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Buying a Squirrel Cage Fan

Updated on February 23, 2014

Squirrel cage fan or Squirrel-cage fan is another word for what is technically called a centrifugal fan. It is used to move air out of a building or other area that needs ventilation.

The fan gets the nickname of squirrel cage fan because of the way it looks. It resembles a hamster wheel. Why it is not called a hamster cage fan is beyond me, but who’s to argue with contractors.

How Does it Work?

It works very much like an exhaust fan does, except that the outgoing air that flows from the fan leaves at a 90 degree angle. This will allow the fan to be used in scenarios where a traditional exhaust fan would ventilate to an inconvenient location or angle. Also, the different direction of the ventilation enables the fan to maintain increased acceleration which can help when the fan is used in situations that require pressurization. This is the reason that squirrel cage fans are used so often in household heating and cooling systems or to clean the air in industrial situations.

Other Uses for Squirrel Cage Fans

These fans are commonly used in greenhouses or in indoor grow rooms. This is because having adequate ventilation is vital for plant growth, particularly with certain types of plants that require plenty of fresh air or produce scent that needs to be diverted. Many growers consider squirrel cage fans to be the best option for this job. Other fans that can offer good results include whisper fans and inline fans, but neither can compare to the power and flexibility a centrifugal fan offers. These fans can also be found in airplanes, cars and are a common part of industrial strength dehumidifiers.

Airflow Ratios and Wheel Designs

Squirrel cages also offer a variety of different types of wheel designs.  The F-wheel is the wheel that has curved forward blades and the T-wheel has straight blades in a radial shape.  B-wheels have blades that curve backward while P-wheels have straight facing backward blades.  Each of the differing blade types has a different level of air flow that is output.  The forward blades offer the highest level of airflow while backward blades the least.  The other options offer a moderate to high flow.

Where to Buy a Squirrel Cage Fan

You can normally find a small selection of squirrel cage fans at the home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes, but the biggest variety are available online.  The selection at is unmatched, and they offer discounted or free shipping and you can feel confident you are purchasing from a reputable company.


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      Frank 6 years ago

      The heating squirrel cage fan in my furnace sucks air from the bottom up through the filter. When I replaced the motor it now reverses the process. It now picks up air on both sides of the housing and blows back through the filter in the wrong direction? If I revers the polarity it makes no difference. It still blows back through the filter. What happened? How do I get the air pickup to come up through the filter?