Ceiling Fan Direction

February 4th, 2010

Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to add comfort to your home throughout the year. By operating ceiling fans properly you can cool off or warm up your home and save money at the same time by cutting down the use of air conditioning and heating units.

Ceiling Fan Direction in Summer – Foward / Counter Clockwise

ceiling fan direction for summer

image via Emerson

On hot sticky summer days nothing can beat the breeze you feel from a ceiling fan. (Trust me I should know I live in Florida) A ceiling fan’s direction in the summer should be rotating counter clockwise or forward to produce a Wind Chill effect by the downward airflow. The thermostat won’t actually change but the room will seem several degrees cooler due to the wind chill factor. You can save on air conditioning bills by placing ceiling fans throughout your home.  According to Casablanca Fan Company when you are using a ceiling fan you can then “raise the thermostat setting, resulting in reduced air conditioning energy consumption of 40% or more” while still keeping your room cool.

Ceiling Fan Direction in Winter – Reverse / Clockwise

ceiling fan direction for Winter

image via Emerson

Ceiling fans are commonly linked with warm weather therefore many people don’t realize that ceiling fans can also help warm up a room in the winter months. The ceiling fan direction in winter should be rotating clockwise or reverse. Warm air rises and gets trapped near the ceiling so when the ceiling fan direction is in reverse mode it circulates the warm air from the ceiling to the floor helping take the chill out of the air. Without a ceiling Fan the warm air would continue to be trapped near the ceiling and the floor level would continue to stay cold. The reverse mode only works if the fan is on low. If you have the fan on a higher speed you will create a wind chill effect that you don’t want since it is already cold. Some ceiling fans now come with a wall or remote control that has a forward/reverse option so you can change the direction of the Fan with a push of a button.

Exceptions for Ceiling Fan Directions

There are some exceptions that you should keep in mind when it comes to ceiling fan direction.  If your ceiling fan is installed in a room with a high ceiling you still put the ceiling fan direction on clockwise or reverse motion in the winter although you should put the speed on medium or high. With higher ceilings it takes more than low speed to help re-circulate the warm air down to floor level.

Also if you have a ceiling fan directly over a dining room table or a desk you should have the ceiling fan direction rotating clockwise/reverse on a higher speed. By having the ceiling fan direction in reverse on a higher speed you will still get the wind chill effect that helps cool you off but will save you from a cold dinner or papers flying all over the place.

I hope this information helps you add comfort to you home year round. Don’t forget ceiling fans are a great way to help save money on utility bills without suffering in the Summer & Winter months.  Check out Energy Star’s Ceiling Fan Usage Tips on how to help save energy with ceiling fans.

34 Responses to “Ceiling Fan Direction”

  1. Ed says:

    Porch area is 20′ x 35′…Ceiling is metal roof 13 1/2 ‘ high sloping to 12′…open on all sides. Are celing fans going to provide any air movement are should I be looking for a floor fan or mister?


  2. melissa says:

    Hi Ed,

    If you hang two 52″- 54″ blade span ceiling fans at 11 1/4′ evenly spaced with 2′ downrods and a CFM (product airflow- cubic feet per minute) rating of at least 6000+ you will receive excellent airflow in your patio. Since it is an opened patio you should also make sure that you get a UL Wet Rated ceiling fan which will endure the outdoor elements. I recommend a ceiling fan like the Casablanca Lanai. The Lanai comes in many finishes and can come with or without a light kit.

    Click here to view other outdoor ceiling fans.

  3. Laurie says:

    Our house is open concept 3 level plan, and at most times of the year it is 2-3 degrees cooler upstairs (bedroom) than down (family room). We want to install a large 54″ fan on the upstairs hall ceiling, which is open to all three floors, and wonder which way to have the fan blowing in order to help better equalize the temperature. We do close lower vents in the summer and upper vents in the winter.
    Thanks for your help!

  4. melissa says:

    Hi Laurie,

    To better equalize the temperature of your home the fan would have to be pushing air down so it would need to be rotating counter clockwise/forward. I would also recommend finding a ceiling fan with a reverse from control feature. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Thank you!

  5. Elissa says:

    If our airconditioner ducts are at the top of the wall facing the fan hanging from the ceiling, which way should the fan turn (when looking up at the blades)? Does the fan help bring that cooled air down, or am I better off with the windchill effect?

    Thank you

  6. melissa says:

    Hi Elissa,

    The ceiling fan should still rotate counter clockwise in the warmer months. A ceiling fan rotating counter clockwise will push the cool air down and will also create a windchill effect as well.

  7. Lou says:

    We are having a discussion in regards to leaving ceiling fans on continuously throughout the year in a church with 30′ ceilings, 75′ X 48′ area to save energy then turning them off and on when they use this area for a couple of hours. Is there any benefit to leaving them on vs. turning them off after each function? The area is used everyday for a function.

  8. melissa says:

    Hi Lou,

    Ceiling fans should always be turned off when a room is empty. There is no benefit by leaving a ceiling fan on when no one is in the room. It is just a waist of energy and money. Ceiling fans do not cool a room they cool People by creating a Wind chill effect. The circulating air accelerates the evaporation of perspiration on your skin, making you feel cooler. The actual temperature in the room will not change, but you will feel 6-8 degrees cooler. And in the winter if you reverse the direction of the ceiling fans it will push the warmer air trapped near the ceiling down to floor level.

  9. Bill says:

    I recommend cleaning dirty fan blades of hair, thick dust, etc. prior to changing the direction. Otherwise you could end up with quite a mess on your hands.(And your head.)

  10. melissa says:

    Good point Bill. :) Before reversing your ceiling fans it is always a good idea to make sure you clean them first.

  11. Mark says:

    Thanks very much for this website. My wife has had a hard time believing ceiling fans are worthwhile running at all in the wintertime. I’ll slip this site into “favorites” so she’ll see it, before frost hits the pumpkin again.

  12. melissa says:

    Thank you Mark, When I first heard about reversing the fan in the wintertime I didn’t believe it would work also but since I tried it I do it every winter now. :) Let me know if you have any other questions.


  13. I am a strong believer in ceiling fans…I have used them
    for years….and find them very effective.
    Your website in very informative. I had to confirm the
    direction of my fan by using your website.

  14. Lali says:

    Very informative. I love it. I used this website to proof that what direction should ceiling fans rotate during Summer and Winter time ane it helped me big time.
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  15. Harris House says:

    Hello! We just moved into a new house today, and it’s hot! We are in Texas and it’s summer time. Googled ceiling fan direction and your site came up- we reversed all the directions on all the fans and it’s a lot cooler now!

    Great resource when it’s midnight in a new house and sweltering!

  16. melissa says:

    We’re glad we could help! :)


  17. jeannette says:

    I am confused by the direction picture. It show fan direction going both ways. What direction should the fan be set at in summer for the best energy efficiency?

  18. melissa says:

    Hi Jeannette,

    The ceiling fan should be rotating Foward / Counter Clockwise.

  19. Arlie says:

    Is the direction of the fan determined when looking up at the fan or as if I were looking down from the ceiling??

  20. Terri says:

    Ok. I am still confused. My fan has a wall plate remote, and when I have it going forward, the blades are rotating clockwise. The blade position is higher on the left side of the blade, and lower on the right, moving clockwise. Is this correct for the summer, or do I need to put it in reverse, which would rotate the blades counterclockwise?

  21. melissa says:

    Hi Terry,

    The best way to determine if your ceiling fan is rotating in the correct direction is to stand under the fan and if you feel a cool breeze them it is rotating in the correct direction for the Summer. If you feel a cool breeze then the fan is pushing the air down which is the proper Summer mode for your specific fan.

    Another trick sent in by one of our readers is to spray lysol or some form of spray under the fan and if the spray goes straight down then the fan is in Summer mode but if the spray just hangs there then the fan is in Winter mode.

    I hope this helps solve your problem. Please let me know if you have any further questions.


  22. melissa says:

    Hi Arlie,

    The direction of the fan is determined by standing under the fan and looking up at the rotating blades.

  23. Annie says:

    Do some fans circulate the air the same on either summer or winter setting? When I stand under our fan (or spray lysol on either setting) I can feel the air and the spray come directly down at me in the same way.

  24. Melissa O'Connor says:

    If the ceiling fan has a reverse/forward setting then the ceiling fan should circulate air depending on the setting. The forward/Summer setting should circulate air downward and the reverse/winter setting should circulate air upwards towards the ceiling then out and down. If this is not the case contact the manufacturer because there may be a problem with the ceiling fan.

  25. Mike Donoan says:

    We have a Caslabanca ceiling fan with a remote.
    The remote has a ruberized finishe that quite frankly is nasty- any suggestiona about what can we use to clean it?

  26. Melissa O'Connor says:

    Hello Mike, I talked to someone in customer service with Casablanca and they would only recommend wiping down the controls with a damp cloth and warm water. They suggested perhaps using a little rubbing alcohol on the buttons to break down any built up on the control. I hope this helps!

  27. Gretchen says:

    We have an open concept 3 story house with a ceiling fan at the center over the stairwell. In the summer, it’s very cool in the basement, and stuffy upstairs in the loft bedroom. Which way should the fan be set?

  28. Kevin says:


    I have a question about the fan I have. It does not seem to produce much air flow no matter what direction the motor runs in. I do not remember the brand, but the fan was rather inexpensive. I have been around Hunter fans, that produce good air flow. Does brand really matter? Second, the fan is installed in a vaulted ceiling similar to this one. Could this be making a difference? I did the spray test, and while the mist comes down, the airflow is not very noticeable.



  29. Lynne says:

    Do the same principles for ceiling fan direction also apply to high angled ceilings?

  30. karen says:

    i have 18 foot ceiling with a fan on the lower level in the middle of the room. i also have three other fans upstairs in bedrooms. since its so hot in the summer and hot air rises, what is recommended to pull the hot air from upstairs to the downstairs, and what is recommended to not push the hot air upstairs from the downstairs fan.

  31. Jenelle Ricci says:

    Hello Karen, typically during the winter you would set your ceiling fan so the blades turn forward in a clockwise motion. This will push up the air and pull the warm trapped air down from the ceiling. During the summer, you fan blades should rotate in a reverse counter-clockwise motion. This will produce a comfortable breeze that cools the skin. You could try setting the downstairs fan to have the blades rotate clockwise to push hot air down, and the cool air up.

  32. Jenelle Ricci says:

    Hello Lynne, yes… you will want to have your fan blades rotating counter-clockwise in the summer to create a breeze, and clockwise in the winter to pull the hot air from the ceiling down towards the ground. Typically in the winter, you would have your fan in reverse on a low setting so you do not create a wind chill effect. If your ceiling is really high, you can still put your fan in a reverse mode, but you should operate it on a medium or high speed. With higher ceilings it takes more than a low speed to help re-circulate the warm air down to the floor level.

  33. Jenelle Ricci says:

    Hello Gretchen, if you set your blades to rotate in a clockwise (reverse) motion, that should take the hot air from your upstairs loft and push it towards the ground floor while pulling the cool air up.

  34. Jenelle Ricci says:

    Hello Kevin, there are a lot of things that could contribute to the air flow that you get in a room. First, you need to know that you have the correct size fan for your room size. I am not sure what size room you are working with, but your fan could be too small for the room and you may need something larger, or even two fans… depending on room size. During the summer, you want the blades to rotate in a counter-clockwise motion to create a breeze in the room. If you are looking for a good amount of air circulation when you purchase you next ceiling fan, make sure you look at the CFM. This is the airflow that the ceiling fan will produce which is measured in cubic feet per minute. Check out these links on Ceiling Fan Size and Ceiling Fan Ratings. The ceiling fan size charts will help you pick out a fan that will fit your room size. Towards the bottom of the ceiling fan ratings page, there is an airflow rating section that will give you the optimum CFM you should look for depending on which size fan you choose.