What is a Remote Control Fan?

Anna B. Smith

A remote control fan is a device used to circulate air that may be controlled by a hand-held operating mechanism. These fans may be placed on the floor of the home, on a desk or tabletop, or installed in the ceiling. Each design moves air efficiently, and allows the operator to adjust the rotational speed of the fan blades, or power of the air blowers, without leaving his seat. Remotes are traditionally packaged with the fans, though they may be purchased separately and attached at a later time, as is the case with ceiling models.

A remote control can dictate whether a fan stays stationary or oscillates.
A remote control can dictate whether a fan stays stationary or oscillates.

There are three primary designs for a remote control fan: a tower unit, a desk unit, and a ceiling unit. A tower fan traditionally sits on the floor and reaches between two and four feet (between 0.6 and 1.2 meters) in height. The fan is often rectangular in design and features a series of small air blowers that are situated along the length of the machine behind a protective screen. The remote feature works by relaying a simple command signal from the hand held unit, which is relayed to a sensory eye built into the fan. The remote may be used to turn the fan on or off, adjust the speed at which the blowers are operating, and cause the fan to oscillate or remain stationary.

A desk remote control fan model is usually less than 12 inches tall (30.5 centimeters) and can fit on virtually any table top surface. These fans customarily feature three paddle shaped blades that spin in a clockwise direction inside a vented circular metal or plastic protective covering. The blades may be angled along the length of the paddle to more effectively circulate air. The remote feature must be built internally in the fan and functions in a manner identical to the tower fan unit.

Any type of ceiling fan may be equipped with a remote control. The fan itself is connected to the home's existing electrical cables in the ceiling, which are then routed to a panel switch in the wall. A remote control fan switch may be purchased from a local home improvement store or through the Internet. The remote will generally allow the operator to turn the fan on or off, and to select the speed at which it rotates. Some models allow the operator to control the fan independently of any light fixtures to which it may be attached.

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