You can enjoy a cool breeze during those humid summer days and also reduce energy use in your home by installing a functional, decorative ceiling fan. They can even be used in the winter to gently pull heated air away from the ceiling where it tends to collect. Light kits can be added to increase the usefulness of many ceiling fans. A wide range of both fan and light kit styles is available, providing choices that will contribute to the beauty of any room.
Tools & Materials
Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.
- Ceiling Fan Mounting Kit
- Wire Connectors
- Downrod (Optional)
- Light Bulbs
- Ceiling Medallion (Optional)
- Electrical Tape
- Step Ladder
- Wire Cutters
- Electrical Tester
- Adjustable Wrench
- Safety Glasses
- Dust Mask
What Size Ceiling Fan Do You Need?
- Use a 36-inch diameter ceiling fan if the largest room dimension is 12 feet or less.
- Use a 42-inch diameter ceiling fan if the largest room dimension is 12 feet to 15 feet.
- Use a 52-inch diameter ceiling fan if the largest room dimension is 15 feet to 18 feet.
Prepare to Install Your Fan
To ensure that your fan is securely mounted to the ceiling and for your safety during installation, read all of the instructions packed with your fan. Since ceiling fans are usually used to replace existing light fixtures, the wiring to the fan should already be complete. Installation isn’t difficult and only requires that you pay attention to the instructions. If additional wiring must be done to install your fan and you aren’t familiar with wiring, consult a professional electrician. All wiring must conform to local and national codes.
When working with electricity always:
- Turn off the power.
- Test the wires to ensure the power is off.
- Lock the panel box, so no one can accidentally turn the power back on while you are working.
- Check with local authorities to see if a permit is required.
- Have your work checked by an inspector.
- Wear eye goggles and a dust mask.
- To avoid overloading the circuit, consult a licensed electrician.
Options for Mounting Your Ceiling Fan
Fan blades must be mounted at least 7 feet above the floor. For maximum efficiency, they shouldn’t have any obstruction within 24 inches of the blade tips.
An appropriate junction or outlet box securely attached to the building structure is required. Replace the old box with one labeled as approved for ceiling fans or ceiling-suspended paddle fan installation. The box and its support must be able to support the moving weight of the fan. Use the installation hardware recommended by the junction box manufacturer. Fans over 35 pounds, with or without accessories, require additional support independent of the outlet box.
Secure the new box to a brace between ceiling joists. If there isn’t a 2-by-4 wood brace between the joists but you have access to the framing through the attic, add a brace.
Otherwise, install an expandable metal ceiling-fan hanger bar. These may be positioned either from the attic or from below the ceiling, through the rough opening. Secure the box to the bracket with a U-bolt.
Installing the Mounting Bracket for Your Fan
Use the following steps to install the mounting bracket to support your fan.
Remove the fan motor screws. These screws will be used later to secure the blade arms to the motor.
Remove the mounting bracket from the fan canopy.
Secure the mounting bracket to the ceiling electrical box with mounting screws and lock washers. If the fan comes with a J-hook, install the mounting bracket with the J-hook toward the floor. The hook will support the weight of the fan motor housing for a hands-free wiring installation.
Pull the electrical wires through the center hole of the mounting bracket.
At this point, if you have a fan with a three-position mount, you’ll need to decide whether to use a close-mount or downrod installation. (Downrod installations are used for both standard and angled applications.)
Installing a Downrod for Your Fan
Use the following steps to install a downrod for your fan.
Install the downrod into the mount with the ball end toward the ceiling.
Thread the lead wires from the motor (black, white and blue) through both the canopy and downrod. Take extra care not to pull on the electrical wires.
Insert the downrod into the collar yoke and rotate until the holes match. Insert the connector pin through the holes, and secure with a cotter pin. Be careful not to damage or cut the fan wires. Bend the two legs of the cotter pin to ensure that the connector pin doesn’t slip out.
Affix the hanger and downrod to the motor assembly by tightening the setscrew on the side of the downrod. Some fans have two setscrews, while others have lock nuts for the setscrews.
Insert the ball into the hanger bracket. The tab opposite the hanger bracket opening should fit into the slot on the ball. Make the appropriate wire connections.
After the connections are made and the wires are carefully tucked into the outlet box, make sure the tab in the bottom of the hanger bracket is seated in the groove of the hanger ball. Slide the canopy up the hanger bracket and permanently attach it with the supplied screws.
Close-Mount Fan Installation
Some fans allow mounting without the use of a downrod. This type of mount places the fan closer to the ceiling.
Remove the larger screws and lock washers from the top of the decorative fan motor housing.
Secure the canopy to the housing using the same screws.
Hang the fan on the J-hook (if applicable) by using one of the holes at the top of the canopy.
Make the appropriate wire connections. After the connections are made and the wires are carefully tucked into the outlet box, remove the canopy from the J-hook on the mounting plate.
Permanently attach the canopy to the mounting plate with the provided screws.
Making Electrical Connections for Your Fan
Determine the hot and common wires by color: Black is hot for the fan; blue is hot for the light kit; white is common for the fan and light kit and green is ground. In all cases, make sure that all exposed wiring is secured inside the wire connectors. Once wiring is complete, gently push the wires into the electrical box.
Attaching Fan Blades
Attach the fan blades using the following steps.
Mount each blade bracket to a fan; blade using the screws and washers supplied. Start all screws before tightening, then tighten each. Repeat for the remaining blades.
Follow the same process to mount each blade / bracket assembly to the fan. Make sure all screws are tightened securely.
Adding a Light Kit to Your Fan
If your fan comes with a light kit, it may already be wired and in place, requiring only that you install the bulbs and globes. In some instances, however, you may need to wire the light kit yourself.
Remove the switch-housing cover plate from the fan.
Remove the plug from the center of the cover plate.
Feed the light kit wires (black and white) through the holes in the cover plate, and screw the plate tightly to the light kit to prevent it from vibrating loose.
Locate two wires within the switch housing labeled for light (white and blue). Connect them to the light kit wires with wire connectors — white to white and blue to black. Secure the connections with electrical tape to prevent the wire connectors from vibrating loose during operation.
Carefully push the wires back into the switch housing, and attach the light kit to the switch housing with the provided screws.