How to Install Ceiling Fans

Improve lighting and ventilation in any room with one easy project.


Solve two problems with one great solution: Improve lighting and ventilation by replacing an existing light fixture with a ceiling fan. It's a project you can do in one evening. According to the National Retail Hardware Association, installing a fan is a task 50,000 households tackle every year.

Here, we'll present the basic steps involved in the project. For more specific instructions, be sure to read the directions packaged with your fan.

Caution: To avoid electrical shock, be certain electricity is shut off at main panel before you begin.

1. Shut off the electricity. Turn on the existing light fixture, then shut off power to the fixture. For extra safety, place a piece of tape over the circuit breaker or fuse to warn others that you're working.

2. Remove the old fixture. Unscrew the fixture to reveal the electrical wire connections. Untwist wire nuts to free the wires (Image 1). Preassemble the new fan following manufacturer's directions. Note particularly if you will need to add extra ceiling support for your fan.

3. Attach the new plate. Thread the lead wires through the opening in the ceiling plate; secure the ceiling plate to the 2x4 brace that supports the outlet box. The fan we used included noise-buffering rubber bushings on top of the ceiling plate. When attaching the ceiling plate to the outlet box support, tighten the mounting screws only enough to provide slight compression of the bushings (Image 2).

4. Wire the new fixture. Caution: Never lift a fan by the electrical wires. This fan has a hook in the ceiling plate that holds the fan while you work. Connect electrical wires to the wires from the motor -- black to black and black/white, white to white -- using approved connectors (Image 3). Connect the ground wire to the green leads from the motor and to the ceiling plate. Caution: No bare wire or wire strands should be visible after making connections.

5. Spread the wires apart with the white and green wires on one side of the outlet box, and the black and black/white wires on the other side. Carefully tuck the wires through the hole in the plate and into the outlet box.

6. Install fan blades. Slide an assembled fanblade into position on the fan (Image 4). Working through the light/switch housing, align screws in both holes; tighten screws in place. Repeat for all blades. Outfit the fixture with bulbs, secure the glass globe over the light/switch housing, and you're ready for lights and action.

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