I'm interested in the technical reasons behind why an inexpensive ceiling fan in a home would hum, such that when in your bedroom above your bed on low speed is annoying.

Is there a better type of electrical motor to look for? My existing fan when new basically did not hum and was satisfactorily quiet at night when on low speed. Now ~5+ years later it is awful.

All I really know is it's a 120VAC brush less electric motor, can run on 3 speeds (low/med/hi).

What causes this kind of hum specifically? And is there a way to get a ceiling fan with a specific type of motor that would not be susceptible to a droning hum when on low speed?

  • \$\begingroup\$ There could be some non-electrical reasons why your fan could be humming, i.e. mechanical reasons. \$\endgroup\$
    – user103380
    May 4, 2020 at 2:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ See quora.com/What-causes-humming-in-an-AC-motor \$\endgroup\$
    – crj11
    May 4, 2020 at 3:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ i like that answer \$\endgroup\$
    – ron
    May 4, 2020 at 17:29

1 Answer 1



A few reasons for humming

One of the more obvious may be from friction or other forces. I see many times ceiling fans swinging back and forth when spinning, and these parts that stop the fan from swinging out of control may be rubbing, or bearings inside the fan may be rubbing harshly and creating noise.

Another could just be the motor, as most motors are definitely not silent.

Considering the fact you said it was cheap I would blame it on the bearings or rubbing of mechanical structure. But there could be a lot more reasons. If you are dead set on finding it out you can take it down and spin it manually and see if it makes noise. Bend it in different angles and speeds and see if it makes noise. If it doesn't then it may be the speeds it spinning at or its just the motor's sound while running

EDIT: Since you said it was old chances are there has been wear on the parts from rubbing and/or bearings and oil has been used up and it needs to be lubed up again

  • \$\begingroup\$ so when off if i spin it by hand, it is smooth and silent. only when electric motor is on is there a hum. \$\endgroup\$
    – ron
    May 4, 2020 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ron Yeah so then it is probably the motor. Brushed motors (maybe the one in your fan) tend to wear out after a while so it is possible that the sound of the humming can be a bad connection between the brushes and the rest of the motor. The motor could also have some friction or wear inside. Hope that helps. If I answered your question please accept my answer, thanks \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2020 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ i am pretty sure it is brushless \$\endgroup\$
    – ron
    May 4, 2020 at 20:34

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