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Ceiling Fans - How to Choose and Install

Ceiling fans are aesthetically pleasing, useful and energy efficient. While most people know that fans can provide a cool breeze in the summer, many don't realize that a fan can also be used to force warm air down from the ceiling in the winter. Light kits can even be added to increase the usefulness of many ceiling fans.

This how-to includes basic instructions for installing a ceiling fan. Remember, however, to always consult the manufacturer's instructions during actual installation. Since ceiling fans are most often used to replace existing light fixtures, the wiring to the fan should already be complete. Installation is not difficult, and only requires that you pay attention to the instructions included with the fan. If additional wiring must be done to install your fan and you are not familiar with wiring, consult a professional electrician. All wiring must conform to local and national codes.

Things to Consider

Ceiling fans are inexpensive to purchase and operate and can make a huge difference in your home's climate during both summer and winter months.
Replacing a central light fixture in almost any room with a ceiling fan + light kit can add beauty while increasing air flow.
Because a fan uses almost the same amount of power as a ceiling fixture, the electrical circuit won't be overloaded. If your fan includes lights, be sure the circuit it's on has enough capacity to handle the additional load. If not, you must run a new circuit with a new circuit breaker from the house's main service panel or sub-panel to the fan.
If there is no central light fixture, you'll have to create a place to hang the ceiling fan. Then, you'll need to bring electrical power to it. You can tap into an existing circuit to do this.

Before Installation

Determine what size fan you need. If the dimensions of the room that you will be installing the fan in are no bigger than 12' in any direction (length or width), then you should use a 36" fan. If the largest dimension of the room is between 12' and 15', then you should use a 42" fan. If the largest dimension of the room is greater than 15', then you should use at least a 52" fan.
Before you begin installing your ceiling fan, make sure the power to the fixture is off. Double check this with a high-voltage neon tester if possible. Lock the breaker box to make sure no one accidentally turns the power back on while you are installing the fan. Make sure you have any necessary permits, if applicable. Make sure that you have enough room for a fan.
Fans should be mounted no less than 7' from the floor and 12" from the ceiling. 18" from the ceiling is preferable for more air flow. Fans must be mounted at least 24" from any obstructions. An appropriate junction or outlet box securely attached to the building structure is required. Replace the old box with one labeled as approved for ceiling fans or ceiling suspended "paddle" fan installation. The box and its support must be able to support the moving weight of the fan. Use the installation hardware recommended by the junction box manufacturer. Fans of over 35 pounds, with or without accessories, require additional support independent of the outlet box. Check with a professional about your local building codes.

Installation Steps

Step 1: Install the hanger pipe - Place the hanger pipe in the hole on the top of the fan motor. Slowly draw out the wires from the center. Tighten the set-screws provided with the fan.

Step 2: Attach the blades - Attach the fan blades to the main body. Standard fan blades come with a two-pronged attachment. Connect the screws through the holes present on the blades to the flanges. Tighten them using a screwdriver.

Step 3: Install the hanger bracket - Install the hanger bracket using lock washers and screws. Lock washers should be provided with the fan but if they are not a part of the installation kit then purchase them from a hardware store. Lock washers will prevent the screws from loosening when the fan vibrates.

Step 4: Wire the fan - Determine the hot and common wires by color: black is hot for the fan, blue is hot for the light kit, white is common for the fan and light kit, and green is ground. In all cases, make sure that all exposed wiring is secured inside wire nuts. Wires need to be connected in such a way that the black house wires are connected to the black ceiling fan wires while the white house wires are connected to the white fan wires. The standard colors for grounding wires are either bare copper or green. You should wire-nut the ground wires from the box to those from the power supply and the fan. Once wiring is complete, gently push wires into the electrical box.

Step 5: Turn on your new fan and check for proper operation.

Mike Culletto

Product Specialist

H-Mac Systems

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