Lighting With Fans
Since most fans are located in the center of the room, lighted fans mostly provide ambient illumination.
Central Diffusing Light
A central diffusing light provides general diffused illumination. The bigger the diffuser, the softer the light. Look carefully at the number, type and wattage of the lamps; some fan lights do not provide as much light as a comparably sized decorative pendant.
The cluster consists of a fitter with a ring of lamps (4 is typical) a matching glass diffusers. Some styles combine a ring of lights with a center element or use curved arms like a chandelier.
A glass cluster may provide more light than a central element because it uses more lamps. It can however cause a glare. As with a chandelier, you should be careful to avoid too much brightness. Add a dimming control or 40 W lamps maximum. Clear glass elements may also cast shadows on the ceiling as the fan blades sweep over the lights.
If the fan is located in the center of the room, which is most common, using spotlights can create glare. Most people will have to sit or walk in the beam from the spotlights and is uncomfortable. Spotlights aimed straight down provide a distinct pool of light and is much more comfortable.
Uplight from the top of a fan creates pleasantly soft illumination. Uplights can be used alone or together with center lights or fitters (in some fans). If you want to increase the amount of illumination, an add-on uplight works better (because it is glare-free) than using higher wattage bulbs in a fitter.
When fan blades sweep through a beam of light, they "Chop it" creating a stroboscopic (flashing) effect which quite distracting. To avoid this problem, keep the distance from the edge of the blade sweep to the down light at least 1.5 times the suspension distance of the fan from the ceiling. (Example: If the fan is suspended 24" from the ceiling, a down light should be no closer than 36" to the edge of the blade.) Wall washers are generally unaffected.
As with lighting, convenient controls enhance the users’s satisfaction. Virtually all fans sold to residential users include a control, usually a pull chain. Where the fan has a multi-speed motor, the pull chain operates a sequential switch (1-2-3). Fans with lights need two types of control: one for the fan and one for the lights. A fan with an integral light will generally include two pull chains. A light kit should include a separate pull chain.
Wall box controls enable you to turn the fan on and off, adjust the speed from the doorway or other convenient location around the room. If you run separate wires for the fan and the lights, you can use separate controls for each. Otherwise, you need a special two-wire fan/light or "dual control". Fan controls are offered by both fan and controls manufacturers.
Quiet controls operate the fan at discrete speeds (3-speed or 4-speed). They may be fan-only or fan-light configurations. Variable speed controls adjust the fan to any speed within the motor’s RPM range but they are not as quiet.
Multiple Fan Controls
The typical control is rated for maximum load of 1.5 amps, which covers a single residential fan. To control several fans (in a large family room, for example) use a control rated for more than one fan or five or more amps.
Sometimes called "Dual Controls", they control fan speed and light intensity from a single device. Both two-wire (hot and neutral) and three-wire (two hots and a neutral) models are available. Two-wire dual controls use a special module (mounted in the fan’s canopy or switch up) which directs the control signal either to the fan or the lights. Two-wire controls are useful for retrofitting and existing lighting fixture. (Note that the ceiling outlet box must be rated for a ceiling fan. See the next section of this unit)