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Flush Mount vs Downrod Ceiling Fan – Which Is Best?

If you’re planning to install a ceiling fan in the near future, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is the type of mounting to use for your fan. Do you go for a flush mount vs downrod ceiling fan design?

To make your selection easy, here’s everything you need to know about downrod and flush mount ceiling fans. 

Flush Mount vs Downrod Ceiling Fan – Complete Comparison

What is the difference between a flush mount and a downrod ceiling fan?

A downrod is a type of ceiling fan attached to the ceiling through a rod. The rod serves two key functions. 

For one, it helps to stabilize the fan so that it doesn’t wobble when it’s moving. Secondly, it facilitates optimal airflow by maintaining a reasonable distance between a) the ceiling and the fan blades and b) the floor and the fan blades. 

On the other hand, a flush mount is a ceiling fan that’s attached directly to the ceiling. Given that the fan’s base is anchored to the ceiling and the blades are just a couple of inches below, this unit is also referred to as a “ceiling hugger fan”. 

Downrod Ceiling Fans

Are ceiling fan downrods universal?

No, they are not universal. Downrods are designed to work with the brand- or manufacturer-specific ceiling fans. 

In fact, if you’ve shopped for downrods before, you’ll notice that they vary widely based on factors such as UL rating, mode of installation, color, and diameter. 

So if you’re looking to replace your current rod, look for one that is an exact replica of your existing one. However, you can go for a different length if that’s what your space demands.

Can you flush mount a ceiling fan that has a downrod?

No, you can’t. Converting a downrod fan to be flush-mounted is not entirely impossible. However, we highly recommend you to leave the fan as it is. 

Here’s why: a downrod model is designed in such a way that it relies on the rod for stability. 

This then means that attempting to remove the rod will interfere with the integrity and stability of the whole ceiling fan. So even if you manage to mount it without the rod, you risk the entire unit falling and getting wrecked. 

Besides, flush-mounted ceiling fans come with special mounting brackets that allow you to attach the units as close to the ceiling as possible. It means that if you want to convert your downrod fan, then you’ll have to look for a compatible mounting bracket.

Another point you should keep in mind is that the motor of a downrod ceiling fan operates very differently from a flush-mounted one. 

If you attempt to transform your downrod to the latter, there’s a pretty good chance that it will generate too much heat, which could damage your ceiling’s structure. 

Can you add a downrod to a flush mount?

No, you cannot. Most flush mount ceiling fans just aren’t designed for use with downrods. If you really want this fan design, then consider buying an entirely new fan that will come with a well-equipped mounting kit. 

How far should a downrod ceiling fan hang?

Mounting your downrod fan too low or too high can lead to poor airflow in a space. So you want to ensure that you’re hanging it at the correct height from the ceiling and the floor. 

These downrods come in different lengths ranging from 2 to 72 inches. For a standard size room with a typical ceiling height of 8 to 9 feet, the ideal length for a downrod is 2 to 10 inches. 

But for spaces with high ceilings, a longer downrod is the best choice to ensure proper airflow. Here’s a chart to guide you on downrod sizes:

Ceiling HeightDownrod Length
9 ft6 in
10 ft12 in
12 ft24 in
14 ft36 in
16 ft48 in
18 ft60 in
20 ft72 in

Flush Mount Ceiling Fans

Are flush mount ceiling fans effective?

Yes, flush mount ceiling fans are effective. 

However, some may argue that they’re less effective than their downrod counterparts, and reasonably so. 

Here’s the deal, flush mount fans are mounted pretty close to the ceiling. Since there’s less clearance between the fan’s blades and the ceiling, there’s minimal room for air to travel over and through the blades. 

In fact, the closer these blades are to the ceiling, the more constricted the flow of air is between the ceiling and the blade. 

While this is true, modern “hugger” fans are designed with features that make them well capable of competing with the downrod models. For instance, some flush mount fans include much larger, wider blades as well as more powerful motors. The bigger the size of the blade, the more air it’s able to move. 

When to install flush mount ceiling fans

The efficiency of any ceiling fan depends largely on its placement. For the best result, it’s recommended that these fixtures be installed in the middle of a room, and at least 7 to 9 feet from the floor. 

But if your home has a low-lying ceiling, it may be difficult to achieve this clearance. This is where flush-mounted fans come in handy. 

Since they sit fairly close to the ceiling, they leave plenty of room below; thus, helping you comply with the recommended floor clearance. This means taller people don’t have to worry about bumping their heads on the blades of the fan. 

If you’re not a DIY enthusiast, you may also want to consider installing a flush mount fan as it requires less work. With the hugger type, there’s no need to set up the downrod that supports the fan blades, and this makes for a fairly quick and simple installation. 

Step-by-step guide to install a ceiling fan without downrod

Installing a ceiling hugger fan is a fairly easy job that can be undertaken by anyone. 

If you choose wisely, you’ll find an all-inclusive mounting kit provided with the fan you buy. But just in case it doesn’t, here’s a list of tools you’ll need:

  • Crescent wrench
  • Cordless drill
  • Screwdrivers
  • Insulating tape
  • Pliers
  • Dust mask
  • Ladder
  • Safety glasses

Step 1

Start by positioning the ladder just slightly behind the ceiling fan. You can have someone on the ground to assist you as you climb up the ladder. 

Step 2

The next step involves switching off the circuit breaker on the service panel. Be sure to turn off the specific panel that supplies power to the ceiling outlet where the fan is positioned. 

If you aren’t sure whether power is still on, check using an electrical tester. Place it near the wires of the ceiling outlet box, and if there’s a beeping sound that’s produced, this indicates that the power is still on. 

Step 3

If there’s an existing lighting fixture or ceiling fan, you’ll need to remove it first before mounting the new one. 

Step 4

Now to the fun part- installing your new fan! Start by mounting the base plate or bracket to the electrical junction box that your old fan was connected to. 

A quick tip: if your previous fan was mounted to a plastic junction box, you might want to replace this first as it might not be able to hold up to the intense vibrations of your new fan.

Once you’re done mounting the plate, check whether it’s level. You should also pull down on this base plate to be sure that it will support the weight of the fan.

Step 5

Next, connect the mounting bracket to the fan motor. This will require you to connect the wires running from the motor to the wires in the junction box.

Depending on their length, you may be forced to shorten the wires from the motor. But don’t cut them too short, aim for a length of at least six inches.

Step 6

Once you’re done with the wiring, connect the fan bracket to the mounting bracket by aligning the slotted holes onto the screws of the base plate.  Turn the fan to ensure that the base and fan bracket are locked in together. Fasten the screws on the fan so that it’s held firmly to the ceiling. 

Step 7

Install the fan blades. You will be provided with several screws to help you attach the blades to the rest of the fan. Be sure to tighten these screws tightly so that they don’t come loose when the fan starts rotating. 

Now all that’s left to do is to turn the circuit breaker back on and enjoy the rewards of your newly installed hugger fan. 

Wrap Up

The type of mounting you pick for your fan should be based on the height of your ceiling. 

For standard and low-lying ceilings – which are 8 feet tall or less- a flush mount fan is the best alternative. Since it’s anchored directly to the ceiling, it leaves a decent amount of floor clearance. 

On the other hand, downrod fans are a better option for high ceilings. You get to choose the length of the downrod depending on how tall your ceiling is.

NOTE FROM the author

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- Tiffany B.