Installing A Ceiling Fan
We both agree that a ceiling fan is a must for any home, anywhere. Why all of the enthusiasm for such a simple contraption? Comfort, energy savings and lower utility bills to name a few. Moreover, a ceiling paddle fan is decorative and, when equipped with a light kit, is a great source of artificial light.
We both learned early on of the benefits of having a ceiling fan when visiting our uncle’s corner market. He had a ceiling fan mounted just outside the entry door to his store. The cool breeze provided by the fan made for a pleasant welcome. What we didn’t realize then was our uncle didn’t install the fan with expectations of cooling his customers. He used it for pest control. The stream of air created by the rotating blades would discourage flies and other airborne pests from entering his store.
Many people still believe that a ceiling fan only has value during the warm months of the year. Wrong! The benefits of a ceiling fan can be enjoyed all year long, year in and year out.
People whose homes don’t have air conditioning can attest to the relief offered by a ceiling fan. However, a ceiling fan can be just as valuable to folks with air conditioning. When operated in the normal mode, the blades of the ceiling fan will push air downward causing cool air residing near the floor to travel upward to mix with air throughout a room resulting in more even cooling.
The same principal can be applied during winter when home heating bills soar. The only difference is that the fan is run in the opposite direction. In contrast to normal operation, the fan blades push air toward the ceiling driving warm air downward which results in more even heating. In either case the fan can improve comfort and result in a smaller utility bill.
If sweating windows are a problem, a ceiling fan may be just the answer. Run in the reverse direction as described above, the movement of air will cure the sweats once and for all.
Decorative ceiling paddle fans come in an almost infinite array of shapes, sizes, models and features. Four blades, five blades, painted finishes, metallic finishes, light kits and an assortment of glass shades make customizing a fan to meet your specific needs a “breeze” (no pun intended).
Most fan motors are equipped with multiple speeds and a reversing switch. Manufacturers of finer models have various accessories which can greatly enhance convenience. Variable speed control switches allow the fan to operate at a wide range of speeds. A variable rheostat or “dimmer” switch will allow the lights to be adjusted to create the perfect mood.
If you’re really into gadgets and your budget permits, consider a state-of-the-art wireless remote which will control lights and fan speed right from the convenience of your easy chair or nightstand. Wireless remotes on some top-of-the-line models control fan speed via a built-in thermostat and will turn lights on and off periodically as a security feature.
You get what you pay for. Ceiling fans range in price from under fifty dollars to well over a thousand dollars. If you don’t mind wobbling fan blades, a noisy motor and early replacement the least expensive is the ticket. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more quiet, smoother operation, plan to spend two hundred fifty dollars and up.
Most ceiling fans come packaged in a million pieces which require assembly. Detailed instructions and the right tools make installation simple. The most complicated aspect of installation is getting power to the switch and fan location. This isn’t a problem when an existing light fixture is being replaced by the fan. However, there are support issues which must be addressed. More on this later.
When running the electrical wiring we suggest that you use 14/3 with a ground sheathed cable from the wall switch to the fan. This consists of three strands of 14 gauge wire with a ground wire. This will permit the light and fan functions to be operated independently from the corresponding wall switch. We recommend this even if your fan doesn’t have a light since it will allow one to be installed with ease in the future. Remember, never attempt to perform electrical work without first turning off the electricity at the breaker panel or fuse box. If electrical work isn’t your forte’ we suggest that you enlist the service of a professional electrician to make the installation and don’t forget a permit should one be required. If your fan is controlled by a wireless remote, you may only need to bring power to the fan location and bypass a hard-wired switch all together.
Another important aspect of installation to consider is the weight of the fan. A ceiling fan is generally much heavier than an average light fixture. Therefore, the bracket to which the fan hangs from the ceiling should be securely anchored to ceiling framing. Most ceiling mount electrical boxes for light fixtures are typically NOT anchored to framing. In many cases they are attached to a light gauge metal bracket which spans between two framing members and is attached at both ends. This is not enough support for most ceiling fans.
If you have access from above, such as an attic, you can install a two by block between two ceiling joists. The electrical box can then be screwed to the wood block resulting in a secure connection. If you don’t have access from above, use a fan brace that can be installed through the outlet box hole. It is an adjustable metal hanger that attaches to wood framing at either side of the fan location. It is designed to carry the load imposed by the fan.
Better fan manufacturers offer complete detailed installation instructions along with a toll-free installation help line. Don’t hesitate to call if you get into trouble.
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