Why Do Ceiling Fans Have a Reversing Switch?

What is the reason for having a reverse button on ceiling fans? Well "they" say that you can not stand a draft during winter months, but that you can equalize the air temperature buy using your fan in the reverse direction.

I always wondered why the older ceiling fans did not have a reverse button. Were the people who designed those fans, just too stupid to think about using reverse in winter?

During winter, when you use the central heating system, the warm air coming out of the registers, in each room, will naturally rise and because the registers are up high already, the hot air will build at the ceiling level and gradually work its way down toward floor level. The heating unit runs until the temperature is comfortable at the lower levels of the rooms. But by the time this happens, it will be very hot at the ceiling level. Many BTU's are wasting heating the ceiling areas of the home, where we do not live our lives.

But what if there was a way to get this hot air down off the ceiling, to the lower levels where we live. The heating unit would not need to work as long and the savings on our utility bill could be significant. AHH CEILING FANS! will bring this air down and mix the hot air with the cooler air at floor level. This mixing would basically equalize the temperature at floor and ceiling levels, which means that the heat would not be wasted keeping the ceilings warm. The heating unit would not run as much. The utility bill will be lower while the comfort level will remain the same.

But then someone said that the draft created by the ceiling fans would be too much for winter months. So someone else said "well, let's just reverse the ceiling fans and let the air blow up until it hits the ceiling and then it will go horizontal in all directions until it hits the walls. Then it will come down vertically until it hits the floor . Now it will travel, at floor level, back in toward the center of the room and then back up to the ceiling fan. What a genius! Now everyone can use ceiling fans to equalize the temperature without feeling a draft in winter.

Oh yea! So what happens when this warm air starts down the walls and hits furniture, bookshelves, etc? It will start a horizontal movement toward the center of the room. Now when it comes out past the obstruction, will it turn and fall toward the floor, where it can mix? If warm air falls instead of rising, then I guess it could.

What happens when air from the ceiling fans hits the ceiling in a room with a sloped ceiling? If the ceiling fan is centered in the room, it would be basically half way up the slope. So would not all the air go directly up the slope from where the ceiling fan is mounted? What about the other half of the room?

What happens when the room is large? Will the force, coming down the walls, still be enough to get this warm air to the floor, especially when the ceiling is two stories high?
What happens when ceiling fans are in a room with a two story high ceiling, which is open to the second floor level of the home? Would not the warm air go off into the second level, instead of coming down to the floor and in this situation, would not the ceiling fan steal the warm air from the first level and take it to the second floor, defeating the purpose for which it is being used?

On the other hand, if you blow the air down, the hot air at the ceiling level will be forced down to floor level where it will move in all directions toward the outer walls of the room. The air can now mix and seek its own level. The hotter air will naturally rise to the ceiling level where it will be picked up by the fan to repeat the cycle. So would not this be much more efficient than using reverse, especially in the scenario where the ceiling is two stories high and open to the second floor? But what about the draft? I say just run the ceiling fan at a low speed or the highest speed that you can tolerate and still be comfortable.

Could reverse on ceiling fans be a marketing tool to sell fans in winter? You decide.

But I do not think that the old folks overlooked something as important as this. I think that they used what was most efficient. I agree and my ceiling fans always blow down, winter and summer. And if you happen to have a room with the two story ceiling where the room is open to the second level, and where you notice the upstairs is always hot while the lower level is cold during winter, try using your ceiling fans in the down direction . You will not believe the difference!

Note; the ceiling fan should be within two or three feet of the ceiling to be most efficient in this situation.