How to Install a Ceiling Fan in 7 Simple Steps

Safety Considerations for a Ceiling Fan Box Install

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whenever electricity and ladders are involved in a project, safety is of the utmost importance. To limit risks and prevent injury when replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan, follow these ceiling fan wiring safety precautions.

  • Always turn off the power source at the breaker box before starting a project that involves home wiring. Then, check that any wall switches are in the “off” position, but do not rely on just a wall switch for turning off the power as it presents some degree of risk.
  • Always double-check that the wires are not live. While the electrical power to a switch or outlet can be turned off at the breaker box, it’s important to then use a voltage tester to make sure the breaker box was labeled correctly.
  • When working on a ladder, make sure it is placed away from door openings and is placed on a secure and level surface.
  • Keep your hips centered within the ladder frame when on a ladder, and climb down to move the ladder if something is beyond your reach.

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Final Thoughts

Replacing a ceiling light with a new ceiling fan is a fairly easy DIY project. After selecting the new ceiling fan based on the room’s size and design preferences, and then gathering all of the needed supplies and tools, it’s an interior design update that can typically be completed in an afternoon.

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Step 2: Tighten Brace and Bolt

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Tighten the brace with a wrench or groove-joint pliers. Attach the U-bolt to the brace and slide the box up through it. Tighten the nuts.

What You Need

  • Ladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Pry bar
  • Utility knife
  • Flashlight
  • Wrench or groove-joint pliers
  • Perhaps a reciprocating saw
  • Fan-rated box
  • Box brace

Assemble the fan and hang it

Insert the correct size downrod

Place the motor right side up, thread the wire thr

Place the motor right side up, thread the wire through the downrod and insert the downrod into the mounting collar.

Do you need an electrician to install a ceiling fan?

If you’re installing a ceiling fan where no previous wiring is present, that’s where the issues come into play. You’ll need the help of a licensed electrician to ensure your safety and to comply with building codes.

Step 3: Wire your new fan

Once the downrod is securely fitted into the bracket, you can connect the wires in the ceiling to the fan’s wiring. Your new fan should come with wire caps that help connect the wires. Be sure to check both the fan’s installation manual and the labels on the ceiling wires so that you’re connecting the wires in the fan to the appropriate wires in the ceiling. You may need to use a wire stripper to expose wires before connecting them.

Wires that need to be connected include:

  • A hot wire (often black), which connects to the home’s supply wire
  • A ground wire (often green), which connects with the home’s copper ground wire
  • A neutral wire (often white), which connects with the home’s neutral wire

If your fan is equipped with lights, it will include a striped or blue wire that will also need to be connected with the home’s supply wire.

Gather any hanging wires and insert them into the ceiling’s junction box before moving the fan’s canopy up and attaching it to the mounting bracket with the provided screws.

How to Install a Ceiling Fan

1. Remove the Existing Light Fixture

  • Make sure electricity to circuit is turned off and carefully remove the glass shade or globe from the old light fixture.
  • Unscrew the retaining nut or screws that hold the fixture to the ceiling.
  • Lower the fixture and disconnect the wires by twisting off the plastic connectors from the ends of the wires.

2. Remove Box and Cut New Hole

  • Remove the old electrical box from the ceiling. If it’s nailed to a joist, pry it free with a flat bar. If it’s suspended from a bar, you may have to take off a metal plate to unscrew the box; then pry the bar from the joists.
  • Hold a 1/2-inch-thick pancake box against the ceiling, centered on a joist, and trace around it with a pencil.
  • Cut along the line with a drywall saw.

Tip: Hold a vacuum cleaner wand next to the saw to catch the dust.

3. Attach New Electrical Box

  • Feed the electrical cable coming from the ceiling through the knockout hole in the pancake box. (Be sure there’s a cable connector attached to the knockout hole.)
  • Set the box into the hole cut through the ceiling and press it tight against the underside of the joist.
  • Attach the box to the joist with the two 1 1/2-inch No. 10 hex-head screws provided. Drive in the screws with a drill/driver equipped with a 5/16-inch nut-driver tip.
  • Wrap the cable’s bare copper wire around the grounding screw inside the box. Allow the wire end to hang down.

4. Glue on the Ceiling Medallion

  • Apply a small bead of urethane-based adhesive to the back of the ceiling medallion.
  • Pass the wires through the medallion (above).
  • Center the medallion on the pancake box and press. Fasten it with four 6d finishing nails driven into the joist.
  • Set the nailheads and fill with caulk or spackle.

5. Mount the Ceiling Plate

  • Hold the fan’s metal ceiling plate up to the pancake box and pull the wires through its center hole.
  • Attach the ceiling plate to the box with two 1 1/2-inch-long 10-32 machine screws.

Tip: If you’re going to paint the medallion, do it before installing the ceiling plate.

6. Assemble the Fan Components

  • With the fan on the floor, feed the wires coming from the motor through the center of the canopy. Set the canopy on top of the motor.
  • Next, pass the wires through the hollow down-rod pipe.
  • Thread the down-rod pipe into the top of the motor. Use a wrench to tighten the square-head locking screw on the side of the pipe.

Tip: The pipe’s threads have a factory-applied coating. Don’t remove this coating; it keeps the pipe from unscrewing.

7. Make the Wire Connections

  • Hook one side of the canopy onto the ceiling plate.
  • Using twist-on wire connectors, join the two green wires to the bare copper wire coming from the cable. (If your room is wired differently from the one shown here, consult a licensed electrician.)
  • Join the two white wires.
  • Then connect the two black wires.
  • Swing the fan up into position against the medallion and secure it with the two canopy screws.

8. Attach the Blades and Lights

  • Attach each fan blade to a blade iron (the bracket that holds the blade to the fan). Then, fasten the blade irons to the motor with the screws provided.
  • Plug the fan’s light-fixture housing into the wire hanging from the underside of the fan’s motor.
  • Install the shades and lightbulbs.
  • Screw the plastic holder for the remote control to the wall beside the wall switch.

Choosing Where to Install Your Ceiling Fan

The two big questions you must answer before installing a ceiling fan are where you want to install it and how you’ll be supplying power to that location. Factors to consider will vary depending on if you’re installing a new fan, replacing an old one, or retrofitting an old light fixture.

  • Existing Fans or Retrofit: If you’re replacing an existing fan or light fixture, your decision on where to install your new fan is easy. You’ll want to carefully disassemble the fixture, beginning with light bulbs and decorative glass. Remove the screws holding the light fixture to the electrical box, then disconnect the plastic wiring connectors to remove the fixture completely. If you’re lucky, the electrical box will be installed directly to a ceiling joist. That means you’ll be able to bracket your fan to the joist to give it the support it needs. If the electrical box is installed between two joists, you’ll need to install a support bar that is rated for fan support.
  • New Fan Installations: When installing a fan where no fixture exists, you have the same options for structural support: either bracket the fan directly to a ceiling joist or install a support bar between joists. The greater challenge will be choosing the best solution for supplying power, which is usually the method that requires the least amount of drywall cutting. With attic access to the installation site, homeowners who are experienced with electrical rewiring can route new wiring from any electrical access point in the attic. If there is no such access, wiring should be routed from the nearest outlet or switch, which is usually a wall switch in the room where the fan is being installed. This will often require one or more small holes to be cut in the drywall so that the wiring can be routed around corners.

Project details

Skill

1 out of 5 Easy Somewhat easy. It takes a bit of work to install a fan-approved electrical box, but the ceiling-fan assembly and installation are very straightforward.

Cost

$50 to over $350, depending on size and features of the ceiling fan

Stay Current with Direct Energy

When you sign up with an energy plan from Direct Energy, you’ll get tips and tools to stay informed about your energy usage and save on your bill.

That Was a Breeze

Your ceiling fan is installed and ready to use. (And we’re done subjecting you to horrible puns.)

Now you can enjoy circulating air, energy savings and an attractive addition to your home.

KEEP READING: How to Install a Window AC Unit

Connect the switch

Check and reset (if necessary) the code toggles on

Check and reset (if necessary) the code toggles on the wall-mounted electronic switch to match the ones on the receiver. Remove the existing wall switch and connect the two black wires on the new switch to the ones that were connected to the old switch with wire connectors. Screw the switch into the box and install the cover plate.

New electronic controls save you from running additional ceiling fan wiring

Since most fan installations are retrofits into existing electrical boxes, there’s usually a single electrical cable connecting the fixture to a single wall switch. You can leave the switch and use it to turn the fan on and off, then use the pull chains on the fan to control fan speed and lights. A second option is to install electronic controls. Higher-quality fans give you the option of adding a radio receiver kit. The receiver accepts signals from a special wall switch (included in the kit) to control the fan and light separately without additional wiring. The receiver also accepts signals from a handheld remote, so you can operate multiple fans and fine-tune fan speed and light intensity from your La-Z-Boy. Electronic switches are matched to fans by flipping code toggles in the controls and the fan, just like with your garage door opener. Installing an electronic switch (Photo 12) is a snap. The receiver drops right into the fan housing and plugs into the bottom of the motor.

If the old light is fed by two three-way switches instead of a single switch, the control options are a little more complicated. You have three choices:

  1. Leave the existing switches in place and turn one of them on. Then use a remote control to control the fan and lights.
  2. Use the existing switches and control the fan and lights independently with pull chains.
  3. Disable one of the three-way switches and rewire the other one to receive a wall-mounted electronic control. Sorting out all the wires is complex. You’ll need an electrician’s help for this.

Buying a Ceiling Fan

If you haven't walked under a large fan display ye

If you haven’t walked under a large fan display yet, hold onto your hat. You’ll be overwhelmed by the selection of colors, styles and accessories, especially if you visit a ceiling fan store. If you intend to use your fan regularly, invest in a high quality model. You’ll get a quieter, more efficient, more durable unit. If you spend beyond that amount, you’re usually paying for light packages, radio-actuated remote and wall controls, style, and design (fancier motor castings, inlays, blade adornments or glasswork). If you spend less, you’re likely to get a less efficient, less durable, noisier unit with fewer color, blade and electronic choices.

Choose the blade diameter that best suits the room visually and make sure the unit will fit under the ceiling without jeopardizing beehive hairdos. Bigger rooms call for wider fan blade diameters. The bigger fan will not only look better but also move more air.

Most ceiling fans are designed for heated, enclosed spaces. If you’re putting a fan in a screen room, a gazebo or other damp area, the building code requires you to use a “damp-rated” fan. These fans have corrosion-resistant stainless steel or plastic parts that can stand up to high humidity and condensation. If you live in a coastal area with corrosive sea air, or if you’re putting a fan in a particularly wet environment like a greenhouse or an enclosed pool area, you should choose a “wet-rated” fan.

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