Our Philippine House Project – Fans in General and Ceiling Fans in Particular

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Our Philippine House Project – Ceiling Fans.

Fans have been an essential part of life and keeping cool in the tropics for hundreds of years and they still are unless you are willing to spend a fortune on electric bills to run air conditioning 24/7.


We were enamored with the idea of ceiling fans,  maybe because they were stylish.  After all, slowly revolving Casablanca-style ceiling fans are a fixture in every movie about the tropics.

When we first moved to the Philippines in 2006 we lived in rented apartments.  We bought three portable floor fans. We used these until we moved into our new house in 2010.  We looked forward to getting rid of the floor fans which we were constantly tripping over.

We did not do a great deal of research before buying our ceiling fans.  We should have done more.  The ceiling fans available in Iloilo were made by Hunter, Westinghouse and then various less expensive fans.  The Hunter and Westinghouse fans were similar with a traditional faux old-fashioned design having five wooden blades.  Some were hugely gaudy and festooned with lights.  The Hunter fans seemed to be the top quality available; at least they were the most expensive and appeared to be well made.  The Westinghouse fans seemed to imitate the Hunter designs, but at a lower price.

We saw a 10% off sale on Hunter fans and bought five fans, all the same.  Two were in stock and three more had to be shipped from Manila.  We selected an old-fashioned but subdued design in white called the Builder’s Select, Hunter model 24957.  They cost P7,650 each or about $170.00 (US) at the time.  A similar 120 volt fan is available from Hunter in the U.S. for about $90 including tax and shipping.  Unfortunately, this is pretty much the story on shopping for imported goods in the Philippines.  Other Hunter fans cost as much as P20,000 each.

We did not do a great deal of research before buying our ceiling fans.  We should have done more.  The ceiling fans available in Iloilo were made by Hunter, Westinghouse and then various less expensive commercial fans.  The Hunter and Westinghouse fans were similar with a traditional faux old-fashioned design having five wooden blades.  Some were hugely gaudy and festooned with lights.  The Hunter fans seemed to be the top quality available, at least they were the most expensive and appeared to be well made.  The Westinghouse fans seemed to imitate the Hunter designs, but at a lower price.

Hunter Builders Select 52" Ceiling Fan

$170 Hunter Builders Select 52″ Ceiling Fan

On the Philippine market, these Hunter fans are pretty much top of the heap.  It was eye-opening to see the much higher quality, higher output,higher efficiency fans available in the US from brands such as Emerson and Casablanca. Hanson Wholesale has a terrific and informative online catalog at http://www.hansenwholesale.com/ceilingfans/default.asp
Unfortunately, most of their fan offerings are 120 volt only.  This means buying fans in the U.S. and shipping them here in balikbayan boxes is really not feasible.
Deckenventilator has an excellent selection of 220v ceiling fans and ship worldwide.  The fans are mostly for 220v 50 cycle but our engineering expert John Thede Joergensen says using 50 cycle fans in a 60 cycle supply (such as the Philippines) is not a problem.  See his thoughts in the comment below.  Consider where you are going to get service and parts on an expensive imported ceiling fan.

If it not for our problems with our Hunter fans, if we were doing our shopping all over again, I’d take a look at the Hunter Osprey which is available in the Philippines.  The Osprey is an all metal fan in a modern design.  It offers high airflow, high electrical efficiency fan at a modest price.  It moves more air with less electricity than the traditional Victorian-look fans which are so popular and which we bought. For example the Hunter Savoy uses 70W and moves 14,500 cubic meters per hour.  The Osprey uses 80W and moves 20,000 m3h.   The 56″ Osprey is best suited to large rooms with high ceilings.   See http://www.hansenwholesale.com/ceilingfans/hunter/model.asp?ProdNo=28496 Westinghouse makes a similar industrial ceiling fan at a lower price.

Hunter Osprey Fan

Hunter Osprey Fan

Cost of operation. Using the calculator on the Hansen website, our 80 watt fan will cost about 75 centavos per hour or about nine pesos per day or P3285 per year running twelve hours per day.   The Osprey will cost about P500 per year less to operate and will move at least 25% more air than the Builders Select fans we bought.  Really efficient fans such as the 24 watt Emerson Eco ($449) move more air for much less cost.  The Eco uses 24 watts but moves more air than our 80 watt Hunter.  These calculations are based on the P9.5 per kilowatt hour charged by our electric cooperative.  This is equivalent to .22 cents (USD) per kilowatt hour.  The very high electric rates in the Philippines makes the efficiency of appliances well worth researching.
Emerson Midway Eco Fan - 24 watts, $449

Emerson Midway Eco Fan – 24 watts, $449

Installing the fans.

Hunter fans come with good quality mounting accessories intended for mounting to wood joists or to concrete.  Our Hardiflex ceilings are supported by welded angle bars. Anticipating the ceiling fans, we put a heavier (2″ x 2″) angle bar in the center of each room.  The Hunter mounting bracket is bolted to the angle bar making for a very secure mounting.  If mounted as-is, the fan would be about one foot below the ceiling.  Since our ceiling are 10′ high, the fan would be too high above the floor for good air circulation. Hunter sells “down rods” in various lengths to bring the fan further down.  Of course these are not easily available.  Fortunately these down roads are just 1/2″ iron plumbing pipe so we were able to buy 1/2″ x 12″ pipes (nipples) and use these to lower the fan an additional foot.  The pipe was painted white to match the fan.  The length of the supplied wiring harness was just long enough to allow the 12″ extension.   The mounted fan is about eight feet above the floor.

There are various options for controlling the fans; wireless remotes and wall mounted speed and reverse controls (at extra cost), but we just wired ours to a regular wall switch.  We felt we would never want to reverse the airflow to flow upward as one might do in cold climates, nor would we use the lower speeds.  When we turn our fans on they are in the downdraft rotation mode on high speed.

Bracket for Hunter ceiling fan bolted to angle bar joists

Bracket for Hunter ceiling fan bolted to angle bar joists

Hunter fan showing 12" down rod

Hunter fan showing 12″ down rod

Our Hunters are mid-range fans in terms of price, airflow and electrical efficiency.  The Hunter fans (made in China) seemed sturdy and well made. They have a number of features intended to reduce wobble and vibration.   They have a heavy steel motor casing, cast blade carriers, painted plywood blades and generally sturdy parts, but we do have a problem with the screws holding the blade mounting brackets to the motor assembly gradually loosening and making the fans noisy.  We have had to repeatedly tighten the screws on the fan in our bedroom.  We are concerned that eventually we may strip the threads. Thanks to a reader suggestion (below) we gave Loctite thread sealant a try.
April 7, 2013.  We were unable to find Loctite in Iloilo so we did our usual shopping on eBay and found someone in Singapore offering Loctite with free shipping to the Philippines.  We had to pay $16.00 plus about P75 customs duty.  I applied it liberally to the screws holding the blades to the motor assembly, tightened them up as much as I dared and let the Loctite set for 24 hours.  So far is good.  The fans are back to quiet operation.

The availability of parts and service should be a consideration when deciding on purchasing ceiling fans (or any other expensive items).  I was able to easily order parts for a $30 3-D brand floor fan but not so for a $170 Hunter ceiling fan.  Also keep in mind that taking down a ceiling fan for diagnosis and repair is a much bigger job that taking a floor or stand fan in to be repaired.

Four of our five Hunter fans failed in the first three years of use.  We contacted Hunter by email and never received a response.  After giving up on Hunter itself, we went back to the retailer we purchased the fans from, Handyman Hardware at Robinson’s Mall in Iloilo City.   First we had to prove that we bought the fans from Handyman.  Fortunately, I had scanned the sales receipt.  Otherwise, we’d be out of luck.  Like many merchants, Handyman used a thermal-type register receipt, just like to old thermal fax paper.  These can fade to invisibility in a short time leaving the purchaser with no way to prove the place or date of purchase.  Hence we scan such receipts and save them online.

Fortunately, they had the exact same fan in stock.  It has a lifetime motor warranty graphic right on the box which I was able to use as part of my case.  The manager asked me to bring in the while fan motor.  We already knew that the problem was not in the motor because we own five of the same model of fan.  When we tried the switch module from one of our other fans, it instantly solved the problem.  We convinced him to send just the switch module to Manila.  He asked that we pay P200 ($5.00) for the shipping.  We did so and in a couple of weeks we received a message that our part was in.  When we picked the switch module up, it appeared that they had just given us a replacement module, rather than repairing ours.  In any case we were grateful for this good service from Handyman and the Hunter distributor in Manila.  There was no cost for the repairs beyond the P200 shipping fee.  Now three more of the Hunter ceiling fans have failed and been repaired in the same way.  The repaired fans are running well after six years.

Just in case it might be of use to others, this is the address of the repair facility to which Handyman shipped our part.  From what we can garner online, NKD International Trading is a Philippine distributor for Black and Decker, Stanley, DeWalt and evidently Hunter Fans.

NKD Int’l c/o Mr. Michael

#10 Conseco St. San Francisco Del Monte

Quezon City (Metro Manila)

We  have air conditioning in two of our bedrooms, but still  fans run almost continuously. Supplementary fans are much more effective at circulating the cool air than are the fans in the air conditioning units.   Using fans plus air conditioning allows us to to set our air conditioners at a higher temperature.  Reportedly, each one degree Celsius of additional cooling uses 15% more energy.

Comments (26) Write a comment

  1. Our household GE ceiling fans still cranking good flow of air.
    Unfortunately our first floor fans that we own, before building our home, the on and off switch bit the dust.
    What I did was to purchase locally, a 2 step switch, and replace the old one. I had to do some minor modifications, in how to mount them, with a good drill, I sized 2 holes in the front to mount the switch knob and once finish, the fans were back in business.
    How much it cost me? 200 pesos….


  2. I have seen the fancy ceiling fans sometime with lighting and even some with remote controls. Mostly, those are for house decoration. You can fix it if you have aircond in the house and this fan will rotate slower then conventional one and is not effective. The down rod has to be a certain length so more volume of air can be propelled down. House with low ceiling can be a problem cos you may need a shorter rod and this will reduce the efficiency of the fan. Blades have to be cleaned once a while and you can feel a big different.

    Table fan or stand fan can be very useful too in hot days where the outdoor temp is usually lower then inside the house. The fans can be positioned in front of the windows to blow/suck the air from outside to the interior of the house. This is also true at night. But if you stay on the ground floor, make sure the windows are fix with iron grills….


  3. Bob

    We will be buying ceiling fans too.
    Where did you find the Midway eco fans or the Hunter Osprey fans?


    • Greg,

      I saw the Ospreys at one of the chain hardware stores in Iloilo City, Handyman perhaps. We had Handyman at Robinson’ Place Iloilo order our five fans from the Manila Hunter importer. The sales staff might know how to do special orders but the manager will. He is the one who has helped us get our Hunters repaired.



  4. Well all my fans are GE brand, knock in wood, No issues with them, Except I had to take them down to clean the dust inside. That was tedious and hazardous job, while having my 3 year old running around and asking ” Daddy was s That”?

    Finally,my wife step in, and took our daughter to her mothers house, while I finish the Job, Basically, she read my thoughts that day….
    4 hours later, I finish 3 fans, had 3 more to go for the next day, again my wife went to the mall that day with our daughter,


    • David,

      Thanks for your report on GE ceiling fans. We clean our fans in place. The dirt seems to accumulate on the blades and the top of the motor. There is a mesh screen protecting the top motor air vents. I can’t imagine taking the motor assembly apart to clean it. What a job that would be!



      • Bob

        I used a soft brush and vacuum to clean the inside, in the other hand was not the fan, but the overall take down procedure, is kind of a reverse engineering method, those those blades are cumbersome, too many pieces, basically, I had to draw a flow chart, piece by piece, where it went. The motor, are heavy.

        Once you warm up your blood and start sweating, and you have no distractions around you, you could focus on the job faster.


  5. My biggest problem is with floor fans. All the fans we bought failed after 18 months of use. I traced the failures to bushings that had used up all their lubricant. The motors have no oil holes so I had to disassemble them to add oil to the reservoirs around the bushings.

    When I checked the fans in the stores they all had bushings instead of bearings except for the ceiling fans. It looks like the manufacturers are willing to spend the extra dollar a sealed bearing costs them in a ceiling fan.


    • Peter,

      Maybe the brand matters. I have noticed that many commercial users buy Panasonic. I still see “National” brand stand fans in use. Matsushita phased out the National brand in 2004 and adopted the Panasonic brand name, so these fans have seen up to a decade of use. That said, there is a lot of junk out there. We bought three 3-D floor fans in 2006-08. Only one is still operational. That’s not to say 3-D is junk. It’s one of the better units. We got 5+ years out of a P1,300 fan.



  6. Hello Bob & Carol,

    Living in Pavia for a year and a half now, I’d like to share our fan experiences. After a stand fan failure which almost ended in a fire in the sleeping room at night, we went to Citi Hardware and bought three Westinghouse 52″ ceiling fans. One of them is a beautiful looking one called Eurostyle (Php 5700), the two others were a bit cheaper (Php 5200). We chose them because the first one was the only of its kind available. The Eurostyle is whispering silent, even in highspeed there is no motor noise at all, just the wind noise from the fan blades, which turns out to be soothing when going to sleep. The other two—even though their housing looks almost the same—are considerable hummers and wobblers at high speed, and I sort of regretted buying them, but obviously not enough to bring them back to Citi Hardware…
    Even though we’re living in a 2 storey concrete house with tin roof, we almost never need to run them faster than level 2 to achieve a decent air circulation in the room. Before we bought the ceiling fans, we also used to run stand fans, but actually I don’t like the direct horizontal blowing of air at all. I often got a stiff neck while working in front of my computer while the fan blows towards me. The ceiling fans don’t give me such a hard time.
    I did not notice an increase in power consumption after switching to ceiling fans, perhaps because they’re most times operating on slow speed. However, it is time for A/C now, at least in the most crucial rooms of the house. Our little one (3 mos.) has a hard time sleeping well at night, which is at least partially caused by the warmth. And I guess my work will turn out to be much more efficient than last summer with some decent cooling in the room.
    We will check out the combination of A/C and fan, either floor or ceiling, thanks for the tip.

    Warm(!) regards from Pavia,
    Willy & May Belle


    • Willy,

      Thanks for sharing your ceiling fan experiences. I think we may have gone a little overboard in criticizing ceiling fans. This was for two reasons. We was annoyed that we chose the wrong model, one of those old-timey-looking fans that really did not move enough air, and secondly that one of our expensive (p8,000) Hunter fans failed so quickly and getting repairs and parts was so problematic, as compared with getting parts and repairs on ordinary floor, desk and stand fans. We spent almost P40,000 on our Hunter fans and the idea that they would poop out after a few years was not a happy thought, especially compared to the ease with which we were able to order parts for our P1,300 3D floor fans

      We do agree that having a conventional fan blowing directly on you can be annoying compared to the overall, more gentle circulation of a ceiling fan. We’ll go back an revisit our ceiling fan post and try to be a little more balanced, Thanks again for your comments.

      Bob and Carol


  7. i agree ,you should try some loctite,i think it will sovle your problem about the loose blades.


  8. Bob and Carol,
    In regards to the loose bolts, the ceiling fan I recently purchased and installed in the states had some loctite on the threads (http://www.amazon.com/Loctite-38653-Purple-Strength-Thread/dp/B0002KKTT0/ref=pd_cp_hi_2). The Purple is the lowest strength incase you ever need to remove the blades or other mounting hardware and the blue is what they use to secure oil drain plugs on cars. Perhaps a buddy can send a tube your way thru the mail or next visit?

    Hope this helps,


  9. Enjoy your posts… I do have a question… Does anyone use a whole house fan in the Philippines… Seems that they would be good to get the heat out of the houses with a relatively low cost system… I am thinking of locating in Cebu and with the cost of electricity I need an efficient way to cool the house… I can remember when i lived in a house cooled by a whole house fan… Seems like it would be perfect in the tropics… Does anyone have any ideas??? Your help will be appreciated…


    • James, I have heard other foreigners talk about whole house fans for the Philippines but I’ve never seen them in stores here. However, there are lots of high output industrial fans available. Because it cools off so quickly, I agree that such a fan is well worth trying. Bob


  10. Hi, Bob–Liked the above article; very informative. I didn’t see a post on ceiling light fixtures. Is there a way to use U.S. ceiling lights in the Phils? Just like with ceiling fans, there are so many more choices here in the U.S. and at better prices than in the Phils. The Home Depot guys I talked to said there’s a way to do it but I thought I would check with you. Would appreciate your input on this.


    • Incandescent (not fluorescent) fixtures should work fine. You just need to use 220v incandescent or compact florescent bulbs with them. Any 120v fluorescent fixture which has a ballast is a problem.


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  12. Hello.

    Merry Christmas to you Bob and Carol.

    I read your thoughts about energy saving and other.
    I have comments to the importing issues.

    50HZ or 60HZ, it means that the rotationational field is 50 or 60 times a second. In a motor, the magnetic field is switched 50 or 60 times a second, but it make no difference in normal soft-iron motore, as they can deal with it. A very slightly higher loss in the iron is all, but the rotation field in a 3 pole / 3 line motor will be 20% higher, but as the fans are only 1 pole, and a “Shadow pole” the speed at 60Hz might not be that much more.
    The higher speed will give more air, and a higher consumption, but as long as the motor isn’t overloaded, its not a problem.

    Its a lot to save on energy between the mentioned fan’s. ??
    from Emerson ECO to hunter its a 2000 pesos a year in consumption, which in the end will pay the more expensive ECO models. Evens its on sale for 449$ in Hansens, again the hunter 107$. Give a pay – even time of 6 years.

    With regards.

    John Thede


  13. Hi Bob, its always worth planning for the bedrooms to be on the East facing walls, then the sun wakes you up but leaves the room at noontime.

    A fan also keeps the mosquitos away since they are poor fliers and don’t have stabilizers hoho

    Hope you and Carol have a nice Christmas in your new home, best wishes for the new year and may your vegetables Flourish.



  14. Bob, I find it admirable that you are making a strong attempt to live with out air conditioning. I have to admit that if it was me there would be air in the bedroom and perhaps another room that I spent a lot of time in. My air would run most likely every hour I was in that particular room. I am also sure that my electric bill would be high but its a luxury I think I would avail myself with. Merry Christmas.


    • Hi Ron, we are not martyrs! When we need air con to be comfortable, we’ll get it and use it. The wiring is all in and ready. The air con units are already researched and selected. Our house design will reduce but not eliminate the need for air con. I think we are just so enjoying having the construction over and living here that we are putting off further work (wardrobes, screens, aircon) to give ourselves a break. Best wishes — Bob and Carol


  15. Well, Bob, we’re over in nearby Guimaras and don’t have any ceiling fans installed yet. We did install an air con in our bedroom, however, this past April, as I just couldn’t take the heat anymore. Before that we were just using the oscillating fans that you mention.

    December is the best month for sleeping in the Philippines, at least in our region, and I usually don’t even need any fans during the day now. Looks like you have done a lot of research. Definitely will check out the ceiling fans, though. Thanks for the info.


    • Hi Dave, before we moved into our house we were in a very nice apartment, but it was so hot we had to use aircon in our bedroom almost every night. When we built the house we put in circuits for split aircon units. We’ll probably install at least one unit in a guest bedroom. We have a good friend who has emphysema who we want to come visit us. He could not survive here without aircon. As for our bedroom, we’re going to wait to see how comfortable we are without aircon. If we have to get a unit it will be a Panasonic inverter type split unit. We had Panasonic splits in our apartment and loved them. But even with aircon, ceiling fans can allow you to turn up the temperature on the aircon. In our apartment we used a fan plus the aircon set at 29 degrees. Regards Bob


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