How to Install a Ceiling Fan in 7 Simple Steps

How to Install a Ceiling Fan in 7 Simple Steps

Ceiling Fan Installation

Installing a ceiling fan is not difficult, it just takes a little time to get all the pieces put together. More difficult is finding or creating a place to hang the fan from; ordinary electrical boxes commonly used in home construction are not designed to accommodate either the weight of most fans or the vibration they produce.

Anytime a ceiling fan is going to replace an ordinary light fixture, it is necessary to verify that the box it is to be hung from is rated for ceiling fans. This usually means replacing the current ceiling electrical box, so let's start there.


Install a new ceiling fan mounting box: electrical box and a ceiling fan wiring hanger bracket

Feed the existing wire through the cable clamp in

Feed the existing wire through the cable clamp in the top of the new metal ceiling fan junction box, slip the box over the saddle screws, and tighten the nuts to clamp the box to the shaft with a nut driver or a deep-well socket. Crimp a loop of grounding wire three-quarters around the grounding screw and tighten the screw.

Fasten the downrod securely

Slip the downrod pin through the collar and tube,

Slip the downrod pin through the collar and tube, lock it into place with the cotter pin, and tighten the screws and locknuts.

Tip: Tighten the locknuts firmly. Loose nuts are the most common cause of wobbly fans.

Install a Ceiling Fan Where No Fixture Exists

If the installation is for a room that has never had a ceiling fan before, then it will need to have a fixture and the required mounting kit installed before the fan can be mounted. You will need to hire an electrician to bring switched 120V power to that location, at the cost of about $170 for the electrician’s time and another $40 for parts. However, costs go up depending on your answers to the following questions:[1]

  1. Where do you want the wall switch?
  2. Where do you want the fixture?
  3. Which way are the joists running in the ceiling in relation to the wall switch and fixture location?
  4. Where can you pick up power?
  5. Is there lath-and-plaster or drywall on the walls and ceiling?

Installing Ceiling Fan Wiring

Installing Ceiling Fan Wiring

Overhead lighting in living rooms is not typical. A switched receptacle is. Depending on how the room is wired, an electrician needs to change the box at the switch location to a two gang and keep the switched receptacle, or he/she may be able to change the receptacle and disconnect the line-in in the switch box. The existing wires are usually a 3-wire feed. Then the single switch/box can be used for the overhead light.

Install Ceiling Fan Mounting Box

With a fan weighing up to 50lbs., you’ll need a strong mount to support it. These are installed by attaching the mounting box to a support brace on the ceiling joists. A handyman will either do this by going through the attic or by ratcheting the brace in place from the room below.

A ceiling fan mount will cost $8 to $15. Your handyman will need to swap out the old light mounting box for a ceiling fan box; otherwise, the motion of the fan could shake the fan loose over time.

Installing Ceiling Fan With Light

If you are installing a replacement ceiling fan, then your contractor will first need to remove the existing fan from its ceiling installation and replace it with the new fan. Even if the original fan didn’t have a light, all the wiring should be in place for one with a light. A handyman can do this for about $75.

Ceiling Fan Electrical Box

It is worth having an electrician check out your circuit panels to make sure your ceiling fan installation won’t place too high of a demand on the breakers you have in place currently. Poor initial electrical wiring, or subsequent non-code compliant repairs or enhancements, can result in zone crossover with light fixtures on the same circuits as outlets.

The resulting load from the combined demand, which should never exceed 80% of the breaker’s capacity, could prove too much for that breaker and require an additional panel or the replacement of the old circuit breakers. If an additional panel needs to be installed, that could cost somewhere between $250 and $400, but if it is time to replace the entire circuit breaker setup, you could be looking at a cost between $900 and $1,300.

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Attaching the Ceiling Bracket

Remove the Fan Blade Arm Screws

Most of the time, your screws used to attach the fan arms come pre-installed in the fan motor. Remove these screws from the top of the fan motor before you do anything else. You’ll use these later to attach the fan blade arms and you don’t want to have to remove them when the fan is mounted to the ceiling if at all possible.

Attach the Mounting Bracket

Attach the mounting bracket to the ceiling’s electrical box with the included screws. Most modern fans come with some sort of hook or hanger to temporarily hold the fan during installation. Position the mounting bracket so that the hanger points towards the ceiling. It will support the weight of the fan during the wiring process. If you are on a sloped roof, be sure the hook or hanger’s open side faces the high part of the ceiling.

Pull the electrical wires through the hole in the center of the mounting bracket.

Note: For this, we need to assume your ceiling-mounted electrical box already comes ready for a ceiling fan. For new construction, most building codes call these “fan boxes” and they should be all ready to go. For an older home, be sure you understand whether or not that box can support a fan mount. A spinning fan falling out of the ceiling is no laughing matter!

STEP 1: Select a ceiling fan that suits the size of the room


When choosing a fan, note the size of your room. The blades need to be at least 18 to 24 inches away from all walls, a minimum of 7 feet from the floor, and 10 inches from the ceiling. Use the following figures as a guide to selecting the right size ceiling fan for your space:

  • 36-inch fan if the room is less than 144 square feet
  • 42-inch fan if the room is between 144 and 225 square feet
  • 52-inch fan if the room is more than 225 square feet

Our researched guide to the best ceiling fans offers terrific fan options at a variety of price points. After selecting the fan, select a ceiling box that’s approved for fans. Boxes for overhead lights are not strong enough to support the weight of a fan; your best bet is to choose a metal box that can support a fan’s weight. If you have access from an attic above or have open ceiling framing, you can add framing between joists to attach the box. If not, use a brace bar. A brace bar can be screwed into the joists, and the ceiling box and fan will hang from the newly added support.


STEP 4: Connect the ceiling fan wires


Carefully pull the wires through the knockout hole in the receptacle box. A handy pair of needle-nose pliers can help. Then, attach the fan’s mounting bracket with the hardware included. Attach the fan’s down rod with the ball end toward the ceiling, and secure (usually with an included cotter pin).

Next, connect the fan’s wires to the circuit wires: white to white, black to black, and the grounding wire to the green lead wire of the fan or a grounding screw. Secure all connections with wire connectors, and tuck them into the ceiling box.

Choosing Where to Install Your Ceiling Fan

The two big questions you must answer before installing a ceiling fan are where you want to install it and how you’ll be supplying power to that location. Factors to consider will vary depending on if you’re installing a new fan, replacing an old one, or retrofitting an old light fixture.

  • Existing Fans or Retrofit: If you’re replacing an existing fan or light fixture, your decision on where to install your new fan is easy. You’ll want to carefully disassemble the fixture, beginning with light bulbs and decorative glass. Remove the screws holding the light fixture to the electrical box, then disconnect the plastic wiring connectors to remove the fixture completely. If you’re lucky, the electrical box will be installed directly to a ceiling joist. That means you’ll be able to bracket your fan to the joist to give it the support it needs. If the electrical box is installed between two joists, you’ll need to install a support bar that is rated for fan support.
  • New Fan Installations: When installing a fan where no fixture exists, you have the same options for structural support: either bracket the fan directly to a ceiling joist or install a support bar between joists. The greater challenge will be choosing the best solution for supplying power, which is usually the method that requires the least amount of drywall cutting. With attic access to the installation site, homeowners who are experienced with electrical rewiring can route new wiring from any electrical access point in the attic. If there is no such access, wiring should be routed from the nearest outlet or switch, which is usually a wall switch in the room where the fan is being installed. This will often require one or more small holes to be cut in the drywall so that the wiring can be routed around corners.

How to Install a Ceiling Fan

1. Remove the Existing Light Fixture

  • Make sure electricity to circuit is turned off and carefully remove the glass shade or globe from the old light fixture.
  • Unscrew the retaining nut or screws that hold the fixture to the ceiling.
  • Lower the fixture and disconnect the wires by twisting off the plastic connectors from the ends of the wires.

2. Remove Box and Cut New Hole

  • Remove the old electrical box from the ceiling. If it’s nailed to a joist, pry it free with a flat bar. If it’s suspended from a bar, you may have to take off a metal plate to unscrew the box; then pry the bar from the joists.
  • Hold a 1/2-inch-thick pancake box against the ceiling, centered on a joist, and trace around it with a pencil.
  • Cut along the line with a drywall saw.

Tip: Hold a vacuum cleaner wand next to the saw to catch the dust.

3. Attach New Electrical Box

  • Feed the electrical cable coming from the ceiling through the knockout hole in the pancake box. (Be sure there’s a cable connector attached to the knockout hole.)
  • Set the box into the hole cut through the ceiling and press it tight against the underside of the joist.
  • Attach the box to the joist with the two 1 1/2-inch No. 10 hex-head screws provided. Drive in the screws with a drill/driver equipped with a 5/16-inch nut-driver tip.
  • Wrap the cable’s bare copper wire around the grounding screw inside the box. Allow the wire end to hang down.

4. Glue on the Ceiling Medallion

  • Apply a small bead of urethane-based adhesive to the back of the ceiling medallion.
  • Pass the wires through the medallion (above).
  • Center the medallion on the pancake box and press. Fasten it with four 6d finishing nails driven into the joist.
  • Set the nailheads and fill with caulk or spackle.

5. Mount the Ceiling Plate

  • Hold the fan’s metal ceiling plate up to the pancake box and pull the wires through its center hole.
  • Attach the ceiling plate to the box with two 1 1/2-inch-long 10-32 machine screws.

Tip: If you’re going to paint the medallion, do it before installing the ceiling plate.

6. Assemble the Fan Components

  • With the fan on the floor, feed the wires coming from the motor through the center of the canopy. Set the canopy on top of the motor.
  • Next, pass the wires through the hollow down-rod pipe.
  • Thread the down-rod pipe into the top of the motor. Use a wrench to tighten the square-head locking screw on the side of the pipe.

Tip: The pipe’s threads have a factory-applied coating. Don’t remove this coating; it keeps the pipe from unscrewing.

7. Make the Wire Connections

  • Hook one side of the canopy onto the ceiling plate.
  • Using twist-on wire connectors, join the two green wires to the bare copper wire coming from the cable. (If your room is wired differently from the one shown here, consult a licensed electrician.)
  • Join the two white wires.
  • Then connect the two black wires.
  • Swing the fan up into position against the medallion and secure it with the two canopy screws.

8. Attach the Blades and Lights

  • Attach each fan blade to a blade iron (the bracket that holds the blade to the fan). Then, fasten the blade irons to the motor with the screws provided.
  • Plug the fan’s light-fixture housing into the wire hanging from the underside of the fan’s motor.
  • Install the shades and lightbulbs.
  • Screw the plastic holder for the remote control to the wall beside the wall switch.

Installing a ceiling fan

Installing a ceiling fan can seem intimidating, especially when it comes to wiring a ceiling fan. However, we have a number of resources to help guide you including a how to install a ceiling fan video. Our resources are supplements to your Hunter ceiling fan manual, so make sure you refer to your installation manual first and foremost during the installation.

Hunter Fan Company continues to innovate new ways

Hunter Fan Company continues to innovate new ways to make for easy ceiling fan installation, including our pre-installed remote receiver and snap-on blades. But if you are uncomfortable installing a ceiling fan, hire a certified, professional electrician to install your fan. Depending on the hourly rates of electricians in your area, it can range from $60 to $250 to install a ceiling fan including installing the ceiling fan box and the fan itself.

Shop this fan
Shop this fan

If you consider yourself handy, installing a ceiling fan where a light fixture exists is easy. Even if you don’t consider yourself handy, it’s still an easy and fairly inexpensive update that will bring your room style and added comfort. Find more tips for installing a ceiling fan in your home on our blog.


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