Choosing Wet vs. Damp Rated Outdoor Ceiling Fans

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Published: 19th February 2013
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When Spring brings in the warm weather, and the summer comes nearer, many people will put an outdoor ceiling fan on their list as one of their home improvement projects. However, when those same people go to shop for their new ceiling fan they may become confused on which kind to purchase. They will find many name brands such as Casablanca Ceiling Fans, Craftmade, Hunter, Gulf-Coast, and Ellington Fans. Within those brands they will find different types of fans, the standard indoor models, and outdoor ceiling fans. Then again, within the outdoor rated versions the shopper will find two additional ratings which are Wet Rated and Damp Rated. Which one should they choose? Within this article I hope to clear this up for everyone so the weekend home improvement warrior will be educated before tackling their project.

When shopping for a new outdoor ceiling fan consider the outside location where you will be installing it. If you have a screened porch, covered patio or deck you can use either a damp rated or a wet rated ceiling fan, both will work in this case. Even though all you will really need for your conditions is damp rated fan, a wet rated fan is sealed a little more, so just because a fan box says for wet locations itís not going to go bad because your locations is only considered damp due to humidity. So if you are the one that falls into this category, any fan with an outdoor rating will be good. You may ask, ďWhatís the difference in the two?Ē In the next few paragraphs youíll have learned the answer.

A Damp Rated ceiling fan will typically have special finishes on the metal parts to resist corrosion. The blades are usually made of plastic to help resist against warping or sagging from humidity that causes the blades to get damp. A better type of plastic blades that is usually found on higher end fans such as Gulf Coast Ceiling Fans will be ABS plastic. ABS sounds like the Anti-Lock Breaks on a car, but in this case it stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which is a special plastic that is designed to withstand high heat. So whereas standard plastic blades can withstand moisture, there is a possibility that they can still sag over time due to heat, whereas a ceiling fan with ABS plastic blades should not warp, ever!

Today, some of the advantages of using Damp Rated outdoor ceiling fans in locations where you do not need a Wet Rated fan is the beauty of treated and sealed, hand-carved wood blades. Some of todays better manufacturers have found a way to make blades out of solid furniture-grade wood, then treat and seal them from any chance of moisture damage for a stunning addition in style to the outdoor fan. One such fan is the 58Ē 100 Series Raindance manufactured by Gulf-Coast. Other companies have followed but Gulf-Coast started this trend and are still the best at it. You will only find these type of hand-carved outdoor blades on high-end ceiling fans because the blades are heavier and oversized, requiring a more powerful high-performance motor to turn them properly for adequate airflow. Putting them on a smaller motor like some manufacturers use will give poor air circulation plus put too much strain on the motor, causing the fanís life to be shortened significantly.

If you are planning to install your new fan in an area exposed to direct contact from rain and other weather conditions, such under a pergola, this is when you need to only shop for Wet Rated outdoor ceiling fans, as a Damp Rated fan cannot hold up in these conditions. A Wet Rated fanís motor is sealed which will not allow moister to penetrate into its electrical windings. Also, the other areas where moisture could possibly enter, such as around the pull chain switch and reverse switch are sealed off by a weather resistant rubber shield, keeping water out of the other electrical components of the fan. A good motor housing will be made of galvanized steel and it will use all stainless steel hardware. Its blades will be made of the same ABS plastic used on the Damp Rated ceiling fans. Unfortunately solid-carved wood blades, even if sealed and treated, are not an option for a fan like this because direct rainfall will eventually ruin the seal wooden blades use for protection. Once the seal is gone the blades will start to rot, so when shopping for fans for a wet location make sure the blades are made of ABS plastic. The only other blade option for a wet location fan Iíve found is an aluminum blade frame with a canvas material for the bladeís surface. These will hold up well but will not last as long as the ABS blades, however if your fan is a name brand fan you should be able to buy the canvas for replacements should they ever need to be replaced. Currently Palm Fan Store sells the canvas replacements for their Nautical Ceiling Fan online at for $35 per set, so the canvas doesnít seem to be a major expense.

My last bit of advice would be to check out the fanís Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM) rating before buying. Fans only cool by creating the wind chill effect. The higher the CFM rating, the more wind chill effect you will get and for hot days you will need a lot to do good. I would suggest trying to find a fan with a minimum of 6,000 CFMs for outdoor use, unless you are in an area where the temperature rarely gets out of the 70ís, then a less powerful fan may be okay for you.

Now that you are armed with information about the differences of Wet vs. Damp ceiling fans, the next step is to find a style that you like. That I cannot help you as much with that as it seems everyone has different tastes. I wish you luck in finding the perfect outdoor ceiling fan.

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