DC Ceiling Fans vs. AC Ceiling Fans: Which Should You Buy?

Learn the difference between the two types of ceiling fans and decide which is a best for you?

Quick takeaways

Advantages of DC Ceiling Fans

  • More cost effective to run than AC ceiling fans
  • Virtually silent
  • Lighter weight makes them easier to install
  • More speed options

Advantages of AC Ceiling Fans

  • Less expensive than DC motors
  • Proven track record of reliability
  • Good energy efficiency
  • More control options

If you're new to ceiling fans or haven't bought one in some years, it's important to do your research before purchasing. Once you get started, you'll soon realize that a key decision you'll need to make is whether to go for a model with a DC motor or an AC motor.

Historically, most ceiling fans were made with AC motors. However, more and more manufacturers are introducing new DC models as well as DC-motor versions of their popular AC models.

Nowadays, there is a wide range of DC ceiling fans available for every room in your home.

So which type of ceiling fan is right for you – DC or AC? That depends on how you feel about a host of factors, including the up-front cost, the cost of operation, energy efficiency, weight, noise level and motor-speed options.

Let's dive into the basics of AC and DC motors and then move on to the pros and cons of each when used to power ceiling fans.

AC vs DC - Technical Talk

First, it helps to understand the difference between AC power and DC power.

AC stands for alternating current. It's a type of electrical current that changes direction, switching back and forth at regular intervals.

AC is the current supplied by electrical companies through their power lines to residences and businesses, and it's what comes out of the electrical wall outlet in your home. That's why most household appliances, including ceiling fans, have historically been outfitted with AC motors.

DC stands for direct current. This type of electric current is uni-directional, meaning the flow of charge is always in the same direction.

It's the current produced by batteries, solar cells and other power sources that generate a constant voltage. And, pertinent to the topic at hand, direct current can also be produced by connecting an AC power source to a transformer, which converts the power to DC. This is how direct current is made available in your home to power your appliances with DC motors.

Finally, both alternating and direct current can be used by mechanical devices to produce a rotational mechanical force - like that used to operate a ceiling fan.

How AC Motors Work

AC motors work by being connected directly to an AC power source. In general, AC motors are more powerful than DC motors. That's because they can use a more powerful current to generate higher torque. This distinction is important for large-scale applications, but it's not relevant at the scale of ceiling fan motors.

How DC Motors Work

DC motors are typically a more efficient option because they make better use of their input energy. As previously stated, a transformer is used to convert AC power to DC power. A DC motor then uses only the direct current, resulting in lower energy consumption.

DC Ceiling Fans vs. AC Ceiling Fans - Cost of Operation Compared

It's easy to calculate the cost of running a ceiling fan. All you need to know are 1) the price you pay for energy, 2) the number of hours you run your fan, and 3) the fan motor's rate of power consumption.

(Of course, many ceiling fans come with attached lights, but this calculation is based solely on the cost of running the ceiling fan itself and does not include the cost of operating the lights.)

In this comparison, we're going to pit one of our most popular DC motor models, the Fanimation Spitfire DC 64-Inch,  against a popular AC motor model, the Hunter Royal Oak 60-inch.

Worth mentioning, the Royal Oak 60 actually has a slight advantage in this cost comparison because its blade span is four inches shorter than that of the Spitfire DC 64. In general, the smaller the blade span, the lower the energy consumption.

Nonetheless, the Spitfire DC 64 still consumes considerably less energy than the Royal Oak 60, as illustrated in the chart below.

NOTE: This comparison is based on:

  • Energy cost = 10 cents / kWh
  • Hours of use per day = 12


Fanimation Spitfire 64

(Energy use: 28 watts)

Hunter Royal Oak 60


Cost Per Day



Cost Per Month



Cost Per Year



The Tale of the Tape

Calculated on a daily basis where your fan is running for 12 of the 24 hours, the Spitfire DC 64 would set you back a mere 3 cents, while the Royal Oak 60 would cost about 5 cents.

After an entire year of enjoying the benefits of the Spitfire DC 64 in your home for 12 hours per day, you would have spent just $12.26 on electricity, whereas the Royal Oak 60 would have cost you $19.27.

Put in percentage terms, the cost of operating the DC ceiling fan (Spitfire DC 64) would be 58 per cent lower than the AC ceiling fan (Royal Oak 60).

We have a winner

So there you have it. In our comparison - and this holds true generally when comparing the energy cost of DC motor ceiling fans to AC motor ceiling fans - DC was the clear winner. A DC ceiling fan is handily the more energy-efficient option, costing you considerably less to operate than an AC ceiling fan.

Still, if it even needs to be said, the cost of running any modern home ceiling fan, whether AC or DC, is genuinely negligible, particularly when you consider the substantial benefits in terms a cooler home environment and increased home comfort.

The remarkably low energy use of ceiling fans really hits home when you compare it to that of electricity-guzzling air conditioners.

Ceiling fans consume only a tiny fraction of the electrical energy required by air conditioners.

We did the math, the 28W Spitfire DC 64 featured in our AC-DC cost comparison uses a staggering 125 times less energy than an average home air conditioner, which gulps down about 3,500W.

Check Out Our Energy Cost Calculator

Want to do your own calculations? Perhaps you've found a ceiling fan you like and wonder about the cost-of-operation over time. Use our Ceiling Fan Electricity Cost Calculator to explore different scenarios, such as the cost of running it for different daily durations or determining the impact of an electricity rate hike.

The Environmental Choice

DC ceiling fans are considerably more energy efficient than AC ceiling fans, and this will be an important consideration for many shoppers. Increasingly, as a society, we agree upon the importance of environmental sustainably and value technologies that place less strain on world around us.

However, ceiling-fan buying decisions are often based on multiple factors beyond energy efficiency, including up-front cost, weight, noise level and motor-speed options. It may well be one of these other advantages of either DC an AC fans that make up your mind. Keep reading to learn more.

Advantages of Ceiling Fans with DC motors

Lower cost to run

DC ceiling fans consume substantially less energy than comparable AC ceiling fans thanks to their use of direct current.

Quiet operation

DC motors produce less friction, so they are quieter than comparable AC motors. 


The motor in a DC ceiling fan is lighter than that of a comparable AC ceiling fan, making installation easier.

More fan speeds

DC motors maintain a more stable, constant torque across different speeds than AC fans. This makes it much easier for DC ceiling fans to control their fan speed compared to AC ceiling fans. DC ceiling fans often have 6 speeds compared to 3 or 4 for AC ceiling fans. This allows users to choose from a broader range of speeds throughout the day and control the fan with greater precision.

Longer lifespan

Because DC motors use energy efficiently and do not heat up as much as AC motors, DC ceiling fans tend to have a longer lifespan.

Reverse function

Many DC ceiling fans have a reverse function that can be easily activated through the remote control.


DC ceiling fans start, accelerate, decelerate, and stop more quickly than AC ceiling fans and have a very low minimum rotational speed.

Advantages of Ceiling Fans with AC motors

Lower up-front cost

AC ceiling fans are generally less expensive to buy than their DC counterparts, making them a more budget-friendly option.

More control options

Depending on the model, AC ceiling fans can be controlled from a wall control, pull cord or remote, while DC fans can generally only be controlled by a remote.


AC ceiling fans have been in use for many decades and have a proven track record of reliable performance.

Energy efficiency

While not as energy efficient as DC motors, AC motors can still provide good energy efficiency.

Speed options

AC ceiling fans often have 3 or 4 speeds. While that's fewer speeds than offered by the typical DC ceiling fan, most AC models still provide you with plenty of flexibility to customize the airflow based on your cooling needs.

Fan Location as a Factor

Another consideration when choosing between a DC ceiling fan and an AC ceiling fan is where the fan will be installed. For example, a DC fan is often the best choice for a bedroom, living room or family room because of the quieter operation.

Meanwhile, an AC model would typically be a more affordable option if you're buying a large ceiling fan for a commercial space like an office, conference room or classroom.

Final Words

Ultimately, the choice between a DC and AC ceiling fan comes down to preferences and needs. If you're looking for a energy-efficient fan that's quiet and has a wide range of speed options, a DC ceiling fan may be the best choice. However, if your priority is a lower up-front cost, an affordable AC fan could be a better fit. Both DC and AC ceiling fans are available in many different styles and at many different price points.

Just remember that when you buy a modern ceiling fan - whether DC or AC, from a quality manufacturer, you're getting great value for your money and will enjoy your purchase for many many years into the future.

Need Advice?

Wondering which DC or AC ceiling fan would be the best fit for your needs? We can help.

Call 1-888-333-3233 today!

Ready to buy? Shop Ceiling Fans with DC Motors.