History of the Ceiling Fan

Casablanca Fan Co. "Delta" ceiling fan from the early 1980s.

A ceiling fan is a mechanical fan that is fixed to the ceiling of a space or room. It is normally dependent on electricity and uses rotating blades to ensure the circulation of air. These fans can provide cooling for the occupants of the space by increasing the airspeed. 

Fans do not decrease the temperature of the air or relative humidity like air conditioners. It can cool by assisting in the evaporation of sweat and increasing the exchange of heat through convection. 


Origins in India

The history stretches back to 500BC, when the first kinds of ceiling fans were invented in India. They were referred to as the Punkah-style ceiling fans. These were made using the Indian palmyra leaves which were used to form a massive blade and moved in a pendular motion. The operation was initially done using a cord, but today it is powered by electricity to use a belt-based system. Compared with the rotating fan, the Punkah-style ceiling fans produced a much gentler breeze instead of airflow. 

United States 

The first kinds of rotary ceiling fans were seen in the United States between 1860 and 1870. During this period, the fans were operated using running water alongside a system made of belts and turbines. The fans had two blades and did not run on electricity. This design allowed for many fan units and soon became prominent in offices, restaurants, and stores. In some parts of the southern United States, you can still be fortunate to see some of these old fans in use today. 

The Advent of the Electric Fan

The powering of fans using electricity started in 1882 with the invention of American electrical engineer Schuyler Skaats Wheeler. Philip Diehl, an American-German mechanical engineer, also added to the design when he mounted a fan blade upon a sewing machine motor and then fixed it to the ceiling. Diehl applied for a patent and got it in 1889. He would later include a light fixture on the fan, the new design that Diehl came up with means that there is no need for the belt drive again. 

Further Developments

Diehl’s improvements greatly increased the product’s acceptance in the market, but he kept on doing further designs and enhancements. This was so much so that by 1914, most of the ceiling fans in use had four blades rather than two. The new designs allowed for reduced noise and improved air circulation. Great commercial success in the sale of fans led to the expansion of brands. 

But the popularity of the ceiling fan was not limited to the United States alone as nations like India and those of the Middle East that have scorching climates; the fans were also very well-accepted. By the early 1970s, India became so dominant in the fan industry that American entrepreneurs like HW Markwardt were importing ceiling fans into the United States from India. 

Markwardt was able to do this because of the production capacity from the venture created by Greaves Cotton of India and the Crompton Parkinson brand in England. The venture was able to figure out precisely the kind of fans that the people would appreciate. The pricing was perfect, and they were ideal when it came to energy conservation. They also looked more modern than the ones made in America. The fans soon became the preferred appliances for saving energy in commercial and residential spaces. 

Fans made in India gradually penetrated the global market and exploded in popularity over time. The design of the fans improved the efficiency of the products and increased the appeal in the market. As a result of the increase in commercial success, many other brands and manufacturers joined in the ceiling fans’ production. 

All through the 1980s and 1990s, the ceiling fans have remained popular all over the United States of America. Several importers in the United States focused on ceiling fans and got the products from places like India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and later China. There were several reasons for this trend, but one of the most important was that the ones made in America were remarkably more expensive than the ones imported from Asia. 

The Asians quickly dominated the ceiling fan market using the price and other more practical techniques. For example, makers in places like Indonesia and the Phillippines came up with mini ceiling fans made from plastic. These ceiling fans had oscillating pedestals, were portable, and found good use in low-income homes. 

1980 and Beyond

The exciting thing about ceiling fan technology is that it has not changed much ever since the 1980s, but there have been some impressive additions. Fans are now more efficient with energy usage and the incorporation of applications for virtual or remote control. Ceiling fans are now smarter, and brands like Craftmade, Monte Carlo, Quorum, Litex, and others are churning out more high-tech and trendier fans in design, style, and function. 

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