Google the words “ceiling fan fails” and you will have several hours’ worth of viewing time on YouTube® watching people accidentally (or intentionally) getting harmed by whirling ceiling fan blades. Far less hilarious is the very real problem of improper ceiling fan installation.
We see bad ceiling fan installations everywhere — from the series of wobbly ceiling fans in a restaurant to the squeaks emanating from a ceiling fan at a church or at a friend’s house. While observing badly installed fans may make us cringe, there didn’t seem to be much the industry could do to curb the pervasive problem of faulty installation.
Worst of all, lighting retailers have been beleaguered by ceiling fan returns from customers claiming the products either didn’t work or were “broken.” In the spring, I spoke with Susan Irie of Kilohana Lighting in Hawaii, who has become increasingly frustrated with this dilemma in her showroom. “Roughly 90 percent of the time, there is nothing wrong with the fan,” she told me. “Once it is returned to the store as ‘defective,’ I can’t sell that ceiling fan again, even though there’s nothing wrong with it.” Instead, it’s either sent back to the manufacturer to dispose of or it goes to the local landfill.
Tired of the waste, Irie teamed up with Nathan Frampton of Fanimation® and John Moody at Kichler® plus a few other passionate lighting veterans, to address the problem. In collaboration with the ALA, they have formed a Ceiling Fan Education Task Force to develop an educational curriculum for a certified ceiling fan installation program. They’ve now been working together for roughly one year writing a comprehensive manual and planning courses designed to educate the lighting showroom sales force as well as electricians and contractors about installation, energy efficiency, the latest in electronics and motors, plus “smart” controls.
“Regarding our Fan Education & Certification Committee, we had a great meeting at June Lightovation,” Irie reports. “We will be meeting again at the ALA Conference in Vancouver and plan to have drafts of all of the material, which will then be edited and revised by Lightovation in January.”
What this hard-working crew really needs, however, is more participation from distributors, installers, and reps. In order to benefit all categories in our industry, there needs to be greater input from those who will be utilizing the program. If this ceiling fan education series for showroom associates or certified installation program for the contractors/electricians you work with will help you in any way, please consider providing input to this ALA committee. They want to tailor the program to fit the industry’s needs and the best way for them to do that is to hear from you.