Ceiling Fan Vs. AC (Which One To Buy?)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

ceiling fan speed

Can you keep your cool when things start heating up? I’m not talking about your temper in an argument, though. When the mercury rises and the sweat is dripping, is your home a cool haven for your family? We have the choice of AC or ceiling fans, but which is better? How do ceiling fans compare with AC?

Air conditioners give us the luxury of perfectly comfortable temperatures, but they are costly. Ceiling fans don’t cool the air. They circulate it, but it still has a cooling effect on our skins. They are cost-effective, which may outweigh the luxury choice of an AC.

Budget-conscious homeowners debate whether the extra costs of an AC are worth the comfort or if they can get by with a few ceiling fans. There is no single correct answer because each family will have to consider their budget and the type of system that suits their needs. You could even find a way to work economically with a combination of the two cooling systems.

Ceiling Fan Vs. AC (4 Facts)

Ceiling Fan VS Aircon

Let’s make a little comparison between both systems. It should become apparent which type of cooling system suits your family’s needs.

1. Ceiling Fan Vs. AC: Capabilities And Efficiency

Contrary to popular belief, ceiling fans don’t cool the air. They circulate the air around the room, cooling your skin and causing the moisture to evaporate. Even though a fan isn’t cooling the room, it is still very efficient because it is cooling you, and once you’ve parked yourself underneath it for a little while, you will be refreshed.

Depending on the age and style, ceiling fans can be noisy, unbalanced, and not too pretty. But as decorators have begun to embrace them again, designs have improved, so that modern ones rarely have these problems.

AC is an umbrella term for a group of different cooling units. There is the old-fashioned window AC, ducted ACs (central AC), portable units, split system ACs, and the evaporative types. 

Window ACs, split system units, and portable ACs can only cool one room at a time, but ducted ACs can cool the entire house. Some models are capable of zoning or varying temperatures in different rooms. For the immediate and perfect chill factor on a scorching day, the air conditioner is your best friend.

2. Ceiling Fan Vs. AC: Cost


Though ceiling fans and ACs both have the ability to keep us cool, there is a vast difference in the costs of purchasing the units, installing them, running them, and maintaining them. This is where the humble ceiling fan has the most significant advantage over the air conditioner.

Ceiling fans are generally inexpensive to purchase and can be installed at little or no cost. Once they’re up there, there is usually very little maintenance that needs to be done. A ceiling fan uses a fraction of the amount of electricity necessary to run an AC, which means you can keep your fan going far longer at an exceptionally cheap rate.

The cost factor is the major drawback when installing an air conditioner. They are expensive to buy, need a licensed professional to install them, and require ongoing maintenance by said (not cheap) professionals. They use loads more electricity than the ceiling fan.

Depending on the speed that a ceiling fan is running at, it will use between 15 and 100 watts. On the other hand, an AC can use 2000-5000 watts per hour. That puts energy consumption and costs into perspective. 

3. Ceiling Fan Vs. AC: Effects On Our Health

ceiling fan with light

Both ceiling fans and ACs can affect our health in different ways. That’s because each person’s body reacts differently to the cool and circulating air.

The ceiling fan doesn’t seem to influence people’s health as much during the day when they’re active and not constantly under it, but is it healthy to sleep with the fan on? These are some of the possible downsides to sleeping under a spinning fan.

  • It can trigger allergies, asthma, and hayfever by stirring up pollen, dust, spores, etc.
  • Sleeping under a fan can dry out your nose and throat, causing congestion and headaches.
  • It can aggravate muscle pain. If you already have muscle aches, the constant blowing of cold air can cause them to spasm more.

There are also some positive effects of sleeping with a fan on:

  • It maintains your comfort, especially if you’re a hot sleeper who tends to wake up sweaty. Leaving the fan on will help to promote undisturbed sleep.
  • If you prefer to close your windows at night, a ceiling fan will prevent the room from becoming stuffy.
  • Using a fan instead of an AC will decrease your summer electricity bill.
  • The circulating air helps prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by decreasing the carbon dioxide concentration in the room.

An air conditioner can also have adverse effects on our health, even though it keeps us comfortable. 

  • AC can cause dry eyes where the eyes become itchy and irritated.
  • One’s skin can also become dry from spending too much time in an air-conditioned room.
  • AC draws the humidity from the room and can leave people feeling dehydrated.
  • ACs can cause allergic rhinitis, a dry throat, and a blocked nose. This can be caused by dust and allergens being blown into a room with no fresh air.
  • AC can worsen an asthmatic’s condition if it is not cleaned regularly. Mold can grow in the system, which is a trigger for some asthmatics.
  • If you are in an air-conditioned room for too long, your mucous membrane in the nasal passages can become dry, making you vulnerable to infectious diseases.
  • Dehydration caused by the AC can lead to headaches and migraines.
  • Studies have linked AC to people feeling lethargic and sluggish.

4. Ceiling Fan Vs. AC: When To Use Them

We don’t have to see ceiling fans and ACs as polar opposites to be used exclusively of one another. Fans speed up the evaporation of moisture from your skin and aid dehydration. The CDC, therefore, only recommends the use of a fan until the mercury hits 95°F. 

You should only use a fan when:

  • The temperature is less than 95°F.
  • Humidity is not high.
  • You can be close to the fan.
  • You don’t want to use a lot of power.

You should use the AC when:

  • The temperature is over 95°F
  • Humidity is high.
  • You want to keep a more extensive area cool.
  • Your budget for electricity is bigger.

Another good idea is to sometimes use the two systems simultaneously. You can turn the thermostat up while using the fan. This will save a lot of power and give you the best of both worlds.


There are advantages and disadvantages to both ceiling fans and air conditioners. If a choice has to be made, it will be decided by a homeowner’s budget and ability to withstand the heat.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.