Can Outdoor Ceiling Fans Be Exposed To Rain? Fan Ratings

Outdoor ceiling fans are essential appliances for your home’s exterior. They facilitate air circulation and cooling and enhance your outdoor experience. When buying an outdoor ceiling fan, it’s crucial to consider if it can handle extreme weather conditions.

Only wet-rated outdoor ceiling fans can be exposed to rain. These outdoor ceiling fans contain sealed components; thus, they withstand direct exposure to intense weather elements. In contrast, you can’t expose damp-rated fans to direct rainfall.

Many people think that wet-rated ceiling fans are suitable for all areas and last longer than damp-rated fans. However, it’s not always the case. Read on to learn more about fan ratings.

What Are Fan Ratings?

Ceiling fans are essential home appliances, especially if you live in a hot or humid area. They’ll keep you cool on blazing hot summer days or nights. Ceiling fans come in handy for outdoor spaces as they help cool the air and enhance your outdoor experience.

Fan ratings determine the ideal purpose and location for installing your fan. When buying any ceiling fan, you’ll notice that it has a specific Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating. For instance, some ceiling fans are best suited for interiors, while others are perfect for exteriors. 

Now, let’s look at different ceiling fan ratings:

Dry Rating

Dry rating is for ceiling fans designed for indoor locations only. Hence, you can’t install these fans outdoors as they can’t withstand extreme weather elements. Ceiling fans with a dry rating are best suited for living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, foyers, and furnished basements.

Wet Rating

The rating is for outdoor ceiling fans that can withstand extreme weather elements, including rainfall, snow, sunlight, and ice. They can also bear salty ocean breezes. Therefore, you can install them in verandas, gazebos, pergolas, exposed decks, and lanai.

Damp Rating

You’ll find this rating on outdoor ceiling fans that can withstand dampness and heat. However, you can’t expose these fans to direct rainfall. Therefore, they’re ideal for covered outdoor places to cool air and facilitate air circulation. You can install these fans in bathrooms, kitchens, screened porches, covered patios, and carports.

Comparison Between Wet-Rated and Damp-Rated Outdoor Ceiling Fans

outdoor wet rated ceiling fan in patio

As mentioned earlier, an outdoor ceiling fan with a wet rating can withstand extreme weather elements while one with a damp rating can’t. So, what are the similarities and differences between these two types of outdoor ceiling fans?

Similarities Between Wet-Rated and Damp-Rated Fans

Here’s a list of similarities between a wet-rated and damp-rated fans:

  • These outdoor ceiling fans are both suited for outdoor locations.
  • They can withstand dampness (moisture) and heat.
  • They can also work perfectly indoors.

Difference Between Wet-Rated and Damp-Rated Fans

Here’s the difference between a wet-rated and damp-rated fans:

Wet-Rated Fans 

Wet-rated fans are ideal for uncovered exteriors. Their designs incorporate sealed components to keep off water. For instance, a wet-rated outdoor fan may have a rubber shield that covers its switch. Others contain silicone around the motor to protect the wiring from water. You’ll also find that most wet-rated fans have ABS plastic blades that bear extreme weather conditions.

Damp-Rated Fans 

Damp-rated fans are ideal for covered outdoor locations. Despite handling moisture and heat, they shouldn’t be exposed to direct rainfall. You’ll find a wider variety of damp-rated fan styles than wet-rated fans.

For instance, some have wooden blades while others have plastic ones. Hence, if you’re looking for a luxurious look for your covered exteriors, you may go for one with high-quality hand-carved wooden blades.

Suggested: Can you use an indoor ceiling fan for a covered patio?

Factors That Determine the Type of Outdoor Fan You Need

It’s not always easy to shop for an ideal high-quality and top-performing outdoor ceiling fan. You may be tempted to think that a wet-rated outdoor ceiling fan will be perfect for all your outdoor spaces. However, it’s not always the case. Various factors will determine the type of ceiling fan your exterior needs.

These factors include:


If you require a fan that can handle harsh weather conditions, you should purchase a wet-rated one. With such, you won’t have to worry about any defects when you expose it to direct rainfall, sunlight, snow, or ice.

However, if you only need one to cool the air and withstand moisture and heat, a damp-rated ceiling fan would be ideal. Moreover, damp-rated fans come in handy if you want your covered porch or sealed patio to have an elegant look.


Where you want to install your outdoor fan will also determine the type of fan you need. Therefore, if your exterior is an open (uncovered) space, a wet-rated ceiling fan is the best choice.

Wet-rated outdoor ceiling fans are also ideal for locations near the ocean as they can withstand salty breezes. However, if your outdoor space has a roof, you should go for a damp-rated ceiling fan. Apart from bearing normal humidity and heat, they can also withstand the dampness caused by storms.

The location may also be either residential or industrial. Hence, if you need one for your home, your preference, comfort, and style should be the determining factors. However, for industrial spaces, you should consider a fan’s performance and energy consumption.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a fan’s efficiency is the amount of air a fan moves, divided by its operation cost. Hence, apart from location and purpose, you may want to consider how efficient your outdoor fan is before purchasing it.

The following criteria determine a ceiling fan’s efficiency:

  • Airflow (flow rate) – It’s the most effective criterion of rating a fan’s efficiency. You can measure the flow rate to determine how your fan facilitates ventilation and air circulation in cubic feet per minute (CFM).
  • Wind speed – It also helps in measuring a fan’s airflow and determining where you should install it. For instance, if your ceiling fan has a high wind speed, you shouldn’t have it directly overhead a working space.
  • Wattage It measures how much electricity your fan is consuming. Watts are units of power that tell us how much an electrical product converts or transfers energy at a given time. Hence, consider an outdoor fan that doesn’t use too much power as it’ll have low airflow efficiency.
  • Motor rating A fan’s motor is its engine; thus, it’s the most vital component. The motor determines how your fan operates and the amount of airflow it produces. Ceiling fan motors fall into two main groups. They can either be in Direct Current or Alternating Current categories.
  • Motor quality – For an outdoor space, you should go for a high-quality and best-performing motor. Therefore, you should consider factors such as power, size, and quality when shopping for a motor. Can you replace a ceiling fan motor?

Size and Style

The size of your outdoor space will also determine the fan size. Moreover, ceiling fan sizes depend on their diameters. Hence, a large area requires a large-sized fan for maximum efficiency and vice versa.

For instance, a 200 square feet (18.58 sq. m) patio area will require a fan with a 52 inches (132.08 cm) diameter.

Apart from size, you can select a fan according to your preferred style. Fans have a vast array of design styles to suit various tastes. The common ones include modern, industrial, traditional, rustic, contemporary, and farmhouse.

Can You Use Outdoor Ceiling Fans for Your Indoor Spaces?

You can definitely use outdoor ceiling fans for your indoor spaces. If you prefer uniformity, you can use outdoor ceiling fans (either damp-rated or wet-rated) for your indoor and outdoor spaces. 

Apart from withstanding moisture and humidity, outdoor overhead fans have almost all other qualities of indoor fans. These include light fixtures and reverse settings for winter and summer use.

However, damp-rated outdoor ceiling fans are best suited for locations near oceans due to humidity. Moreover, you could use it in indoor areas prone to dampness, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas.

Due to their ability to withstand environmental elements, outdoor ceiling fans are more durable than indoor fans. Hence, you’ll save money for repairs or replacements by using them in rooms or spaces that are exposed to moisture.

Can You Use Indoor Ceiling Fans for Your Outdoor Spaces?

While the reverse is true, you can’t use an indoor ceiling fan outdoors (whether the space is covered or not). As mentioned earlier, indoor ceiling fans have a dry UL rating. Therefore, they can’t withstand any exposure to moisture or extreme weather conditions.

Using an indoor ceiling fan outside can also be hazardous. Hence, exposing your indoor fan to extreme weather elements could lead to accidents or damages such as:

  • Burning Since an indoor ceiling fan can’t handle exposure to dampness, any contact with water or moisture will cause short-circuiting. Hence, your fan may burn and cause an electrical fire that could damage your ceiling or the outlets.
  • Rusting Exposing your indoor fan to moisture or salty breezes from the ocean contributes to rusting. Most indoor fans have lustrous finishing that may rust, fade, or tarnish when they contact moisture or salty air.
  • Melting Some indoor fans have plastic blades and other components. Thus, exposure to extremely high temperatures could result in warping or melting. When your fan’s blades warp or melt, the airflow efficiency decreases. Hence, it’ll start wobbling or produce queer sounds, resulting in low performance.
Sagging blades on an indoor ceiling fan exposed to moisture

Do Outdoor Fans Get Wet?

Outdoor fans can get wet when exposed to moisture. Damp-rated ceiling fans can withstand slight wetness such as mist, dew, or condensation on their exterior components. However, only wet-rated outdoor ceiling fans will handle direct exposure to moderate and heavy rainfall.

Suggested: Can outdoor ceiling fans be exposed to rain?

Do You Need a Downrod for Your Outdoor Ceiling Fan?

Outdoor ceiling fans require downrods to secure them from being blown around by severe winds. The type of downrod you’ll mount for your fan depends on its type and finishing. You also need to measure the height of your ceiling to determine how long the downrod will be.

How To Secure and Take Care of Your Outdoor Ceiling Fan

You don’t want to incur unnecessary costs when replacing your outdoor ceiling fans now and then. Therefore, you need to ensure that the fan is well secured and maintained for maximum efficiency and durability.

Here are a few tips on how to secure your outdoor ceiling fan:

  • Use a downrod. When mounting your fan, use a downrod especially if you live in an area frequented by strong winds. Also, check the downrod rating and length before purchasing. However, you wouldn’t need a downrod if your ceiling is 8 feet (2.44 m) and below.
  • Firmly secure fan screws. Most ceiling fan dealers offer installation services. However, if you’re doing it yourself, always ensure that you have firmly secured the fan’s screws to prevent any wobbling. Loose blades will reduce your fan’s performance.

Now, let’s look at some maintenance tips for your outdoor ceiling fan:

  • Cleaning Like any other home appliance, your ceiling fan needs regular cleaning. You can do this once per year by using a brush, a cloth, and soapy water (after switching it off). Always ensure that the fan is dry before you switch it on again.
  • Protection from rusting Outdoor ceiling fans are prone to rusting due to their exposure to moisture. Hence, apply some carnauba wax to prevent rusting. A stainless steel wet-rated outdoor fan like the Donnaire Coastal BB-52 Outdoor Fan (available on Amazon) has a high rust resistance even against salty ocean breezes and sea spray.
  • Lubrication A ceiling fan can diminish in performance with time. Therefore, it’s preferable to lubricate it often to enhance its functionality. You can use sewing machine oil or any other light lubricant and fill it in the upper side of the fan’s motor.
  • Fastening Some components of your ceiling fan may become loose after some time. For instance, the fan may start having some vibrations if some screws are loose or missing. If this happens, inspect your ceiling fan and tighten any unfixed screws using a screwdriver.
  • Monitoring movements Have you noticed any unusual movements on your fan? You should monitor your fan regularly to detect any wobbling movement. This can happen if the blades are warped or bent.


A fan’s rating determines its purpose and installation location. Therefore, only a wet-rated outdoor ceiling fan can be exposed to direct rain as it can withstand extreme weather elements.



Matt moved to a location where the climate is hot and humid year round 8 years ago and got a bit obsessed with ceiling fans as an alternative or supplement to air-conditioning. He just wants the optimal ceiling fan and to get it to work the best for the specific situation. And now you can follow what he learned on

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