Most ceiling fans come with a down rod but you can also change them. Why is this and what down rod length is best for your situation? Here’s what you want to know.
The down rod of a ceiling fan should be the correct length so the fan blades hang at least 7’ but preferably 8’-9’ from the floor while also having at least 8”-12” clearance above the blades. This ensures optimal safety and efficiency.
For a more in depth explanation of why the correct length down rod is important and how you can find the correct length for your situation, keep reading down below.
Which Length Down Rod Do You Need?
In case you don’t know, the down rod is the metal tube that goes down from the ceiling mounting point to the blade assembly. This can be of different lengths and usually they are replaceable so you can adjust the length to have the blades spin at the correct height.
Which length you need thus depends on the ceiling height. The bottom of the fan blades should be at least 7’ from the floor for safety purposes but 8’ to 9’ is optimal. This means you’ll have to measure how high your ceilings are. If you’ve already installed the ceiling fan, you can also measure the height to the blades to make sure you actually have to change it.
To figure out which length rod you actually need, here is the simple formula: Ceiling height -9’ = down rod length.
The mounting hardware and blade assembly will add some extra length to the down rod which means that by using the formula above, the blades will be somewhere between 8’ and 9’ depending on the specific model. This is exactly where you want them to be. If you want the fan to be at 9’, take about 4” off the down rod length.
|Ceiling Height||Down rod length||Notes|
|7’||Don’t use a ceiling fan|
|8’||0”||Only use low profile/hugger fans without down rod|
|9’||8”-12”||Fan blades about 8’ from floor.|
|10’||8”-12”||Fan blades about 9’ from floor|
In the chart above you can see the recommendations. If you’ve got higher ceilings, I’m sure it’s pretty easy to work out from there. Of course every model of ceiling fan is slightly different so at what height the lowest point of the fan hangs can be different between models with the same length down rod. As long as you end up with the bottom of the blades around 8’-9’ you’re OK. Of course you could choose to use a different height for aesthetic reasons but be aware you could impact safety or efficiency if you choose to do so.
TIP: Not all down rods fit on all ceiling fans. It’s best to buy a replacement from the same brand as the fan. And sometimes it’s even possible the same brand has different types of down rod so make sure you’ve got the right one. If you know the brand and model of your ceiling fan, this gets a lot easier. Otherwise you’ll have to disassemble the fan and see exactly what your current down rod looks like.
Why Does Down Rod Length Matter For Ceiling Fans?
So why is the length of the down rod so important? Why not mount it with the rod the fan came with and call it a day?
For most situations, that will likely work since ceiling fans are usually made for the ‘average’ situation. So if your situation is normal, it will likely work. However, there are some important things that are impacted by down rod length and since it really doesn’t take long to figure out the length you need, it’s worth doing.
There are a few things that are impacted by down rod length;
The most important role of down rod length is safety. A ceiling fan has relatively sharp blades spinning quickly above your head. Or what should be above your head. You really don’t want there to be a chance that you could get your head, body parts or other things caught in the spinning blades. This can do quite a bit of damage. And even if you think you’ll be careful, people forget things and guests might not be aware of the danger at all.
That’s why in building codes around the US, you can find that the bottom of the ceiling fan blades should be at a minimum of 7’ (213.4 cm) above the floor. This is the minimum height. 8’-9’ is a much better height. 7’ is still easily reachable if you lift up your hands for most people. Do you stretch when getting out of bed or when getting off the sofa? In that case there is still a good chance 7’ is too low.
At 9’ there is little chance you’ll get anything caught in the spinning blades so you don’t have to worry about it. Of course you’ll still have to be a little mindful with brooms, mop handles and other long things.
Who’s going to check this if you mount the ceiling fan yourself? Probably nobody (unless you’re selling the place) but you still don’t want the chance of potential bodily or material harm done by a ceiling fan so it would be wise to follow the recommended heights.
So why not put the blades as close as possible to the ceiling? Wouldn’t that be the safest? Yes it would but now you start losing efficiency.
A spinning fan moves air from above the blades and pushes it down. This creates a low pressure area above the blades. This has to be replenished from the sides. The closer the blades are to the ceiling, the smaller the gap and the harder it becomes to refill the low pressure area. This means the fan has less air to ‘grab’ and push down. To move the same amount of air (as with a lower mounted fan), you’ll have to turn up the speed which means more power and a decrease in efficiency.
Eight inches is the minimum amount of clearance between the ceiling and top of the blades while more than 12” doesn’t have a major effect for average sized fans. That’s why you see 8”-12” down rod recommendations, even on a lower ceiling. Very large fans (72”+) can sometimes benefit from a little more clearance.
The airflow will feel a bit different depending on the height you mount the fan. The closer the fan is to you, the more direct airflow you’ll feel. The further away it is the calmer/slower it will feel but spread out over a larger area. Again, the 8’-9’ height is a good compromise for most people. But if you don’t need much direct cooling but like more air circulation, you could go a bit higher.
However, if that comes at the expense of the 12” clearance between the blades and the ceiling, you’ll be hurting circulation so you’re better off with the normal mounting height.
The down rod is also a tool to make sure the fan clears everything in the room. If you’ve got a vaulted roof, a long down rod is necessary to make sure the fan actually fits. However, it can also be used to let a fan clear a large wardrobe or other furniture.
If you have to sacrifice either clearance from the floor or from the ceiling to get the correct clearance, sacrifice the clearance from blades to ceiling. Safety should be the first concern. A trip to the hospital would cost way more than the bit of electricity from lost efficiency anyways.