How closely have you looked at your ceiling fan? And how much have you experimented with the remote? We’re asking the question because plenty of tradies will tell you a feature of ceiling fans that an alarming number of people have no idea about – the fact that the ceiling fan direction can be reversed.

So before we do anything else, let’s answer the 2 really big questions:

1. What is the correct direction of fan in summer?

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2. What is the correct direction of fan in winter?


Why would winter fan direction even matter?

But why would anyone want their ceiling fan to spin in a particular direction rather than the other? After all, don’t those blades spin simply to create airflow that moves across our skin to evaporate moisture and make us feel cooler?

What is ceiling fan winter mode, anyway?

Well, that’s actually what we call ceiling fan summer mode. So what’s ceiling fan winter mode, you might already be asking? Predictably, that’s when the ceiling blade rotates in the opposite direction to the direction of the fan in summer. So while ‘fan direction summer’ pushes the air downwards towards the floor, creating the cooling effect, ‘fan direction winter’ works to circulate the warmest air in the room when it’s chilly, pushing that warm air downwards and in turn pulling the cold air upwards.

What effect does winter fan direction create?

In other words, because warm air rises, the fan blades work to put that warm air where we want it – near us! It obviously works best when a heater is on, redistributing the warm air that has been pulled by the unavoidable forces of physics to the ceiling.

How does ceiling fan winter mode work?

How is this simple yet remarkable phenomenon possible? It’s simply the result of the design of the blade profile. For instance, when it’s in summer mode, the blades’ leading edge is higher than the trailing edge, creating a cooling downflow and wind-chill effect. But in reverse, the blades’ leading edge is lower than the trailing edge, creating an upwards flow and reducing something called ‘temperature stratification’ in the room – or when the warmest air is trapped near the ceiling.

How can you tell summer fan direction from winter?

It’s not a silly question at all to wonder how you can really tell if your ceiling fan is spinning clockwise (winter) or anti-clockwise (summer) because it depends on the perspective you’re taking. In other words, stand directly below the fan and look up – is it spinning in the direction of a clock (clockwise) or in the ‘reverse’ direction (anti-clockwise)?

But if your ceiling fan has a physical ‘summer’ or ‘winter’ switch on the motor body, you don’t need to check the actual direction at all. Just:

  • Make sure the fan is off and has stopped rotating
  • Stand on a chair
  • Flick the switch to the required mode.

What if there is no winter fan direction?

It’s actually possible that your particular ceiling fan is not reversible, meaning that it will be fixed to rotate anti-clockwise for the wind-chill effect. However, most fans these days are most definitely reversible – so if you’re not sure, pull out or look up the manual to see how the switch is done.

How else is ceiling fan direction changed?

On many modern ceiling fans, the direction change is not done via the motor body, but with the remote. While on some older or cheaper fans, it might have to be done with a pull-chain, even though it’s also possible that summer and winter mode is changed on the wall-mounted control panel.

Need more help with your ceiling fans?

Got more questions about which way should a fan spin in summer versus winter? Or have you just realised that your old, tired, featureless and less-than-stylish featureless ceiling fan needs an upgrade or repair? Tradie Near Me is a powerful and unique network of all the best fully-licensed tradies near you who would be happy to help, and it’s just a matter of filling in your details and letting us handle the rest. Try Tradie Near Me today!

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