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How to Install a Ceiling Fan


T hermal comfort is of the essence in any season, and without supplemental measures, it is impossible to obtain. An air conditioner is an ultimate option to keep cool when summer comes, while a space heater is your best pick to keep warm in winter. But the costs of using them are hefty too, and this is why more and more people turn to fans for thermal comfort.

With a ceiling fan, you can even use it year-round to keep cool in summer and warm when it gets cold as most feature reverse direction functionalities. If your heart is set on adding one to the room in the house you spend most of your time in, stick with us to learn how to install it on your own. This way, you save money on professional installation and you can take pride in your DIY project after it is all done and you benefit from its functioning.

Look into the best bedroom ceiling fans if you haven’t already bought one. Here, you will find the top-rated products available at the moment to make your search easier.

  • Ladder;
  • 2’ level;
  • Pliers;
  • Screwdriver;
  • Wire cutters;
  • Protective gloves;
  • Protective goggles.

  • Fan and light kit;
  • Downrod;
  • Wire connectors;
  • Light bulbs;
  • Mounting hardware;
  • Fan box;
  • Wire extension cords;
  • Electrical tape.

Ceiling Slope Considerations

Measure the slope as it weighs when it comes to acquiring the fan. You must choose the downrod size pursuant to the slope, so you can see why this is an aspect you must look into before you get started. To measure the slope, use a 2’ level that you place against the ceiling as seen in the picture above. Measure the vertical gap between the level and the ceiling. Divide the number by 2 to obtain the drop over 12” of flat run.

Angled Ceiling Minimum Downrod Length

Beware: Before we begin, keep in mind that for 8/12, 10/12, and 12/12 slopes you also need a slope adapting kit. This is valid for all the situations we will present hereafter.

27” blade diameter:

  • 3/12 slope: 6”;
  • 4/12 slope: 6”;
  • 5/12 slope: 6”;
  • 6/12 slope: 12”;
  • 8/12 slope: 18”;
  • 10/12 slope: 24”;
  • 12/12 slope: 36”.

36” blade diameter:

  • 3/12 slope: 6”;
  • 4/12 slope: 6”;
  • 5/12 slope: 6”;
  • 6/12 slope: 12”;
  • 8/12 slope: 18”;
  • 10/12 slope: 24”;
  • 12/12 slope: 36”.

44” blade diameter:

  • 3/12 slope: 6”;
  • 4/12 slope: 6”;
  • 5/12 slope: 12”;
  • 6/12 slope: 12”;
  • 8/12 slope: 24”;
  • 10/12 slope: 30”;
  • 12/12 slope: 42”.

52” blade diameter:

  • 3/12 slope: 6”;
  • 4/12 slope: 12”;
  • 5/12 slope: 18”;
  • 6/12 slope: 18”;
  • 8/12 slope: 24”;
  • 10/12 slope: 30”;
  • 12/12 slope: 42”.

56” blade diameter:

  • 3/12 slope: 12”;
  • 4/12 slope: 12”;
  • 5/12 slope: 18”;
  • 6/12 slope: 24”;
  • 8/12 slope: 30”;
  • 10/12 slope: 36”;
  • 12/12 slope: 48”.

Ceiling Fan Installation Steps

Before you start, let’s go over some safety rules to make sure you won’t injure yourself in the process. First, locate the circuit breaker box and shut off the power as you will be working with wires, so this step is needed to not get hurt. Get rid of any obstructions at the site where you install the fan. The outlet box must be UL listed and marked to support fans. Check that the electrical connections comply with local and national codes. Lastly, read the instructions in the manual in case there are other caution and safety information provided there.

#1 – Start with Removing the Old Fixture

Use a ladder to climb up to the ceiling and detach the old fixture from it. To do this, hold the fixture with one hand, and with the free hand remove the screws that keep it in place.

If there is no fitting, call an electrician to install one. The procedure asks that you run wiring through the walls, which can be dangerous if performed by an unlicensed professional.

Find the wires from the old fixture, support the fixture so that you have both hands free, and unscrew and remove all the connectors. When they are disconnected, lower the fixture and dispose of it as you like. Now move on to the old ceiling box, which is the circular metal fitting that fixtures attach to. Remove what keeps it in place, whether it’s screws or nails, and push it into the ceiling or pry it out.

Note: It is generally needed to substitute the ceiling box as most models are not designed to withstand the weight of spinning ceiling fans. To make sure whether or not it needs to be replaced, look inside the box for markings or model numbers, identify it, and check the weight rating. If it doesn’t comply with the weight of the fan you are about to install, change it as previously instructed.

#2 – Proceed to Install the New Ceiling Bracket

In case the fixture is located between ceiling joists, get a fan box that features a hanger bar large enough to fit between them. As opposed to standard ceiling boxes, fan-rated models are generally bigger or thicker. Hold up the fan box to the hole and if it’s bigger, trace around it with a pencil. Then, simply cut out the excess with a drywall saw. Lift the box and thread the wiring through the hole in it. Secure it in place using the provided screws, and attach the plate or bracket that the fan will be suspended from.

#3 – Put the Fan Assembly Together

The kit contains everything you need to assemble and mount the fan, so you can proceed with the last parts without having to make extra trips to any store. Attach the downrod to the fan body and tighten the locking screws around the base right to make sure it won’t detach. Lift the fan to the installation spot and connect the neutral wires first. There are two of them, twist their ends together and hold them together using a wire connector that you secure with electrical tape at the end. Then, connect the ground wires following the same procedure you used previously. The rest of the wires, you simply connect using a plastic wire connector and electrical tape. Tuck all of the wires neatly in the box, making sure that nothing is left exposed.

Tip: Check the instructions manual for advice on wiring. In case you cannot find the info you need, ask for the help of an electrician.

#4 – End Your Work By Mounting the Fan

Start by screwing in the canopy, and proceed to attach the blades one at a time to their mountings on the motor. Follow the user manual directions for this part of the procedure as it can differ from one model to another. If there is the possibility to add light fixtures, this is the moment when you must install them. Now, turn on the power and test to see if the fan works. You first have to restore power from the circuit breaker box. Watch the fan for a few minutes after you turn it on. If everything appears to be fine, your job is done. In case it doesn’t start or anything seems out of the ordinary, ask for professional help.

How to Size the Fan

Blade span smaller than 29”:

  • Suited for room size of up to 50 sq. ft.
  • Good for small offices and powder rooms.

Blade span from 29” to 36”:

  • Suited for room size of 50 to 75 sq. ft.
  • Good for small bathrooms.

Blade span from 42” to 48”:

  • Suited for room size of 75 to 175 sq. ft.
  • Good for home offices, bedrooms, medium-size bathrooms.

Blade span from 52” to 56”:

  • Suited for room size of 175 to 350 sq. ft.
  • Good for large-size bedrooms and bathrooms.

Blade span over 60”:

  • Suited for room size of over 350 sq. ft.
  • Good for rooms with high ceilings and large living rooms.

Tips to Use the Fan More Efficiently and Effectively

Run it in the right direction according to the season:

If it is a reverse motor model, you can make the ceiling fan to rotate in specific directions for year-round use. When the weather is hot, rotate the blades counterclockwise for a cooling breeze, whereas, in cold weather, make sure the blades rotate clockwise for it to maintain a steady, pleasant temperature indoors.

Check out our review of the Dyson AM05 Hot & Cool if you want a real year-round use fan! Aside from air movement and delivering the cool breeze you seek when the temperatures rise, it is fitted with heating capabilities so that you can use it to keep warm when winter comes.

Keep the doors shut:

This is important regardless of the season. With the door closed, the fan has to circulate a smaller volume of air, which adds to its efficiency. It is mandatory to do so in winter, while in summer, you can skip on this advice in case there is an AC installed in an adjacent area. Keeping the door open would be recommended in that case as the cool air would enter the room and the fan would circulate it to amplify its functioning.

Run it at night when summer comes:

Temperatures are always considerably lower at night as opposed to daytime in this hellishly warm season. As the fan is considerably more efficient at providing a cool breeze when the temperature outside is lower, it is best to run it when the sun sets in summer.

To keep cool even during the day, we recommend that you look at one of these top-rated box fans and use any of them in the warmest season of the year. Place it next to the window so that it ejects the hot air out, and you can mind your business without a drop of sweat on your body.

Use it as a supplement to existent HVAC systems:

The fan on its own doesn’t do much in regards to changing the temperature in the room. It just makes you feel warmer or cooler depending on the setting you opt for. If you truly want to maximize its potential, use it as an addition to your pre-existing air cooling system or heating system. This way, you won’t have to turn the thermostat as high or as low as you used to on these systems as the fan circulates the cool and warm air better in the room, providing thermal comfort faster and more efficiently.

Check out the best through the wall air conditioners to benefit from rapid indoor cooling! Modern and quite cost-effective considering their cooling power, what we like best is that these AC units don’t take up any floor space.

Go fluorescent:

Don’t overlook the light you use either as, in the long run, it makes a difference when it comes to costs. If the fan comes with the lighting kit, instead of opting for a conventional bulb that consumes a considerable amount of energy, install a fluorescent bulb as it saves up to 80%.

Maintain proper humidity:

Relative humidity levels that are too high or too low take a toll not only on indoor air quality but on thermal comfort as well. In summer, when the heat rises, so do humidity levels. In winter, the effect is the opposite. Thus, use an indoor hygrometer to keep an eye on moisture and make adjustments to upkeep a 30% to 60% level indoors. Otherwise, you will feel colder or hotter than you normally should and the fan will have to work harder to keep you comfy.

If humidity levels are below 30%, check out these top-rated ultrasonic humidifiers to raise air moisture. In case humidity levels exceed 60%, opt for one of these high-performance bedroom dehumidifiers to lower air moisture before mold and mildew appear and take a toll on indoor air quality.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are aware of how you need to proceed to follow through with the installation on your own, you will not need to pay hundreds of dollars to have a professional do it for you. Simply follow the guidelines close and take all the safety measures seriously to avoid unpleasant incidents. In case you have any doubts about the procedure, ask for professional help. Better safe than sorry, after all. What is left for you to do now is pick the ceiling fan you consider will serve your needs best, make sure that you size it right for the room you use it in, install it, and enjoy your new acquisition!

If you want a fan that cools you without taking up floor space and you would rather have an alternative for the ceiling-mounted fan, we recommend that you look into the best window fans as well. These air circulators mount to the window, so floor space is not used and you receive almost the same perks as you do with ceiling-mounted units.

Tobey Hunter
Tobey Hunter
Tobey is the editor-in-chief at Optima Institute, his prior experience as a niche product reviewer in air quality improvement systems helping shape his path to conduct thorough research toward selecting and analyzing products so that customers are satisfied with the provided recommendations. During his carrier, Tobey also gathered technical input that makes him well versed in understanding advancements in modern systems, helping readers in turn to better understand how modern devices help improve life quality.