Smart Ceiling Fans: The best options in 2021
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Updated: 19 May 2021
It’s surprising how effective ceiling fans can be at keep things cool, and I find it’s often sufficient on the less scorching days to allow us to avoid using the AC. Naturally, being big into smart homes I’d want to get those fans hooked up to the system for convenience and automation possibilities.
Looking for a good smart fan is getting easier as more brands start to add some sort of capability, and I’ve pored over dozens of models looking for the best options.
Why use a smart ceiling fan?
Making your ceiling fans smart, or adding some to your home, can actually help save energy. Fans can improve your heating and cooling efficiency by circulating the air better. But smart fans take this a step further by allowing you to connect them to other smart devices and sensors in the home to optimize their use.
The integration options on most models are a bit limited, but it’s improving. Since this is a key requirement, my best overall pick in the new range from Minka Aire. They offer a wide range of quality fans with the best smart home systems integration options on the market right now.
You might not like their style choices, though, so I’ve hunted down some alternatives, both for smart platform choices and price points, keeping in mind basic quality requirements like noise and balance, as well as customer feedback.
Best Smart Ceiling Fan Overall
What I Like
I’ve gone with the Minka Aire range for a few reasons, the main one being the extensive smart home integrations. They licensed the Bond smart hub tech and built it into the fan, so you use the Bond app and can leverage the same integrations that it offers for the hub. This includes Alexa, Google Home, Nest, Ecobee, SmartThings, Controll4, ELAN, Hubitat, Siri Shortcuts (not HomeKit) and more.
Minka are a well established brand in light fittings and fans, and that bears out in their high customer satisfaction ratings. Importantly the fans are factory balanced and run very quietly.
The range of fans in their smart lineup is quite extensive, so there’s likely one that will appeal to you. I’m personally a fan of the Dyno XL range for their variety of finishes and good mid-size. All the models include a fairly bright LED light, and are reversible. The light is an integrated LED panel, so it’s not interchangeable for other bulbs.
The smallest size they have is 58”, so if you want something smaller, read on for some alternatives in the sub 55” range.
These are DC fans, like most modern fans are these days. That means they don’t work with old style wall controls, and need either the remote or a specific wall controller. Minka does offer one as an option, which is not always the case with other brands.
What’s a bit frustrating is that the light component is also limited to the remote, which means you can’t use your existing light switch with it, so you may have to go with the wall module if you want that accessible without having to find the remote.
I’ve seen several customers say the remote looks a bit dated, and I agree. It’s a pretty bare bones design and does have a bit of a cheap look to it. It also doesn’t allow dimming of the light, even though it’s a dimmable variety. I haven’t marked them down too harshly on this since we’re looking at this as a smart fan first and foremost.
Best Smart Ceiling Fan for Quality
What I Like
Big Ass Fans is a maker of high end ceiling fans targeted at the commercial sector, hence the name. Many of their models are truly huge, but they also make a couple of smaller models under the Haiku range.
This commercial pedigree is why I’ve picked this as the best quality option. Every fan is factory balanced and noise tested to ensure quiet operation (less than 35 dB at maximum speed) , and that’s guaranteed. That’s backed up by very pro-active and knowledgeable support, which by all accounts goes above and beyond.
The Haiku L comes in white, black, and a caramel option which includes a wood finish on the blades. The fan includes a flush mounted, low profile warm white LED light with a 60W equivalent and can be dimmed to one of 16 brightness levels.
The blades are specifically engineered for high efficiency air movement (based on aircraft airfoil design), that helps contribute to low noise levels, but also gives them the best airflow of any smart ceiling fan I’ve looked at.
It natively supports Google and Alexa, which covers a big chunk of the smart home market. You might see some reviews talk about SenseMe technology. This used to be a big selling point for integration with thermostats, but was based on the old Nest integration platform. Google killed that off in 2019 and upset a lot of partners, so it’s gone now. Instead, standard voice assistant integration is now provided. These platforms allow you to create automation rules that can add similar smarts, and really gives you more flexibility in this area than before.
These things are pricey, and they aren’t really focused on the smart tech side of things. The connectivity is limited to two platforms, and they can be a bit of a pain to get connected to your Wi-Fi initially. But if you’re looking for a top quality fan with some level of smarts, this is worth a look.
Best Smart Ceiling Fan for HomeKit
What I Like
Smart ceiling fans with built in HomeKit support are hard to come by at the moment, but long time fan maker Hunter has a number of options in both three blade and five blade designs.
Hunter uses their proprietary SIMPLEConnect technology for smart integration, which offers connection to the big three voice assistants including full HomeKit support. As such these are the only ones on offer with native HomeKit capability at the moment, so the ‘best’ rating is unfortunately a given for this category.
All the smart fans in the lineup come with an integrated warm white LED light. The LED is dimmable and quite bright at 117W equivalent.
HomeKit users may also want to check out the Casablanca Aya, a modern looking two blade design. Casablanca fans are also under the Hunter stable, so use the same technology for their wireless connection.
For non-HomeKit users, it seems Hunter is still working out the kinks with this one. There have been issues with connectivity to their own app and the remote. This is an issue given than fan is entirely remote controlled. A physical control switch can turn it on and off, but that’s it.
HomeKit users, However, seem to be fine. You’ll need to set it up in the Hunter app first, but once paired with HomeKit you can control it entirely through there which doesn’t seem to suffer from these issues at all. As such, it’s worth calling this one out given the lack of other options.
Also importantly, Hunter has region locked their app to North America, so if you’re out of that region you’ll need to look at other options. HomeKit users can look at my guide on smart fan control for other options.
Best Smart Ceiling Fan for Value
What I Like
Modern Forms is another prolific fan maker an has brought out a new range of modern styled smart ceiling fans. The Lotus model comes in white, black, or brushed aluminum. The Lotus offers a reasonably low profile and a broad range of smart integrations. This list goes above and beyond most other brands with the exception on Mika Aire.
Currently the list includes not only Alexa, Google, and SmartThings, but connections to Ecobee and home automation system Josh AI and Control4. They’re still adding more, with Lutron, Savant and Nest integration already announced. Unfortunately, to get any of these, you need to buy their $10 in-app purchase, which seems a little weird.
The included LED light is super bright at 1600 lumens, and comes with a choice of three color temperatures, 2700K, 3000K, and 3500K, and is dimmable.
The default control, unlike the the above options, is provided by a hard wired (for power) Bluetooth wall controller. Additional battery remote controls with wall mounts are available for purchase so you can set up 3 or 4 way control situations, which offers a nice level of flexibility.
The Modern Forms fans use a high efficiency DC motor, which delivers very low noise (they say silent, but that’s subjective), and very low power consumption. It doesn’t deliver the same airflow as the Haiku above, though, which has a better engineered blade design. Even so, the combination of factory balancing, efficiency, and extensive smart home integrations make these worth a look.
The app is known to be a bit flaky, hopefully that will improve with time, and once you get it set up with control through another smart platform it should be less of an issue since you won’t have to use it much.
If you don’t want the light, the fan comes with a cover included that can be installed over it. This makes it look like a normal fan hub. I suppose this makes manufacturing simpler, but it’s an odd approach in that you’re paying for the light either way.
The battery in the remotes only lasts about 6 months. That’s not terrible, but less than some smart devices.
Alternative Value Smart Ceiling Fan
I’ve included these simply as an alternative for style choices. Built on the same tech platform as the Modern Forms fan above, the WAC Lighting Mocha offers a lower cost alternative.
It comes in the same white, black, or brushed aluminum finishes, and offers an optional LED light this time. The no light option will save you above 20%, so it’s significant. The available LED light is a 3000K warm white, with the same high brightness as the Lotus.
Being the same smart tech platform, you get the wide range of smart integrations for the $10 upgrade fee, including Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and Ecobee. Lutron, Savant and Nest integrations are ‘coming soon’, so that may be worth considering if you have those.
The fan design is solid enough, and being factory balanced runs fairly quietly. The simpler blade design does limit airflow potential though. You’ll get better from the higher priced models, particularly the Haiku range above. Still, if you’re looking for a more budget friendly option that can also be used outdoors, this is the one.
Best Smart Ceiling Fan on a Budget
What I Like
Honeywell is a well respected brand in electronics, and their range of fans rates very highly. I’ve included this one as the best low cost option as a result. The Honeywell Rio comes in nickel, bronze or white finishes in an attractive design that offers flush mounting as well as using the down rod, but keep in mind that the blades are plastic.
The remote uses a proprietary radio signal for control. As such, you’ll need Honeywell’s hub in order to connect it to Alexa, and Alexa is the only integration option on offer. That makes it technically a smart ceiling fan, so if Alexa is all you need, then this is a cheap option. Otherwise, you’ll need to look at higher priced offerings.
Being a simpler design you can wire this to standard fan wall controller if you wish, as well as using the provided battery powered remote.
There’s no LED light with this one, but the integrated light fitting offers and E26 socket and you get 2 CFL bulbs thrown in. These included bulbs aren’t dimmable, but the remote does support dimming if you swap them for something more compatible.
Airflow is good, but at full speed it’s quite loud. The curved blades may produce enough flow at lower speeds for you, but your mileage will vary. As I noted earlier you get what you pay for.
Things to consider
Why use a smart ceiling fan?
Besides the obvious convenience of being able to control your fans with a voice command, there are some automation advantages that might be worth considering.
Ceiling fans are not only used for cooling, but can benefit heating as well. As warm air rises you’ll tend to have heated air at the top of the room and cooler air at the bottom. A ceiling fan can circulate this so you have more even temperature throughout, which improves your heating efficiency by reducing the heat output required to get the lower part of the room to the desired temperature (where the people are).
Using a smart fan allows you to automatically do this in conjunction with your thermostat, and you can also augment this with smart temperature sensors in different locations. Be being able to sense the differential in temperature at different parts of the room, a smart home platform can have rules created that will turn the fans on and off as required to keep things more balanced.
The same also applies to cooling, but you could also integrate window sensors to help circulate fresh air in the warmer months and tie this into to occupancy sensors to it doesn’t run when no body is home.
What types of smart ceiling fans are there?
There are three main ways you can add smart ceiling fans to your home;
Install fans with the smart tech built in. These would be new or replacement models that can be controlled by a smartphone app, integrate with other smart devices, or connect to a voice assistant like Alexa.
Add a smart controller to your existing ceiling fans. This would typically be an add-on piece of hardware that gets wired into the fan itself to be able to control the motor wirelessly.
Replace your fan wall control with a smart version. Some people use a basic smart switch to do this, but you lose the ability to control the fan speed. Dedicated smart fan controllers can give you the normal control experience, with the integration of a fully smart fan at potentially less cost.
This article will look at options for the first type, going with a fully smart fan from the outset.
Hub or no hub?
Like other smart devices, some brands have opted to use an intermediary device to provide smart control, or just some aspects of it such as smart home integration features. This can be OK, but is normally only beneficial for devices that are not hard wired to the house and need to use a lower power communication method.
For simplicity it’s better to look at smart fans that just use normal WiFi, as this opens up your options for how to control them.
Voice assistant and integration options
If you’re going for a smart ceiling fan, you’ll want to get the most value out of it by connecting it to other smart tech you have, or are planning to have. The supported options vary by model, so you’ll want to check for those.
Voice assistants will give you another convenient way to control your fans, but integration with a smart home platform will deliver the best options in terms of automation, and therefore energy efficiency.
Being able to define rules that are related to who is at home, temperature and weather conditions, and the state of other aspects of the home, like thermostats and doors, enables a wide range of intelligent and autonomous control that ensures the fans only run when it makes sense.
Does it wobble?
No one likes noisy fans, or those that wobble and make repetitive sounds. It just gives a cheap feel to the room, and can get on your nerves.
Good quality fans will be factory balanced to ensure they don’t do this, and it’s something people assume won’t be an issue and easily overlook when choosing a brand to go with. Check the manufacturers claims and the customer reviews to have the best chance of avoiding this issue up front.
The Wrap Up
When it comes to buying a smart ceiling fan for your smart home, it’s not just about picking one that is compatible with you home automation system. It’s just as important to consider the normal factors of noise levels and airflow capacity.
While they don’t offer the most diverse range of integrations, Big Ass Fans have delivered a high quality, well designed product with their Haiku L range that still gives you either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa control, and the automation rules each platform can provide. This covers the majority of the smart home market right now, but it does leave HomeKit and SmartThings users out in the cold.
If you want a better range of integration options, then Minka Aire has you covered with a good range of models that will meet most requirements, although they do favor the larger sizes. They’re also factory balanced and reasonable quality at somewhat lower prices than Big Ass Fans.
For those platforms, you can look to the Hunter and Modern Forms fans for decent options. Each of these brands provide decent fan models with quiet operation, but each with their own app issues. Even so, we’re still a bit constrained for choice, and once set up on your smart platform of choice you should get reasonably good performance as the issues tend to revolve around the device makers own apps.