FAQ Ceiling Fans - What is the Difference between AC and DC Ceiling fans?

Frequently Asked Questions - Ceiling Fans.

What is the difference between a DC ceiling fan and an AC ceiling fan?

There are a couple of differences between AC and DC fans, we will dicuss each point:

  1. How much power they draw. (Energy efficiency)
  2. Noise level
  3. Price
  4. Speed control.

DC fans did not appear in the domestic market until about 2016, so it is safe to say that all fans prior to this were AC style fans.  Now days there are equal amounts of AC models to DC models so it is worth noting the differences.

AC Fans:

  • AC fans typically had a motor in the range of 60watt to 90watts depending on the size of the fan, So when a fan is running on High, it draws the full amount of power (90watts).  When the fan was on low they typically drew about 15 - 30watts power.
  • There are two types of noises fans make, one is wind rush noise, this is the whoosh sound as a fan is on high. (This noise depends on the blade type and speed, AC or DC does not affect this noise) The other noise we are going to talk about is motor hum noise.  This is the noise a fan makes when on low.  A good quality fan is very silent on low but cheaper AC fans can typically have an audible hum.  The motor hum is not usually an issue on the higher speeds as the wind rush noise drowns out any motor hum noises. 
  • AC Fans are typically very affordable, at the time we wrote this AC fans could vary in price from $100 up to $500 but there are a number of models availabel below the $200 mark.
  • AC fans will nearly always come with a 3 speed wall control - Low, Medium and High.  You can use a remote control on AC fans and this will replace the 3 speed switch but this is usually bought as an extra item at the time of purchase.

DC Fans:

  • DC Fans are very efficient, Most DC fans have a maximum power draw of 35watts on high, and maybe as low as 5 watts on low, so quite a difference to the AC example above.
  • DC Fans are very quiet, there is almost no motor hum, This has to do with the DC part of the name - DC stands for Direct current as opposed to AC Alternating current.  As the alternating current passes through the motor of an AC fan it can induce a hum causing the noise, but a DC fan does not have same wave form in the power and hence it cannot induce a hum in the motor.
  • DC Fans usually cost more, while there are quite a few DC models on the market, at the time of writing this most DC fans started at $300 and up.
  • DC Fans cannot be controlled by the traditional 3 speed wall control, they must have a remote control which talks to the electronic in the fan to change the speed of the fan.  The Remote control is always included in the box with the fan and it is typically a 5 or 6 speed remote which offers a point of difference to the normal 3 speed AC fans.