The running cost of ceiling fans

The Australian summer can be unforgiving, and for those of us without an air conditioner, a ceiling fan is probably the next best thing. While ceiling fans might not be as effective at cooling as an air conditioner, it does cost considerably less to use.  So how cheap is it to use a ceiling fan? Canstar Blue has done some research and crunched the numbers to find the real cost of using a fan.

How much does it cost to run a ceiling fan?

The average indoor ceiling fan costs around 0.13c to 1.29c per hour to run, or between $1.90 and $18.86 each year. This will depend on the fan’s speed settings, how frequently it’s used, and the rate you pay on electricity. Like most electrical appliances, a ceiling fan’s power is measured in watts. The larger the fan, or the faster it needs to spin, the more watts of electricity it consumes – adding to your energy bill.

The below table assumes a standard 52” blade, 5-speed fan with a maximum output of 45W. We also suppose an electricity usage rate of 28.7c/kwh.

Ceiling fan running costs

Fan Speed Power Hourly running cost Annual running cost*
1 (low) 4.5W 0.13c $1.90
2 (low-med) 9.1W 0.26c $3.80
3 (medium) 18.6W 0.53c $7.79
4 (med-high) 35.4W 1.02c $14.83
5 (high) 45W 1.29c $18.86

*Assuming ceiling fan used 4 hours per day, 365 days a year.

As you can see from the table, a single fan is not particularly expensive – particularly when used in moderation and operated at low speeds. That said, the costs can quickly add up if you have multiple fans running, or if they are left on when no one is using them.

Take the extreme example of a high speed (5) fan left on for 24 hours. At a rate of 28.7c/kWh, that will cost you 31c/day or as much as $113/year per fan. Bear in mind that many homes will have several fans – usually one in each room – so you can see how costs might quickly stack.

What type of ceiling fan is the cheapest to run?

The maximum wattage of ceiling fan will vary anywhere from 10W to 100W. The average fan will consume around 30W to 50W. More powerful ‘high-speed’ fans will generally consume between 60W and 100W, costing as much as 2.87c per hour or $42 per year, again assuming it’s used every day for four hours.

Interestingly, the fan’s size has very little to do with its running cost. While larger fans might require more electricity to spin, smaller fans will need to work harder in order to create the same airflow output. This means that both small and large fans consume approximately the same amount of electricity.

Ceiling fan running costs compared to air con

As we have shown, even the most power-guzzling ceiling fans out there will only cost a few cents per hour to run. As for air conditioners, Canstar Blue found that the average reverse cycle system costs between $0.33 and $0.40 per hour – many times more expensive than a ceiling fan.

An air conditioner is unquestionably more effective at cooling a room than a ceiling fan, but it’s also much more expensive. Aside from those occasional scorching days, try to use your ceiling fan instead of the air conditioner wherever possible. This could potentially shave hundreds of dollars off your annual electricity costs.

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