How to Install a Ceiling Fan

Keep the air flowing and increase circulation by installing a ceiling fan. Do it the right way with help from Mr. Electric. Learn more today!

Stylish and functional, adding a ceiling fan to any room is a great way to improve comfort year-round, keeping you cool in the summer, and circulating heated air in the winter. Installing a ceiling fan is easy with an existing ceiling light fixture or when replacing a worn fan...

1st Things 1st: Determine the Right Size Fan for Your Room

The bigger the room, the bigger the fan:

  • Longest wall less than 12-feet: 36-inch fan.
  • Longest wall 12-15- feet:  42-inch fan.
  • Over 15-feet: 52-inch fan.

How to Install a Ceiling Fan in an Existing Light Fixture

To make an existing light fixture more multifunctional with a ceiling fan addition is fairly straight-forward. You’ll need to determine the right size fan (above), as well as upgrade the fixture in the ceiling with one sized to hold the additional wires and rated to bear the weight of a ceiling fan in motion. In some areas, this upgrade may require a permit. If you’re a newbie, or simply want the job done ASAP, look for ceiling fans labeled ‘easy-install,’ with components that click together for a fan that installs in three easy steps.  

  • Tools & Materials
    • Ceiling fan
    • Ceiling fan approved ceiling fixture (the junction box that holds the wires/wire connectors)
    • Ceiling fan mounting kit (this visible piece connects the fan to the box on the other side of the drywall, and may be decorative)
    • Ceiling fan light kit (purchase if you’d like to add lights to your fan)
    • Downrod extender (with high/vaulted ceilings, you will need this rod to lower your fan)
    • Dimmer switch, if desired
    • Voltage tester
    • Wire cutters/strippers
    • Wire nuts
    • Electrical tape
    • Pliers
    • Hammer
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Screwdrivers/Cordless drill
  • Buy the Right Stuff.
    Including a properly sized ceiling fan for your room and necessary components, including fan-rated junction box. National Electrical Code (NEC) prohibits installing ceiling fans with traditional ceiling boxes.
  • Turn off the Power.
    Turn off power at the breaker box. NEVER rely on turning off a light switch to protect you from live current. Double-check with a voltage tester to ensure the wires are dead.
  • Remove the Existing Light and Open the Fixture.
    Remove any electrical tape or wire nuts from wires. You should see a black (hot), white (neutral), and possibly a green or bare (ground) wire. Removing an old fan? Banish dust bunnies easily before removal with the infamous pillowcase trick from Molly Maid: The Only Way to Clean Dusty Fan Blades.
  • Remove the Existing Ceiling Box.
    Depending on the box’s installation, remove any visible nails or screws that attach the box to your home’s frame, or push up toward the attic to pry from the frame or bend the hanger bar holding it in place. NOTE: It may be easier to work from above.
  • Install the New Hanger Bar & Fan-Rated Ceiling Box.
    Most adjustable hanger bars simply push through the hole from the old electrical box. Push the bar completely through, then rotate perpendicular to ceiling joists, allowing it to expand until the sharp steel pins on the end dig into the wooden ceiling joists. Then, attach the fan-rated ceiling box to the hanger bar, feeding the wires into the box and locking it into place with the included U-bolt bracket and nuts, centering with the bolts facing down.  
  • Mount the Fan Bracket.
    Thread electrical wires through the center of the mounting bracket, sliding on the bracket over the mounting screws or fastening to the bolts with nuts (depending on model). Or install downrod, if using.
  • Assemble the Fan.
    Following manufacturer’s instructions, assemble your new ceiling fan and light kit, if purchased.
  • Look for Help.
    Fans are heavy, and must be held suspended while wires are attached. If your ceiling fan model did not include a tool to help you suspend the fan for installation, enlist the help of a friend/family member while you attach the wires.
  • Attach the Wires.
    Attach the fan’s black/colored wire with the black wire in the ceiling box. Then the white wire to its matching counterpart, followed by the green ceiling fan wire to the green or bare wire in the box. Some fans have extra wires, so always defer to manufacturer’s wiring instructions. Install light kit wires at this time as well. Push wires into the box when complete, cutting if needed. (If wires do not fit, the fan may vibrate in motion.)
  • Attach the Fan to the Box.
    The fan assembly typically attaches to the box with a few screws.
  • Install Trim, Lights, and Fan Blades per Manufacturer Instructions.
    When complete, restore power at breaker box and test your fan.

No Existing Ceiling Fan Fixture?

Installing a ceiling fan in a room with no existing fixture can be a tricky task. Luckily, Mr. Electric is here to help, running additional wiring safely to your electrical box and switch, safely bracing the new ceiling receptacle box to joists, and dealing with drywall (whether you want to install the actual fan yourself – or not). Ensure safe ceiling fan installation and operation. Contact Mr. Electric today.

This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.