|The Home of the DIY Handyman: How to install and wire a ceiling fan
DIY Difficulty (1 easy-10 difficult) 5
Time to completion: 1-1 1/2 hours
Material cost: All parts are included with a fan kit. $75 -200
Labor and misc. parts $ 75-110
TOTAL $ 150-310
A ceiling fan is a nice addition to most rooms. In addition to an
attractive fixture they allow the are in a room to circulate. A fan
reduces hot spots and mixes air to provide pleasant comfort for
Here at Housecalls Home Services we install fans year round.
Today I will talk about a recent job for one of our customers.
The fan is a basic 5-blade fan with a light kit. Nothing
complicated or fancy about it. This project had a ceiling light so
there was no additional electrical work. In future articles I will
discuss how to add a ceiling fan work box where one does not
exist. Before you proceed with the ceiling fan installation it is
important to make sure the existing ceiling box is properly
Remove the existing ceiling fixture. There are three wires you
will be concerned with; the black (red) which is the hot wire.
The work box to the left is adequate for this application. In
some cases you may have to swap out the existing work box
for one that can support the weight of a fan. There are many
types of fan-approved work boxes. Basically the work box
should be tight and not wobbly. If you suspect the box may not
be adequate my suggestion is to take a photograph of your
existing box and show it to the clerk at the hardware store or
electrical supply. Someone there can show you the proper box.
Whether I am installing a ceiling fan, unassembled furniture or
anything with many parts it pays to organize ahead of time.
Once the parts are laid out on a table or the floor it is easy to
determine if anything is missing or broken. If everything checks
it is much easier to complete the assembly. There have been
times I skipped this step only to find I had to undo everything
because I had missed a part early in the assembly.
Anything that can be assembled off the ladder is a time saver
and physically easier. Sometimes a fan kit will have very tiny
screws or other parts. Standing on a ladder and attempting to
the screw if you want to see it disappear forever. It is amazing
how a dropped screw can cause so much frustration.
Sometimes a customer has not a tidy home and sniffing
around on the floor for the lost piece becomes a health hazard.
In times like these the screw is a goner. Unless I have another
part (usually never) it is time to become creative.
Fan blades easily attach to the brackets with screws and
washers. Most kits allow for one extra of a screw and a washer,
just in case.
Install the main bracket. Fan kits usually always include the
machined screws to tap the large bracket to the electrical work
box. If you organized your project ahead of time you can easily
find the only screws that will work properly.
The screws have to thread properly and should not be forced or
stripped. The main bracket should be tight to the ceiling. Once
installed give a sharp tug to the bracket to make sure it is firm. It
also must be installed level, otherwise there is a risk of the fan
not functioning properly.
The electric wires should be threaded through the hole in the
bracket and not on the outside.
On the main bracket is a hook. The hook is to hang the motor
housing. Note that the fan blades are not installed at this time.
It would be cumbersome to complete the assembly with the
Once the motor housing is installed it is a matter of connecting
the wires. If the work box has a separate wire each for the light
and the blades the wires on the fan will be clearly marked. It
doesn't matter which of the wires to use (not the green or
white), usually black or red. If a simmer switch is present then
this is best for the light. A typical dimmer cannot effectively
handle the load of a fans motor. There are specialty switched to
vary the speed of the fan blades and most supply houses will
carry an assortment.
Tighten the wires securely with the wire nuts and give a slight
tug to make sure the wires are securely tightened.
Once complete push the assembled wires through the central
hole and raise the motor housing through the bolts and tighten.
Test for operation. You do not want to have your fan completely
installed only to find a wire nut is loose. If the fan goes on,
check the speeds. Then check the light.
Install the shroud over the motor housing. Install the fan
blades. Install the light kit.
The direction of the fan is used to pull air off the ceiling or to pull
air up towards the ceiling. Personally I don't think it really
matters which direction the fan rotates. However, if you enjoy
the feel of the air moving around you then flip the button to the
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switch. However, all the install manuals suggest to turn off