As a homeowner, you sometimes have to decide whether you want to use metal or plastic fan blades. Perhaps you have to decide on the type of blades to replace old existing blades in the HVAC system, or you want to purchase a loose fan or ceiling fan and have to decide whether the blades of the device should be metal or plastic. The two questions you might have are whether there are fundamental differences between the two types of blades and which type of blade is the most effective in moving the air and/or cool you down.
Metal and plastic fan blades have more similar characteristics than fundamental differences and what type of blade you use depends to a great extent on what you need them for. Although metal fan blades don’t make it cooler than plastic blades or vice versa, there are circumstances such as a moist environment or extreme temperatures where one type will be better than the other.
In this article, I’ll explain why one type of blade is not necessarily better than the other, but that the environment where the blades are needed and the type of work they have to do should be the criteria to determine whether you have to use metal or plastic fan blades. I’ll discuss this by looking at the characteristics, pros and cons of each type.
Are metal blades better than plastic?
The short answer is “no.”
Metal and plastic blades can, in most instances, be used interchangeably
In principle, not metal nor plastic fan blades are better than the other. The ability to move air or to cool you down doesn’t depend on whether the fan is using metal or plastic blades. The air-moving ability and cooling effect are determined by the blades’ size, the fan speed and the number of rotations, irrespective of whether the blades are made of metal or plastic. Generally speaking, metal and plastic blades can be used interchangeably.
Either metal or plastic blades can be utilized more effectively in some instances.
Although metal and plastic blades are very similar, there are small differences that make one type more effective than the other in specific environments. But it is important to remember that it can be either metal or plastic blades which will be better in a specific situation. Sometimes you’ll find that metal blades will be the better option, and other times plastic blades will be better.
Let’s start with metal blades.
Characteristics/pros of metal blades
Metal fan blades have certain characteristics which make them ideal for certain situations and environments. These pros and special circumstances include the following:
- Usually, metal blades are available in diameter from 2 inches up to 48 inches.
- Because of their size, metal blades are often preferred for larger fan systems.
- Metal blades are ideal for use in larger rooms with higher than normal ceiling heights.
- Metal fan blades can be painted, and sometimes, for aesthetic purposes, they have a galvalume finish, which is a coating of zinc, aluminum, and silicon.
- The paint or galvalume finish also adds additional protection to the metal’s surface and protects the metal blades from oxidation.
- Metal blades are suitable for environments where extreme temperatures are experienced.
- Metal blades are often preferred for high static pressure fan systems.
Cons of Metal Blades
There are also a few cons when you use metal blades which you have to keep in mind.
- Metal blades vibrate easily and the vibration can create loud and irritating noise.
- Apart from possible vibrating issues, metal blades are also likely to have balancing problems if not assembled very carefully.
- Metal blades – even if painted or having a galvalume finish – are likely to be influenced by corrosion over time.
- Because of the noise level of metal blades they are not recommended for areas such as bedrooms.
Now that you know more about metal fan blades, let’s discuss the characteristics, pros and cons of plastic blades.
Characteristics/pros of plastic fan blades
- Plastic fan blades are ideal for fans needing a smaller diameter size because they are usually available in sizes from 2 1/2 inches to 8 inches.
- Plastic fan blades are suitable to use in low static pressure applications and environments.
- The blades are designed to give optimum airflow.
- The plastic for the blades is often colored for aesthetic reasons.
- The plastic blades are also often treated to enhance their UV protection and to give corrosion resistance.
- Because the color is impregnated in the material and not painted on, there is less fading or wear to it.
- Plastic fan blades are lightweight and that prolongs the life of the fan’s motors and bearings.
- Because plastic blades are lightweight a fan with plastic blades requires a less powerful motor.
- Plastic blades have a low noise level.
Cons of Plastic Fan Blade
- Plastic fan blades are often only manufactured for smaller fan blade diameters
- Plastic blades are not suitable for high static pressures.
- They are not suitable for extreme temperature environments.
What to take into consideration when considering the type of blades you need
As I’ve explained earlier in this article, one type of blade is not overall better than the other. It is more a matter of which type will suit the situation and environment where they will function better. To help you to decide whether you have to use metal or plastic fan blades, I’ve listed a few things you can consider before you decide.
- Determine and evaluate the static pressures needed.
- The type of environment in which the fan blades will be working can be the decisive factor. To make the right choice you have to determine whether there
- is a possibility of corrosion,
- are other wear-and-tear elements in the environment,
- are moisture, ice, or saltwater present,
- is a possibility of extreme temperatures.
I hope that the information offered in this article will help you when you have to decide whether you have to purchase and use metal or plastic fan blades.
The bottom line is that although there are few differences between the two types of blades, the small differences might make one type more suitable than the other in specific circumstances and environments. Thus, one type is not better than the other – only sometimes more suitable for a specific function than the other.