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This question asks how to find ceiling fans that don't audibly hum:

Do any ultra quiet ceiling fans that have no motor hum exist?

It is something that annoys me too. I can't stand the hum a lot of ceiling fan motors make. Our current house has many Hampton Bay fans that hum like crazy.

Over time I want to upgrade these and the answers to the above mentioned question point out that a big part of the hum is due to how AC motors work and that finding fans with DC motors would be a good thing.

How does one do that? Are there particular brands that use DC motors? Or do you just have to look at the box and hope it's in the spec's some where? Is it safe to say that, in general, DC fans would hum a lot less than AC fans? Do more expensive fans tend to use DC motors or is cost not really an indication?

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Googling "ceiling fan dc motor" throws up lots of viable links. Also: Ow, sticker shock! Meaning that the $100 model at HD most likely isn't DC. –  Niall C. Sep 18 '12 at 18:22
    
Yea, google can probably answer this question, but I also thought it was a good SE question. It's not a topic I've seen brought up much elsewhere. As for sticker shock, well, $300-$400 seems fair for high quality fans, IMHO. In my old house, I had installed a $300 fan and it was clearly a much higher quality than these Hampton Bay things. –  DA01 Sep 18 '12 at 18:25
    
There are super high-end DC units such as Haiku in the $800+ range claiming silence as a feature. –  bib Sep 19 '12 at 1:07
    
That's a really nice fan, though 60" might be overkill for every room in my house. ;) –  DA01 Sep 19 '12 at 1:50
    
That company specializes in oversized, slow moving fans that they claim better circulates air (quietly). No first hand experience, though. –  bib Sep 19 '12 at 2:06
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

DC motors are sometimes called "DC brushless" or "ECM (Electrically Commutated Motors)" in product literature. With regard to the sticker shock, DC motors are more energy efficient than AC motors, so there will be some operational cost savings there.

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Fans from big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe's tend to be cheaper because they are made from lower quality materials. Using DC motors in ceiling fans is still relatively new and most of the major fan manufacturers only have a few models that are equipped with DC motors. The major benefit of using a DC motor in a ceiling fan is lower energy consumption, NOT reduced noise level.

You can expect to pay at least $450 for a ceiling fan with a DC motor.

I suspect 1 of 3 reasons for your humming Hampton Bay ceiling fans:

  1. Are you using a switch on the wall to adjust the speed of your ceiling fan? If you are using a light dimmer (or any control that is infinitely variable), your fan will often make a humming noise. You need to use a "stepped" speed control, something that clicks in 3-4 specific speeds.

  2. The fans you own are cheap. Visit a ceiling fan specialty store and purchase a better fan. You'll pay more, but you will get a higher quality fan that runs quieter.

  3. Very rare, but the architecture of your house can amplify the noise of a ceiling fan. If your fan is mounted on a wooden beam, fans with strong motors sometimes generate a humming noise. Possible solutions: purchase a cheaper, weaker fan OR purchase a more expensive fan, preferably and Emerson fan with a K55 motor and a flywheel or a Casablanca fan with an XLP motor and flywheel.

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