Quick, look up. Is there a fan above you? How many blades does it have?
Most likely, the answer is three, four, or five – which means it’s probably doing a not-so-great job of keeping you cool.
Surprisingly, most ceiling fans are very badly designed for their purpose.
Since no fan can actually reduce the temperature of the air, what you’re trying to achieve is a wind chill effect. In other words, the fan should move a large amount of air around, effectively lifting the cool air from the very bottom of the room and cycling it through the space.
When a fan with only a few blades tries to do this, it’s like trying to move a longboat with only two oars. Even if the fan’s motor is pushing its maximum speed, those blades can only move so much air, and they certainly can’t do it quietly. The result is a fan that barely stands a chance against the heavy, hot air that’s pervasive in the summer in Texas.
Okay, you’re thinking, I know how much I depend on air conditioning, thank you very much. What’s your point?
There IS one kind of ceiling fan that’s perfectly designed to conquer that oppressive heat: the windmill fan. These fans are so efficient that they can reduce your A/C bill (yes, really).
The design is borrowed from – you guessed it – a farm windmill. Distributing the workload across 15, 16, or even 18 blades, a windmill fan can knead large volumes of air, all the way down to the floor of a space, no matter how high the ceiling is.
Compared to a standard ceiling fan, a windmill fan rotates very slowly (and, as a result, quietly).
We learned all this from the owner of an awesome Texas family business called The Windmill Ceiling Fan Company. They got their start when Kelly Eggers and her husband Phil moved into their dream home, which happened to be a barndominium. With 16-foot vaulted ceilings in their living space, the temperature near the top could easily get up to 100 degrees, and nothing seemed to cut through that stifling heat trapped up there.
That is, until Kelly looked at a windmill and realized: That thing could be horizontal, and hanging from my ceiling.
…and the rest is history.
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