How Do You Install a Ceiling Fan?

Brad Smith
Written By Brad Smith

A ceiling fan can really make a huge difference to your comfort level on a sweltering summer day. But can you install a new ceiling fan yourself, without the help of an electrician? Yes, you can, as long as your home has newish wiring and there’s already a light fixture or an old fan in the place where you want to put the new fan. The process of installing a new fan is pretty simple. Follow these instructions and soon you’ll be enjoying a nice, cool breeze.

how to install a ceiling fan

Turn Off the Circuit

You always need to make sure you turn off the circuit before doing any work on the electrical wiring in your home. Go to your breaker box and turn off the circuit in the room where you’ll be working. Use a voltage tester in the room to double check that the power is off.

Disconnect the Old Fixture

To disconnect the old fixture, first take off the light bulb cover(s) and remove the light bulbs. You should be able to see screws in the base of the fixture. Unscrew these to detach the fixture from the electrical junction box. Pull the fixture gently downwards to find the wiring connections in the junction box. Remove the plastic caps from the wiring connections and untwist the ends of the wires.

If you’re replacing an old ceiling fan, the process is similar. You should start by removing the blades, then take off the light covers and bulbs. Then you can unfasten the fan canopy at the top of the downrod, disconnect the wiring, and remove the downrod from the mounting plate.

Verify That You Have the Correct Type of Junction Box in the Ceiling

If you don’t secure your new ceiling fan to a fan-rated electrical junction box, it could come crashing down. Fans are heavy and a light-rated electrical box simply won’t be strong enough to support the weight of a fan. 
You will need to put a fan-rated pancake electrical box in your ceiling if you don’t already have one in there. Pry the old box off the joist with a pry bar, then screw the new box into the joist. If there is no joist running above the hole in your ceiling, don’t despair. You can install a fan brace between the joists running on either side of the hole to provide adequate support for your new fan.

install the mounting plate

Install the Mounting Plate 

The first step to installing your new chandelier ceiling fan is to install the mounting plate that comes with the fan. This plate should sit flush against the ceiling and should bolt onto the junction box you’ve just installed.

Assemble the Fan Motor

Your fan motor will require a small amount of assembly. You should do this part on the floor before you attempt to lift the fan motor up to ceiling level. Your fan will come with assembly instructions, but generally assembling the fan motor will require attaching the downrod to the top of the motor and fishing the wiring through the downrod. For hugger or flush-mount ceiling fans, assembly will involve attaching the fan canopy directly to the fan motor.

Connect the Fan Motor and Secure It to the Mounting Plate

Now it’s time to grab your fan motor and climb up on your step ladder to hang the fan motor from the ceiling. There should be a hook on the mounting plate that you can hang the motor assembly from while you’re working on the wiring, or you might be able to simply seat the ball end of the downrod into the socket on the mounting plate.

To connect the wiring, match the wires from the fan to the same-color wires coming out of the ceiling. Black should connect to black, white to white, and green or bare to green or bare. The green or bare wire is the ground, so make sure the ground wire coming out of the ceiling is wrapped around the ground screw in the junction box before you connect the end of it to the ground wire coming out of your fan.

Put the Fan Blades On

Fan blades usually come with metal brackets that you attach to the ends of the blades. These in turn can be screwed into the fan motor housing. Assemble your fan blades and attach them to the fan motor housing.

Wire Up the Light Fixture

If you’ve purchased a ceiling fan with lights, you’ll need to connect the light fixture. You will match same-color wires for this, too, unless the fixture connects to the motor housing with a plug. Attach the bulb covers and put in new bulbs.

Restore the Power and Test the Fan

Now it’s time to turn the circuit back on and enjoy your new fan!

smith brad omni

Written by Brad Smith

CEO & Lead Interior Designer

Brad Smith is an experienced interior designer and the founder of With a Master's degree in Interior Design from Pratt Institute and a passion for creating safe and healthy living spaces, Brad shares his expert insights and innovative design ideas with our readers. His work is driven by the belief that home is where every story begins.