Ceiling fan or hanging lights over kitchen island (when to use which) ?

Ceiling fan or hanging lights over kitchen island (when to use which) ?

Over the kitchen island many light sources can be used i.e. ceiling fan with LED, hanging light fixtures like (pendant lights and chandelier). Whether to use a Ceiling fan or hanging lights depends upon various factors like ventilation in kitchen, lighitng requirement of kitchen, size of kitchen island itself, architecture of the kitchen etc. Let’s discuss every aspect in detail.

When the kitchen is lacking in ventilation, ceiling fan should be installed over the island otherwise pendant lights should be preferred.

A kitchen with no hanging lights on the ceiling as well as is in a separate room dedicated for kitchen, a ceiling fan can be installed over the island whereas in an open floor plan kitchen, a ceiling fan cannot be installed over the island. Instead a haning light fixture is suitable for open floor kitchen.

When to use a ceiling fan over kitchen island

A ceiling fan over kitchen island can be used when:

  1. The kitchen is a separate room

2. there are no other hanging luminaries in kitchen

3. The kitchen is not ventillated properly.

An open floor plan is very common architecture in homes, however it is only when the kitchen is a separate room a ceiling fan can be used over the island. When kitchen is with the living room i.e in an open floor type design, the correct placement of ceiling fan is over the table near the couches.

Further from a design perspective, having two ceiling fan in a same room does not look pleasant. That’s why the kitchen should be separate from the living area in order for a ceiling fan to be installed over the island.

When there are very few recessed lights on the ceiling, and no other hanging light fixture is used in the kitchen, then a ceiling fan with LED can be installed over the island. (details of how to space recessed lights and ceiling fan can be found here)

An 18 watt LED of the ceiling fan can provide illumination of around 1800 lumens. Most ceiling fans with LED have LED greater than 18 watts making them appropriate to illuminate the kitchen island as well as spread light throughout the kitchen making it more bright.

The purpose of ceiling fan is to create air flow. A kitchen which is not ventilated properly due to the absence of windows, again a ceiling fan can be used over the kitchen island.

Every luminary that is installed must be in line with the aesthetic aspect of design i.e the luminaries should enhance the look of a particular room. When ceiling fan is installed over the kitchen island, depending over the size of kitchen island, the size of ceiling fan should be matched accordingly.

Tip : For a gemoterically balanced look avoid using ceiling fans in the kitchen in which the lenght of kitchen island is greater than 6 feet

when to use a hanging light over kitchen island

A hanging light fixture over the kitchen island can be used when :

  1. kitchen is an open floor type
  2. there is only sink on the island and no gas burners.
  3. General lighting is sufficient done and task lighting is required in the kitchen

A kitchen in open floor plan if have an island then even if there are other hanging light fixtures in the living area, a hanging light fixture can also be installed over the island. The reason is the visual perception of open space provided by open floor design.

Even if multiple light fixtures are used, the large space of open floor plan helps to accommodate them elegantly.

(Read this post to know how many hanging light fixtures are too many)

If there is a gas stove or cooking apparatus over the island then it is a good practice to install a chimney with LED lights installed within over the island.

If there is sink on the island then hanging light fixtures can be installed over it.

Pendant lights with shades cast light downwards at a specific spot. This makes them ideal to illuminate the task area over the island. Regardless of the length of the kitchen island, pendant lights can be installed in different configurations.

What size ceiling fan over kitchen island

For a traditinal ceiling fan with blades extended, the size of ceiling fan over the island should not exceed the length of the kitchen island. Below is a table that shows what sie ceiling fan is suitable for a kitchen island of a particular length.

Kitchen island lengthceiling fan size
4 ft36 inches
5 ft46 – 48 inches
6 ft50 – 56

For modern ceiling fans with blades enclosed the sizing is

There is also another factor that should be considered while choosing the correct size of ceiling fan for kitchen island and that is the positioning of recessed lights over the ceiling.

The recessed lights should not come in the way while the ceiling fan rotates otherwise a different effect takes place. (read more here)

Whether to use a traditonal ceiling fan or a modern ceiling fan is more of a personal choice but however there are still some factors that can play a important role in determining the type of ceiling fan to be used.

For instance if the kitchen has a valuted ceiling a modern ceiling fan cannot be used over the island. Only on the flat ceilings, a modern ceiling fan is suitable. Whereas a traditional ceiling fan with rod can easily be used in a kitchen regardless of the shape of the ceiling.

The height of the ceiling should also be considered whether a ceiling fan with rod and blades extended or a modern ceiling fan without rods and blades enclosed is to be used. Modern ceiling fans are space savers which makes them excellent for tight spaces.

How many blades of ceiling fan

Ceiling fans can have 2, 3, 4, 5 or more blades. A ceiling fan with 2 blades creates the least amount of load on the motor. However, when in stationary position, the appearance that it gives is not as pleasant as the ceiling fans with 3 or 5 blades provides.

Compared to a ceiling fan with 3 blades and 4 blades, the ceiling fan with 4 blades has more load on the motor. As more blades creates more drag with the air which ultimatley puts a lot of stress on the motor.

To counter this either the motor should be powerful enough or 3 blade fans should be used.

Which ceiling fan creates the most noise ?

As per expert advice, when there are more blades on ceiling fan, the airflow is more uniform. A ceiling fan with 2 blades creates the most noise (helicopter like chopping sound of the air). whereas a ceiling fan with 5 blades creates the least amount of noise.

The bottom line, therefore, is to choose a ceiling fan with an optimum number of blades that creates less drag in the noise and puts less load on the motor and looks visually appealing. Hence, a ceiling fan with either 3 or 4 blades should be preferred over the kitchen island.

Modern ceiling fans however are exception to this. They are designes in a way that creates the least noise while maintaining proper air flow at a desired location.

Can chandelier be used over kitchen island

A chandelier can indeed be used to illuminate a kitchen island. For modern kitchens, modern contemporary chandeliers not only looks elegant but also provides a wide distribution of light unlike pendant lights where light is manily focused downwards.

It should be noted that chandeliers also comes in various sizes. The size of the chandelier therefore should compliment the size kitchen island as well as should not impair task that are performed on the kitchen island.

For that the chandelier should be installed at proper height from the island.


Pendant lights are the trend in lighting design and are used in almost every kitchen. A ceiling fan with LED adds extra functionality of air flow which pendant lights cannot provide.

Therefore, use LED ceiling fan only when air flow is required in kitchen. However if the kitchen is properly ventilated there is no point of using a ceiling fan to illuminate the kitchen island. Also if the kitchen is in open floor plan avoid using ceiling fan ton illuminate the island.

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