Fans, Electricity, And You: How Much Electricity Do Fans Use?

Fans are like the internet of yester year. We can not imagine life sans one, especially in a hot environment. It is one of the most important things that put a smile on our faces when we return home from a hot, humid and unforgiving day we spend working so hard! In ancient times, this smile was free when fans were ‘hand-operated’. Now it comes with a cost, albeit an affordable one. And that my dear friends, is electricity, which costs money. So, let us take a look at the consumption of this wonderful appliance.

Types of Fans Using Electricity As Power

Before generalizing about the savings, making an informed decision is always wise. In order to do that, let’s get to know the most common types of fans available in the market.

The folding fan

Also called a Japanese (or Oriental) folding fan, you just flap it near your face to get instant, short bursts of wind. This is one of the most ideal fans you can purchase. Why? a) it is cheap; b) it is portable; c) it is ergonomic, and d) it does not cost electricity! Well it can not beat the price of the local newspaper or a magazine in your local barber’s shop. But its ergonomic design arguably helps your wrists last longer while you are flapping away.

The ceiling fan

This is (almost) the staple appliance of a majority of households, as far as cooling solutions are concerned. It consists of a central motor with three or more blades attached strategically. The entire unit is hung on a hook from the ceiling. The motor works on electricity and rotates the blades which pump the air over it down on your heads.

The table fan

This is a miniature version of the ceiling fan, which can be kept on a – you guessed it – table! Some similar, bigger capacity fans have long support which keep them upright; and these are called pedestal fans or mist fans.

The tower fan

This fan comes in the shape of a tower and is operated by a motor just like the above two, but differs in the mode of air circulation with additional features like filtration and ionization. These fans boast an efficiency in the operation of their motors.

Wattage, Volts, and Amps

So, the big question is, “How much electricity do these fans consume?” That depends on the motor that is used in any kind of fan as well as its speed setting. Each motor has a voltage rating (Volts), an ampere rating (Amps), and/or a Wattage rating (Watts). These ratings are specified on the label of the fan (or its motor unit). Assuming 1 Kilowatt-hour (kWh) or 1000 watts of electricity used per hour to be equal to 1 unit of electricity on your meter, you can calculate the units consumed by the fan by simply dividing its wattage rating by 1000. So, for an ultra-power-saving, Energy Star fan with a 20-Watt rating, the amount of electricity consumed is (20 ÷ 1000 = 0.02) or 0.02 units at maximum speed. It’s that simple.

If you don’t know the wattage rating or can not find it, just look for the ampere rating on that fan. Once you have found it, multiply it by 110 or 120, (which must be the standard voltage of the electric supply in the US) and behold! You have your wattage rating. So, a fan with 0.16 Amp rating amounts to 0.16 x 120 = 19.2 Watts (approximately 20, a ‘marketing-friendly’ number) or 0.02 units for you.

And, there it is – basic mathematics saving your bills. Of course, the higher capacity motors draw more electricity, while the lower capacity ones draw less. Among the range of household fans available in the market, you can find these 20-Watt fans for economic use or 100 to 110-watt high-end ones which utilize to 0.02 to 0.11 units of electricity per hour respectively.

Considering a rate of $0.15 per unit and 24-hour use, a fan uses as low as $2.19 [ (0.02 units) x (24 hours) x (365 days) ÷ (12 months) x ($0.15) ] or as high as $12.045 worth of electricity per month. Not bad!