What uses more electricity: oscillating or ceiling fans?

ceiling fan image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com

In a world of diminishing energy supplies, where every nation has to do its bit to be responsible to the world community, many people are trying to be conscientious about their own energy use. However, everyone wants to be at a comfortable temperature in their own homes and while at work. Combining one’s own sense of comfort with a sense of duty to the global community is a laudable aim.


An oscillating fan is one that stands on a floor or table, having a rotating blade that drives air across a room with a cooling effect. Ceiling fans typically have oscillating motion too but they have paddles and are mounted on the ceiling to drive air downwards. All fans are actually heaters too, according to energy efficiency expert Rik DeGunther, as they use power to work, generating heat which they give off. A fan can actually make a room warmer, if it is not set up properly.

Typical ratings

According to Alternative Energy Store (altE), a typical power rating for a ceiling fan is 10 to 50 Watts, whereas the typical range for a table fan is 10 to 25 Watts. This might be construed as an indication that ceiling fans tend to use more electricity. However, the extent of altE University's sample size is quite small. A ceiling fan with a small power rating will use less electricity than a table fan with a large power rating, all else being equal.

Electricity meter

The best way to discover how much electricity an appliance is using, is with an electricity meter or monitor. These handy little gizmos give much more precise information about how much electricity is actually being used by specific appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, radios, microwave ovens and even automatic frozen yogurt-ice cream and sorbet makers. You plug the device into a socket and it starts to display information immediately.

European Energy Label

In a bid to make it easier for Europeans consumers to choose household electrical appliances which are more energy efficient, the EC introduced The European Energy Label. You can find this on many electrical appliances for sale nowadays, giving information about their energy consumption. Fans are not yet covered by the legislation but it is likely they soon will be,at time of publication, according to the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers (CECED)

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