How to Hard Wire a Ceiling Fan
Depending on the existing wiring in a room, installing a ceiling fan can be a simple afternoon do-it-yourself project or a labor-intensive exercise that involves threading wires behind walls and ceilings, adding support brackets and wiring new electrical boxes and switches. Even in a “worst-case” situation, the work involved is something that nearly anyone can do.
Select the correct hardware for your project. Make sure that the brace bracket that will attach to the ceiling joists can support the fan. Make sure the electrical cable is appropriate for the circuit (usually no smaller than 12-gauge wire).
Unpack the fan and inspect the components. Warped or cracked fan blades will prevent the fan from balancing and will need to be replaced.
Turn off the power to the circuit.
Replacing a Fixture with a Fan
Remove the fixture and the existing electrical box.
Insert the brace bar through the existing hole, making sure it is perpendicular to the joists. Fasten the bar to the joists by twisting the ends until they are secure against the joists.
Pull the wires through the box and attach the box to the brace bar.
Attach the fan’s support bracket to the box and, following the manufacturer’s instructions, attach the wires to the fan. Attach the fan to the support bracket and install the fan blades.
Installing a New Fan and Switch
Cut a hole about 5 inches in diameter between two ceiling joists where the fan will hang.
At the source of the electrical power (usually an existing receptacle), remove the receptacle from its electrical box. Cut a hole where you plan to install the switch. The ideal place for the switch is directly above the power source.
Hang the brace bar as described above.
Cut a 1-inch-wide hole where the ceiling meets the wall above the switch to facilitate threading the cable from the power source to the switch and finally to the fan.
Thread fish tape from the ceiling-wall hole to the location of the fan. At the fan location, attach the wires to the end of the fish tape and pull the tape back to the hole. Remove the tape and drop the wire to the receptacle (not the switch). Feed another cable from the switch to the fan location.
At the power source box connect all of the black (hot) wires together. At the fan’s electrical box, connect the power source and switch black wires. Mark the switch-to-fan white wire with electrical tape at both ends and attach one end to the switch. At the fan junction, attach the marked white wire to the fan’s black wire and the unmarked white wire to the fan’s white wire.
Hang the fan according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- "The Big Book of Home How-To;" Better Homes and Gardens; 2003
- "The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement;" Black and Decker; 2009
- The fan should be chosen in proportion to the size of the room. For example, a 36-inch fan is appropriate for a 96-square-foot room, but is too small for anything larger.
- The fan should hang at least 7 feet above the floor and have 10-inch clearance from the ceiling. Do not install the fan closer than 18 inches to a wall.
Mark C. Gribben is a writer living near Columbus, Ohio who is a nationally recognized crime historian. Gribben earned his Master's degree in public administration from Michigan State University in 1998.
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