-rated which is why you should not use them outside, they are built to serve indoors rather than outdoors. Moisture and rain can damage these fans with ease. Indoor fans are smaller in size which is why they are not as efficient as outdoor fans, therefore, they cannot circulate air effectively in outdoor spaces.

Ideal Mounting Height for Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans regardless of outdoor or indoor should be installed at least 10-12 inches (30.5–45.7 cm) from the ceiling. Some models like flush mount fans can be mounted closer, and will not be less than 7–8 inches (17.8–20.3 cm) from the ceiling.

All ceiling fans must be 24 inches (61 cm) between the tip of the blade and the neared wall and must be over 84 inches (213.4 cm) above the floor. If a room does not fulfill these requirements, it’s not safe to install a ceiling fan there.

These regulations and guidelines are applicable to both indoor and outdoor ceiling fans. While outdoor units contain more space laterally or distance between them and the nearest wall, some are installed on lower hanging ceilings as compared to indoor fans. This may call for a flush mount fan, providing more vertical space and avoiding the risk of taller individuals getting hit by the spinning blades.

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How To Install an Outdoor Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans will be an ideal choice for a covered seating area. On summer evenings, enjoying the cool air by using one command is an ideal situation. To get the optimum cooling effect of an outdoor fan, follow the steps and precautions below when it comes to installing an outdoor fan.

1. Get Professional Help for the Installation 

If you are not familiar or experienced enough to perform your own electrical work, it is a wise decision to get a professional to do the job. Ceiling fans, need more effort to install and they are hung from the ceiling, so, it is better to get a certified man for it.

Before starting any electrical work, the first thing to do is to cut the power to the area you’re working on.

2. Mount the Bracket

If you’re going to add the fan on a pre-existing ceiling instead of installing a fan to a room you’re building, get a specifically marked “old work” bracket. To increase the fan’s life, the ceiling and whoever will remain underneath them, it is ideal to use the right bracket. Secure the bracket to the ceiling. You need to ensure that a strong beam supports the box as well as the bracket.

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3. Attach the Fan

After fixing the bracket securely in its place, the next step is to attach the fan. It is easier to attach the body of the fan separately and after that, attach the blades. A fan with blades fixed in it, specifically the large one, metal units, can be heavy and it is hard to install them after assembling them entirely.

4. Test the Fan Before You Leave It

Before you call it a day and put away the tools:

  1. Switch on the power to the fan and check your fan if it works.
  2. Use all the settings and see if there are any signs of instability or an electrical issue.
  3. Turn off the power and try to fix it, or get professional help if you notice anything weird in the fan’s movement or function but you have no idea what is the issue.

Modern ceiling fans are not very difficult to install, they can be installed by most laymen by themselves. A lot of customers reported that outdoor ceiling fans require less than an hour to complete the installation, on average. After adding the fan if you are confident that it is stabilized and safe, you can enjoy its breeze.

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