Ceiling fans are a contentious topic. Blacklisted by designers for being noisy, tacky and outdated, they're often the first thing to go in a home renovation and a cause for debate in divided households in which one party wants circulation and one wants style.

Don't sweat it. Ceiling fans are smarter, sleeker and quieter than ever. If you're in the market for one and starting from scratch, here are some handy guidelines to picking the best one.

1. Determine whether you need a flush-mount fan or one that uses a down rod. Flush-mount fans are best for low ceilings because they can be secured right to the ceiling, while down rods are designed for higher ceilings.

The American Lighting Association recommends ceiling fans be hung between seven and nine feet from the floor to ensure safety and optimal airflow. Measuring down rods can be tricky, so check online buying guides for length recommendations.

2. Decide what size fan you need. Fan blades generally range from 29 to 54 inches, with most measuring 52 inches. If the room's longest wall is less than 12 feet, the fan shouldn't be more than 36 inches wide — but if you are unsure, check the retailer's website for sizing recommendations. Most ceiling fans have between three and five blades.

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3. Don't want to invest in a new fan? Try making smaller cosmetic upgrades to their existing fan, such as switching out heavy, dark blades with white ones that blend into the ceiling or removing the light kit as a temporary fix.

4. Picking the right style of ceiling fan can be tough, but brands and retailers have made it easy to shop based on your taste and space. 

5. What about installation? Proficient DIYers may want to do it themselves. Or skip the mess of wires and ladders, hire an electrician or handyman. 

Source: Associated Press 

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