Your questions about used ceiling fans:
1. Currently the vast majority of used ceiling fans sell for little or nothing. There are some exceptions to this rule. First of all, Casablanca ceiling fans from 1980 to current hold their value and usually resell for fair prices. In the past this has been true even of non-working fans, however replacement parts are becoming harder to find and so fans in need of repair are losing value as well. Second of all, cast iron ceiling fans such as older Hunter Originals have good resale value. Lastly, antique ceiling fans (pre-1950s) have been valuable for some time. These fans are also cast iron. As for fans that do not fall into these categories, the fancier and newer it looks, the better chance you will have of selling it. Showroom brands (Minka Air, Monte Carlo, etc) sell for more than home center brands (Hampton Bay, Hunter, etc). Non-working fans not falling into these categories have little or no resale value.
The most popular medium for selling used ceiling fans is online. If you determine the fan has value something based on the above criterion, or would like to give it a shot, place it on eBay with a starting bid in the $1-10 range. The final auction price will almost always meet or exceed the value of the fan, regardless of the low starting bid. Keep in mind selling on eBay you will have to disassemble and pack the fan carefully, and ship it at the buyer’s expense. If you want an easier sale for a lower price, or if you determine that the fan is worth very little, post it on Craigslist for $10-20. This usually works better for fans such as Hampton Bay, Harbor Breeze, and other lower-cost newer fans. Another option, if your fan has little or no value, you can donate it to a local Habitat for Humanity affiliate or other resale shop. Most non-profits offer tax deductions for donations. Lastly, the technicians of this site often buy used ceiling fans from the 1980s or older.
2. The best places to obtain used ceiling fans are eBay, Craigslist, and local resale shops such as Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity stores. On eBay you will have a better selection, seller accountability, and usually a better quality product, but you will be paying shipping and cannot inspect in person before purchase. Craigslist and resale shops are as-is sales, however you rarely pay more than $20 and may end up with a steal. Keep in mind buying a used ceiling fan, you are obtaining a project. Regardless of the seller’s claims do not expect it to be complete with every screw, etc. More than likely it will be missing a few small parts, require balancing, etc. Which brings us to:
3. Almost every used ceiling fan has some minor issues sellers and buyers need to be mindful of. First of all, in removal and disassembly, more often than not the mounting bracket that attaches the fan to the ceiling is lost in the shuffle. Sometimes this bracket is very standard and easily replaced, other times it is proprietary and renders the fan useless without it. See Ceiling Fan Parts. Blades and blade arms usually get bent slightly in removal and transit, so expect that any used fan will need careful balancing (see balancing instructions). Older fans sometimes need oil (see oiling section), especially those that are designed to be oiled on a regular basis. In most cases, the motor not spinning freely by hand is a sign of a fan needing oil. Check to be sure all pullchains are intact (see Pullchain Replacement instructions), if there are no visible pullchains does the fan require a remote or wall control, and is it included? (See Remote section and Controls section). Again, it is unlikely that every single screw will successfully make it’s way from one installation to another, to expect a trip or two to the local hardware store.
Often times you can end up with a better quality ceiling fan spending $50 used, than spending $100 new. Just keep in mind, it will be more a of a project than simply opening the box of a new fan from Menards.
As for sellers, you can usually profit at least a little gas money, if not a nice dinner out for the whole family. But the best return is knowing your discarded item is going to good use. There’s no point in throwing away something others can appreciate.