An outdoor ceiling fan is one that is rated for outdoor use. The “outdoor” rating comes from Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). Ceiling fans are either UL Listed as “damp location” rated or “wet location” rated. Besides the UL Listing for the ceiling fans, there are also different blade types and motor finishes to consider.
Both types of UL ratings are designed to be exposed to the elements without the risk of electric shock or fire. However, damp location ceiling fans are NOT designed to come into direct contact with water. Wet location ceiling fans CAN handle direct contact with water from things like rain, sea mist, pool water, and even a garden hose. UL wet rated ceiling fans are sealed with silicon. This silicon seal does not make the fans waterproof which is why you should never pressure wash any ceiling fan, regardless of rating.
In addition to UL listings, outdoor ceiling fans will have some form of weather resistant blades. Usually these blades are made out of plastic, or some more durable plastic polymer like ABS plastic. Some other materials that can be used for outdoor blades include treated wood, canvas, vinyl, and denim.
Outdoor ceiling fan motor housings also come with different protective features to help protect against weathering. The type of paint used can make a huge difference on how long the finish holds up. All of Dans Ceiling Fans use an electrostatic powder paint finish to help ensure longevity. Some outdoor celing fans, like the Raindance and Patio Fan, have a special galvanized undercoat which help it to resist rust better. Other fans, like the Centurion and the Ovation, have housings made out of poly-resin. These types of housings are virtually rust-proof. The Luna outdoor ceiling fan has an aluminum housing. The metal aluminum succumbs far slower than steel to oxidation, which is white in color.
When choosing an outdoor ceiling fan exposure to the elements and airflow should be primary considerations. Even though an outdoor ceiling fan is in a covered lanai, it is still exposed to things like humidity and heat. Whenever a fan is not within an air conditioned space, an outdoor rated ceiling fan should be considered necessary.