Here’s What that Switch on Your Ceiling Fan Does (And Why You Should Use It)

At, we’re big proponents of ceiling fans. There’s simply no easier — or cheaper — way to instantly feel cooler. And while standing fans have their place, they simply can’t put out the amount of air that a solid ceiling fan can.

It’s no exaggeration to say that we sleep with the ceiling fan on every night.

And despite nearly every home having multiple fans — and many using them constantly — there is one feature that many people don’t know about their fan. It all involves that little switch located on the fan motor.

Not sure what we’re talking about? Check out the picture below to see what we mean:

Reverse switch on a ceiling fan

Any ceiling fan will have a switch like this one, located on the outside of the fan housing. If your fan is operated by remote, then there is likely a button that does the exact same thing.

So what does this switch do? And why is it so important?

The switch on your fan reverses the direction of rotation on your fan. So it can spin clockwise or counter clockwise. Why would you want to change the direction of your fan? It can do a lot to make you more comfortable in both the warm summer and the cool winter.

Why the Direction Of Your Fan Is Important

If you look at your fan, you’ll notice that the blades aren’t flat. In fact, they are angled with one edge hanging lower than the other. As the blades spin, the air and is pushed in the direction of the back edge of the blade. So if the fan spins so that the trailing edge of the blade is lower than the leading edge, the air is pushed down. If the trailing edge is higher than the leading edge, the air is pushed up.

Diagram of ceiling fan airflow

That’s where the switch and reversing the direction of blades can make a big difference.

In the summer you want the fan to turn so that the blade’s edge is pointed down, pushing air down below. This creates the classic breeze effect that makes you feel cooler..

But in the winter you want to turn the switch and have the fan run clockwise. This way instead of pushing air down, it pulls it up and pushes it against ceiling before it recirculates down the walls.

Of course, that begs the question of why you’d want to turn the fan on at all in the winter. Truth is, having a fan running in the winter can make a room feel more comfortable. Remember that cold air falls, so in the winter you likely have colder air toward the floor with warmer air closer to the ceiling. Keeping a fan running can help to keep this air mixed and likely mean you have to heat less to be comfortable.

One Note Before You Flip That Switch

Just one important thing before you flip that switch to reverse your fan’s direction. Make sure that the fan is stopped before you make the change. It’s possible to cause damage if you simply switch the direction while the fan is in use.


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