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Ceiling Fan Controversy

Post in 'The Gear' started by stick burner, Dec 13, 2007.

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  1. stick burner

    stick burner New Member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Carlsbad, New Mexico
    Thought I heard on the Weather Channel the other day to "put your ceiling fan in the CLOCKWISE position" in the winter. Huh??? A few days later I heard them say the same thing again. At this point I knew I hadn't drank too much Crown. I have always heard that you REVERSE your fan in the winter. So I started thinking about this (which could be a bad thing). I did a research on the web and came up with conflicting theories. Some say run your fan on reverse in the winter, some say don't reverse it. All had their own theories. This is my conclusion. It depends on what you are wanting to do. For instance, my stove at my cabin is located in a large den with a cathedral ceiling peaking at 13 ft, then sloping down. The dinning area, kitchen and one of the bedrooms and baths are adjacent to the den an I have an 8-9 ft. opening going from the den to this section of the cabin. If I put the ceiling fan (in the den) in the reverse mode, it blows the hot heated air off the ceiling in an umbrella effect and into the other section of the cabin and heats all the top floor beautifully. Now...there is a pellet stove in the dinning area which is just a few feet (3) from the opening going into the den. If I'm lazy and don't want to make a fire in the stove in the den, and use the pellet stove, and the fan (in the den) is running in the reverse mode, it creates an "air wall" and doesn't let the heat from the pellet stove into it. The den is where I am most of the time when I'm not cooking something. If I want to let the pellet stove heat into the den, I never run the fan in reverse...never thought about trying it in the normal (clockwise mode) till now.

    So here's my thinking. If you have a ceiling fan in the room your stove is in, put it in the reverse mode (counter clockwise). That way it will shoot the heat "out" of the room to other areas. However, if you have a ceiling fan or two in other rooms, you might consider putting them in the summer time (clock wise) mode. This way, you don't create an air wall against the heat trying to get into the room since most of the hot air is at the top of the ceiling trying to get in and the air curtain created in the reverse mode is the strongest at the upper part of the ceiling and walls. In the clockwise mode, the fan should draw the air off the ceiling, shout it down towards the floor and "mix" the air in the room. The air curtain at the upper levels of the room is eliminated. Then there's the "wind chill" factor. If your fan is right over your bed and your fan is in the clock wise mode, you will feel cooler even though the over all room is warmer. Geez, my brain is frying. Guess I'll depart and let you guys think about this and how to handle it. What do I know...I'm just a 250lb. bar-b-que cook and my wife doesn't listen to me anymore.


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  2. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

    May 8, 2007
    Peru, MA
    Clockwise,,,counter clockwise...lets call it blowing up or blowing down...I get them mixed up too easily.

    I have always understood that you run your ceiling fans blowing down in the summer to provide maximum clloing (more air washing over the people in the room) and blowing up in the winter (to push the heat across the ceiling and down the walls and to keep the air from washing over the people, thus cooling them down).

    I have a catherdral ceiling in my great room and have a pair of fans over the living room, about halfway up to the peak, stove is at the rear of the room. I find that if I run the rear fan blowing down that it blows air almost directly over the stove and running the front fan up will create enough turbulence across the top of the catherdral to bring some of that air down to where the people might make better use of it. Have to borrow an IR temp sensor to find out, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find the inside of the peak to be in the 90 degree range or higher while the living room is in the 70's.
  3. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

    Apr 19, 2007
    Central Massachusetts
    Another benefit of running your fan on reverse in the winter is that you bring the cool air to the warm air (on reverse, the cooler air that has settled on the floor is pulled to the ceiling), thus displacing the warm air at the ceiling. I have found, too, that this "airwash" theory can work in reverse if you have terribly drafty windows, because as the air washes over the walls, it picks up the cold air coming in through the windows and a perimeter of about 3 ft around the room gets mighty chilly.

    In the summer, the windchill effect (fan on normal, or "down" mode) is the most powerful... even though the air is warm, when it blows against your skin, you feel cool.

    All in all, though, in my experience, it's reverse in the winter and normal in the summer.
  4. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

    Nov 19, 2005
    IMHO, from an air mixing point, it hardly makes a difference. The room is relatively small and the fan is moving a decent amount of air, it's kind of like running a kitchen blender - does it make a difference if you smoothie goes down in the center and up the walls of the blender or down the walls and up the center - nope, you still have the same blended smoothie in the end.

    From a comfort standpoint, in the winter, you might find it a little less drafty to have the fan pulling air up, pushing it across the ceiling and down at the edges of the room as opposed to blowing air straight down in the center of the room. Likewise in the summer, you may feel a little cooler with the air blowing directly on you as opposed to diffusing out across the ceiling.

    As an owner of a house with all flat and even ceilings, I leave my ceiling fans off and let the hot air flow out along the ceiling to the other parts of the house - sometimes with the aid of a small fan setting on the mantle. If I turn on a ceiling fan, it disrupts this flow and insures that specific room will be hot, but no air can flow to the rest of the house.
  5. rhetoric

    rhetoric Member

    Oct 12, 2006
    Western NY
    Just perform an experiment.

    Step #1
    Have your wife stand under the fan w/ it blowing down and ask her how she feels. This will annoy your wife. Even if the air blowing is warmer she will be cold from the direct draft.

    Step #2
    Shut off your fan and let all the warm air collect on the ceiling. This will annoy your wife. She will be cold (unless she is a gecko and walks on the ceiling).

    Step #3
    Have your wife stand by the wall and turn on the fan blowing UP. This will annoy your wife until the warm air that has been pooled up on the ceiling washes over her. The draft will be far more dispersed (coming down all the walls of the room, not just in one place) and she will feel heat, not breeze. Your wife will be hot and that's the way you want your wife. Ahem.

    I also run the fan blowing up because it sends the warmest air out the hallways into the other parts of the house which need it more than the room with the stove. Cold air returns to the stove via the floor which is why laying in front of the stove is always a mixed bag. You feel the radiant heat on one side and the cool breeze coming to the stove on the other. That's why we have wing-back chairs. Colonial persons kept building fireplaces bigger and bigger thinking, "It's cold. If we build a bigger fireplace and have bigger fires we'll be warm." Of course, that just created bigger drafts which made sitting in front of the fire fine as long as you were right in front of the fire and had big high-back chairs keeping the breeze off of you.

    We have a ceiling fan in our bedroom that does nothing in the summertime because it's not over the bed. Too narrow a stream to enjoy the direct cooling effect of evaporation.
  6. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

    Jan 30, 2006
    Far Northern Calif. Coast
    I'm also in the "doesn't matter" camp.

    Consumer Reports found that if you're in the room, running the fan in either direction will make you colder due to windchill.

    I get the temp in the LR up to about 76, then turn on the fan so that the wall fan can grab some warm air for the rest of the house. Even if the fan makes me a little cooler, it's OK 'cause it's 76 in there.

    Finally, when up high decorating the Christmas tree, I was surprised to find a clear stratification of the heat even though the ceiling fan was on (low).
  7. dtabor

    dtabor New Member

    Feb 8, 2007
    Lake Elmore, VT
    I had been running my fan in reverse too as that is what I had heard but Im finding better heating by leaving the ceiling fan off and then I have a couple smaller fans circulating the air around moving cooler air from one end of the house to the stove room and vice versa on the other side.
  8. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

    Sep 4, 2006
    Waxhaw, NC... Formerly North shore Mass
    Agree with ya...
    also to be noted is what good is it to blow air down to the center of the room and have it run along the floor only to be blocked by the furniture that we all have placed against the walls ;-)
    It is more important to control the speed of the fan rather than the direction.
    slow in winter and faster in the summer..
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