In the hot summer months, a ceiling fan can be critical. It can help circulate air and even lower electricity bills — but is it a design no-no?
“Most designers want the fan to come down and a light fixture to go up,” says designer Kristie Kyle of Design Elements Group in Dallas. “I prefer it, too, but I have to work with them. Sometimes they are a necessary evil. Luckily, there are plenty of options to pair with personal taste and preferences.”
Despite some designer misgivings, Leslie Killingsworth, Director/Purchasing for Progressive Lighting stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, says ceiling fan sales are not slowing down. Like Kyle, Killingsworth believes recent design trends have helped homeowners incorporate fans into their décor, rather than lament their existence.
“Fans are a great alternative to regular lighting, and they have become much more stylish,” Killingsworth explains. “The updated designer finishes we’re seeing mimic those happening right now in home lighting; warm brass accents, gold and silver trim, gray-toned woods, mixed metals, and black.”
“Black is extremely hot right now,” notes Fanimation’s VP/Sales & Marketing Kristina Christopher, who agrees that metal finishes in galvanized and “greige” are popular along with the look of weathered wood blades.
According to a recent survey published by Southern Living, ceiling fans with a more industrial or streamlined stainless steel look are becoming more desirable. Still, white fans remain the top sellers because of their inconspicuous appearance against white ceilings.
“Make it decorative, make it attractive… or make it disappear,” Kyle says.
Fanimation’s fans are designed to encompass disparate tastes. “Over the last few years, we have evolved our line to include styles that are simple and meant to become invisible, as well as offer impeccable designs that can be the focal point, centerpiece, or the crown jewel of any space,” Christopher remarks.
There are three key style trends that Fanimation executives have observed
a mix of Modern Farmhouse & Industrial design
Renewing the old days of Antique and Polished Brass by infusing Brushed Gold finishes and Schoolhouse-shaped glass
Simple, sleek, and low profile
Another new trend, Killingsworth shares, is the double ceiling fan — two motors and two sets of blades attached to one mount. The style works well for large spaces and often has a contemporary look and shape. Fandeliers (ceiling fans that have a decorative, chandelier component for dual function) have appeared from multiple manufacturers as well, and now make up a good segment of the marketplace. They are a great choice for dining rooms and more formal spaces.
“You get the best of both worlds,” quips Tonya Friga, Outside Sales Buyer for Metro Electric Supply, which operates several showrooms in the St. Louis area. “A fandelier is like decorative lighting that helps cool you off.”
The elegant simplicity that is so popular in today’s lighting styles has also led the way to more versatile applications. As consumers continue to bring indoor living to the outdoors, designer touches such as ceiling fans will see a rise in interest. Many conventional paddle fans that were previously available only for interiors now have outdoor-rated counterparts with waterproof blades and sealed motors.
“Our outdoor fans are becoming a very high-performing category,” remarks Rob Godlewski, VP/Business of Emerson Ceiling Fans. “People want the right ambiance and temperature while relaxing outside. We’re heavily involved in market research to continue support of this popular lifestyle.”
Ceiling fans have also increased in size over the last few years. The standard size used to be 52 inches, but the “Big Ass Fan” phenomenon changed everything. Now, there are fans for residential applications with blade spans that reach 96 inches.
“I think customers have the perception that bigger is better,” says Brad Dobson, Showroom Manager of Hermitage Lighting Gallery in Nashville. “Even the consumers who want their fans to blend in are asking for larger models.”
They also want them to be smarter. Climate control is one of the most popular attributes in today’s connected living spaces and thermostats aren’t the only products in the house working to keep the temperature in check. Ceiling fans do, too, but while they obviously don’t offer whole-home heating and cooling, they do offer room-specific cooling at a fraction of the cost.
“Smart devices were some of the most popular gifts in 2017,” says Shelley Wald, President of WAC Lighting and Modern Forms. “With that kind of excitement in the marketplace, we saw a real opportunity to create smart ceiling fans that coordinate with popular systems such as, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, and ecobee.”
Wald explains each Modern Forms smart ceiling fan is powered with a RF-controlled DC motor, which is reportedly 70 percent more efficient than an AC-powered fan.
“The definition of luxury is changing,” Wald says. “It’s all about making life simpler and more efficient, connected yet personalized.”
For higher-level functionality, consumers can program up to four smart ceiling fans on a single RF wall control with the company’s proprietary app; however the fans also work with voice-activated personal assistants. To offer assurance that users’ privacy will be respected in a world of cloud connectivity, Wald states the smart ceiling fans leave the control up the individual. “If you want to use the app features, you only need to connect to the cloud once during setup,” she explains. “After that, you can disconnect forever.”
In addition to smart technology, Fanimation’s team monitors changing energy-efficiency codes.
“We are always working towards bringing the most efficient products we can to our customers, as well as working towards updating our existing line to be in compliance with CFM and the lumens-per-watt minimum efficacy requirements the DOE has introduced that will go into effect January 21, 2020,” Christopher states.
Once considered the white elephants of home décor, ceiling fans are experiencing a renaissance. From new finishes and designs to larger blades and adaptability, today’s models match practicality with style and versatility.