The difference between a high-volume, low-speed fan and a residential fan

Are you looking for the ideal ceiling fan for your room? The choice can seem a little overwhelming, with many different types for home and business use. Let's make your buying journey easier by delving into the two main types of ceiling fans: HVLS and residential fans. Understanding the differences between these two types can help you make an informed decision and ensure you pick the right one for your space.

HVLS vs. residential fans: A quick comparison

HVLS stands for High-Volume, Low-Speed (HVLS) fans. As their name implies, these giants, measuring more than 7 feet across, gently stir a large amount of air at speeds of about 8 mph. They were originally crafted specifically for spacious environments such as factories and warehouses. However, with technological advancements, these mechanical wonders are now suitable for a range of settings. Today, you'll find these huge fans in commercial, industrial, and even residential settings.

On the flip side, we have residential fans. You'll often find these ones gracing the ceilings of living rooms, bedrooms, and dining areas. These compact, high-velocity wonders are experts at delivering small yet turbulent air currents.

So how do you decide which fan is best for your space? We'll break out each type's key differences and benefits, taking important factors like size, speed, and airflow direction into account.


HVLS ceiling fans have a diameter that ranges from 7 feet to a whopping 24 feet. Imagine a fan that can effectively cool an area equivalent to around half a football field! That's what an HVLS fan can do—cool spaces up to 20,000 square feet. This makes them a popular option for expansive warehouses with open bays and high demands of air exchange. HVLS fans can even cool places larger than 40,000 square feet. It's worth noting, though, that for optimal performance, these sizeable fans require a room with a minimum clearance of 10 ft. HVLS fans do indeed occupy a lot of space, but their superior cooling comfort is second to none.

Meanwhile, residential fans have a more modest blade span, varying from 3 to 6ft in diameter. These fans are perfectly suited for cozier environments and fit in all the different nooks and crannies of your house. However, the details of your location, such as its size and ceiling height, will ultimately define the exact dimensions of your fan.


It's the speed that sets apart the HVLS models from their residential counterparts. Despite their enormous size, HVLS ceiling fans operate more slowly. Their top speed caps at a moderate 200 revolutions per minute (RPM), with a minimum spin of 71 RPM.

Residential fans, on the other hand, may be modest, but they make up for it with their fast pace. They quickly accelerate to a zippy 230 RPM.


Thanks to their long blades, HVLS fans are the best in terms of airflow. They can move and circulate air well, especially in rooms with high ceilings.

Think of their mechanism as creating massive air columns descending to the floor and then billowing outwards in every direction. This creates a natural-like breeze that could drop the temperature by as much as 10 to 12 degrees.

Conversely, residential ceiling fans have a unique way of delivering airflow. Instead of the broad, sweeping motions of HVLS fans, they produce swift, fast-moving air directed straight down. Visualize a focused gust of wind that creates a chill effect in the room, making it feel between 8 and 10 degrees colder.

One crucial metric in comparing these two fans is the Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). This figure shows how much air a fan can move in a minute. For instance, a home fan with a 1-hp motor may produce about 29,000 CFM. Compare that to an HVLS fan with the same 1-hp motor, which can churn out a staggering 140,000 CFM.

This side-by-side comparison shows how a single HVLS ceiling fan can do the work of multiple similar-powered fans.

In the world of fans, size does matter. What matters is the Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). Hence, the bigger the CFM value, the more robust the performance. Simply put, a fan with a high CFM is a power player, delivering superior performance and efficiency.

If you want to know more about residential and HVLS fans, feel free to reach out to the AmeriWind customer service team.

Using an Ameriwind fan in the winter is a great way to save energy and money while providing a more comfortable environment for your employees. Contact us today at 610-987-0488 to learn more about how we can help you create a custom big fan solution for your space.