Overview

Anatomy of a ceiling fan
Illustration: Gregory Nemec
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Overview

There are few fixtures that can impact the look and livability of a room as much as a ceiling fan. It can keep you cool on sultry summer days, push warm air down into the room during winter, and even serve as the room's primary illumination if you add a light. The best news: Replacing an existing light fixture with a fan is a simple, one-day task since the wiring is already in place.

However—and this is very important—you can't just hang the fan from the existing electrical box. It's simply not strong enough to support the added weight and vibration of a fan. Presuming you don't have access to the ceiling fan from above, you must either use a specially rated hanger and box to mount the fan between joists or, better yet, screw a fan-rated "pancake" box (so called because it's very thin) directly to a ceiling joist.
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    Tools List

    • wire strippers
      Wire strippers
    • nailset
      Nailsets
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • drill
      Drill
    • drywall saw
      Drywall saw
    • ratcheting screwdriver
      Screwdriver
    • caulk gun
      Caulk gun

    Shopping List

    1. FAN-RATED 1/2-INCH-DEEP PANCAKE BOX

    2. MEDALLION

    made of rigid foam, not plaster, which may crack



    3. FAN BLADES

    4. FAN MOTOR

    5. LIGHT-FIXTURE HOUSING

    6. LAMP SHADES

    7. DOWN ROD, CANOPY, AND CEILING PLATE

    all included in fan kit



    8. REMOTE-CONTROL TRANSMITTER WITH 9V BATTERY

    9. TWIST-ON WIRE CONNECTORS

    10. CAULK OR SPACKLING COMPOUND

    for filling nail holes in medallion



    11. 6D FINISH NAILS

    for attaching medallion to ceiling



    12. LATEX PAINT OR ACRYLIC SPRAY PAINT

    to paint medallion; optional