Summer is a’ coming and ceiling fans are a time-tested green technology that can stand-in for air conditioning at a fraction of the installed and operating costs, or significantly reduce operating cost to achieve a given ‘wind chill’ comfort level for those who have already installed A/C.
Replacing the ceiling fan your dad put up?
Some things have changed.
Pull-chain controls remain a classic and inexpensive option, but many people will expect more.
- New technology allows individual fan speed and dimming control from any existing switch location.
- Add-on remotes can provide the same controls from anywhere within 30′ of the fan/light being controlled.
- Some available add-on remotes even provide automated thermostatic control, turning the fan on and off based on a user-set temperature like an HVAC thermostat.
Dimming for the lighting component of a ceiling fan has new pit-falls relating to use with CFL and LED lamps.
- Existing dimmers may burn themselves out in a shorter lifetime, burn out the costlier lamps.
- Dimmers may not work properly at all, when connected in the circuit with CFL and LED lamps.
- Failure modes range from the simple elimination of dimming range with the new lamps (you have to use the dimmer at full brightness) to lamp failure or dimmer failure in a matter of days, or intolerable flicker. If your fixture has multiple lampholders and you don’t want to address these problems directly, yet, try installing a single old-fashioned incandescent along with the high-efficiency lamp. If you are purchasing new controls or a fan packaged with a control module, verify that it is approved for use with CFL and other high-efficiency lamp types, or that a compatible dimmable high-efficiency lamp will be available. Typically, on/off controls that have no dimming function will be a safe bet for all lamp types, while dimming controls may work satisfactorily with dimmable CFL’s or LED’s, whether the control is ‘CFL-rated’ or not (read reviews online).
What should I buy?
I recently answered this question basically, for no-frills ceiling fan/light kits to be installed on new, un-switched circuits I will be running where the customer is renting and on a tight budget set by the landlord. The availability of remote control modules compatible with almost all fan types means that I can save the customer the cost of retrofitting a switch circuit into a wall that is remote from the power source and cable/circuit path to the ceiling fan. Here is what I said on fan/light and remote controls selection:
For the fans, I recommend something like:
Model # YG268-BN
Internet # 202191192
Note that all drop-tube mounted fans may also mount semi-snug with no drop tube at all, by screwing the cowling on top of the fan to the canopy at the ceiling box. I prefer the drop-tube type fan because of this flexibility AND because the drop-tube hanger bracket inside the decorative ceiling canopy creates a nice holder for remote control receiver units, and its presence guarantees that I can fit the receiver into the canopy, whereas some snug-mount fans sold with no drop-tube option may not be compatible with 3rd-party remote receivers.
Remote Control Modules
Model # T2&R1
Store SKU # 191691
Please pick up a 9V battery for each remote, if one is, typically, not included. Note that this particular remote will not function properly with CFL lamps (possibly not even with expensive and so-called ‘dimmable’ CFL lamps). It may work with new high-efficiency dimmable LED lamps, such as the $10 Utilitech Pro model from Lowe’s I have reviewed at: http://www.phillylicensedelectrician.com/have-led-lamps-come-of-age/. I have a remote dimming module that only works if at least 1 of the 3 lamps installed is a standard incandescent. It seems the LED lamps by themselves are so efficient that some older dimmer modules don’t properly recognize their presence in the circuit. Unfortunately, it seems like Lowe’s ceiling fan prices are 10-20% higher than Home Depot’s, and Home Depot doesn’t sell an inexpensive LED lamp.
If you are set on using CFL’s and/or don’t trust that compatible dimmable LED’s are going to turn up sooner than later, then an on/off only (non-dimming) remote is your best choice.
Model # 27157
Internet # 202072711
Store SKU # 967846
Note, though, that reviews posted on the Home Depot website suggest there may be issues with this particular example of a CFL-compatible, non-dimming on/off dimmer. You can go the other way on price and spend ~$50/remote for dimming remotes that claim compatibility with CFL’s.
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- Phila area rife with building efficiency upgrade opportunities Philadelphia Inquirer article discusses recent study showing Philadelphia’s inner-ring suburbs stand to save from energy conservation retrofits.
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- The Circuit Detective – Solve Home Electrical Problems Yourself! Electrical troubleshooting procedures pitched to homeowners.
- The Energy Co-op Blog from a leading alternative energy provider in PECO territory, includes fun conservation tips.
- Weatherization: the anti-Solyndra Salon.com article praising the continued success of the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), low-income energy-savings and job-creation.
- West Philly Tool Library Official site of WPTL, Philly’s own community tool lending library: like a book library, but tools!
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- Philly Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Schedule City of Philadelphia dates and places for disposing of spent batteries, CFL lamps, unused paint and cleaning products, etc. LovePhilly: don’t pour these in the drain or send them out with the trash.
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