Ceiling fan is a sustainable way to keep your home comfortable year-round and save on cooling costs. You can set the fan so that it blows air straight down in the summer, which can make the room feel up to four degrees cooler without the need to crank up the A/C. In the winter, you can set the fan blades to run in reverse, which pushes warm air down from the ceiling and keeps you warmer.
The best part is that you don’t even need to hire an electrician to install a ceiling fan – unless you need wires run to the spot in the ceiling where you want to install it. Replacing an existing fan, or upgrading a light fixture to a ceiling fan, is a fairly straightforward home improvement job that you can do yourself. Here’s how.
Before you do any work on the electrical wiring in your home, you should always go to the breaker box and shut off the power to the circuit you’ll be working on. If you’re not sure what circuit you’ll be working on, use the process of elimination to find out.
Make sure to test the power in the room where you’ll be working by flipping the light switch on and off. You can also use a voltage tester to verify that power is not flowing through the circuit.
The first step towards replacing an old ceiling fan, or swapping out a light fixture for a ceiling fan, is removing the old fixture. Remove the screws that attach the old fan or light fixture to the ceiling and carefully lower it to reveal the wiring connections in the ceiling.
Undo those connections by removing the wire nuts and untwisting the ends of the wires. Set the old fixture aside. If you still need overhead lights in the room, you should replace your fixture with one of the many ceiling fans with lights available for sale.
If you’re replacing an old fan, chances are you already have a fan-rated electrical box in your ceiling, and it’s probably already anchored to the ceiling joists – but check to make sure. If you’re replacing a light fixture, you’re going to need to buy a fan-rated electrical box, because electrical boxes rated for lights are not robust enough to support the weight of a ceiling fan. Grab a fan-rated, pancake electrical box to install in your ceiling.
If you already have a fan-rated electrical box that is solidly anchored to your ceiling joists, you can skip this step. But if you need to install a fan-rated electrical box in your ceiling, you need to also make sure it’s anchored to the ceiling joists. The easiest way to do this is to screw the fan box directly to the joist using 1 ½-inch screws.
However, your joists may not be perfectly positioned above the spot where you want to hang the fan. You can move the fan over a little so it’s positioned under the joist, and install a ceiling medallion to hide the old hole. If that’s not going to work – perhaps because it would mean putting the fan in a weird, off-center place – you can install a brace between joists and hang the fan from that.
If you can access the ceiling from the attic above, anchor a length of two-by-four lumber between the joists using 1 ½-inch screws, and attach your fan box to that two-by-four. If you can’t access the ceiling from above, you can insert an expandable metal brace from below.
Use the instructions that come with your fan to put together the fan motor assembly on the floor. Attach the fan mounting plate to the electrical box and pull the wires from your ceiling down through it. Pull them through the downrod and attach the downrod to the mounting plate if you’re using one.
There should be a hook on the fan mounting plate from which you can hang the fan motor assembly while you’re hooking up the wiring. Attach the black wire from your ceiling to the black wire from your fan, the white wire to the white wire, and the green or bare wire to the green or bare wire.
Attach the green or bare ground wire to the grounding screw in the electrical box before connecting it to your fan motor. Once you have the wires connected, you can go ahead and attach the fan motor to the mounting plate using the instructions that came with your fan.
Once the fan motor assembly is attached securely to the mounting plate, you can put the fan blades and light fixture on. Attach each blade bracket to each blade and then attach the blades to the fan. You may have to wire up the light fixture (black to black, white to white, and green to green), or it may simply plug into the fan motor.
Once you have finished wiring up the light fixture, you can attach the bulb covers, put in new bulbs, and enjoy your brand new ceiling fan!