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A fan of staying cool

August 05, 2004

KAREN WIGHT

August in Newport is a lot different than my childhood Augusts in

Riverside. When I start to complain about the heat, I give myself a

reality check. I flash back to 110 degrees in the shade, opening the

front door and feeling an oven-like burst of heat in my face, being

able to fry an egg on the sidewalk.

Our house was air-conditioned, and we were comfortable. Keeping

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things cool in the summer was paramount.

One summer, my mother had ceiling fans installed in every bedroom.

The idea was good -- better than the actual fans. They worked, kind

of. They wobbled and hummed, but they circulated the air. What was

the ceiling-fan downfall? They were ugly -- shiny white metal with

bright brass fittings. It was the best the 1970s had to offer. Since

then, I admit to being something of a ceiling fan snob. If it's

white, bright, makes noise and has dirt accumulated along the edges

of the blades, I'd rather swelter.

Now ceiling fans have entered the 21st century. Mechanically, they

are better-engineered -- not as many wiggles and noises.

Aesthetically, ceiling fans are now comely accessories. Although you

can probably still find white fans with polished brass hardware, why

would you want to? Fashion has hit the ceiling. You can choose from

oil-rubbed bronze, satin nickel, pewter, and textured bronze. Blades

come in hardwoods that are stained or painted every color in the

rainbow. Blades can be made with sea grass inserts or be large

reinforced palmetto leaves. You can have stainless steel,

powder-coated metal or mesh blades. You can mix and match metals and

woods. You can order fans with or without lights. The sky is the

limit. I recently perused a few ceiling fan websites and found some

fresh designs to give you plenty of reasons to cool off.

The Fanimation Ceiling Fan Company has introduced products that

bring a twist to the ceiling fan market. The "Punkah" is a length of

fans that simultaneously move back and forth. The length can expand

up to 36 feet with as many as nine blades on one motor. This fan is

cool, literally and figuratively. Fanimation has another innovative

design with its "Palisade" model. The Palisade has two sets of palm

leaves that rotate vertically instead of horizontally. It's the

perfect application for a very tall ceiling.

Casablanca Ceiling Fans has added several new designs to its

traditional upscale repertoire. The "Key Largo" fan has an oil-rubbed

bronze motor casing and five split bamboo blades. The "Marrakesh" is

a Moroccan design with three teak blades. It looks fancy and simple

at the same time. The "Moorea" combines dark walnut accents with sea

grass or rattan inserts. If you're trying to sell the idea of a

ceiling fan to the males in your home, add this perk -- Casablanca

ceiling fans have a remote-control option. You can turn it on, off

and regulate the speed from anywhere in the room.

Another extra? Fans now have a blade-rotation switch. By running

the blades counterclockwise in the summer, the fan creates a

downdraft effect that forces the lighter, hotter air to mix with the

lower, cooler air creating a lower room temperature. Running the

blades clockwise during the winter forces the hot air to recirculate

without creating a cooling effect. Think about that, a fan for all

seasons.

* KAREN WIGHT is a Newport Beach resident. Her column runs

Thursdays.

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