How to replace ceiling fan light switch?

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  • Dianne Pawlak

Jun 13, 2017

    Dianne Pawlak Jun 13, 2017

    “I recently rented a house with 4 ceiling fans, all of which are missing either the light pull chain or the fan pull chain. There is no way for me to find out the make/model of the fans. It may be a bigger job to try to fix the fans than I want to take on.” …” more

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Are ceiling fan pull chain switches Universal?

Ceiling fans are very popular among homeowners because they provide cooling air circulation while adding style to a room. However, not all ceiling fans are created equal. Ceiling fans come in many different styles, sizes, and power ratings. In addition, they come in two main types: Direct drive and belt driven. Both types offer similar benefits and drawbacks. Direct Drive Fans A direct drive fan uses a motor that spins directly connected to the blades. This type of fan offers great airflow and quiet operation. It is also easy to install, requires no maintenance, and comes with a limited warranty. However, direct drive fans are expensive and may cost several hundred dollars.

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6. Strip 1/2-inch of Insulation

Snip off the bare ends of the two insulated wires you removed from the switch, using a wire cutter. Strip 1/2-inch of insulation from the tips of the two insulated wires using a wire stripper, instructs Popular Mechanics.

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

Photo: istockphoto.com

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.

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Final Thoughts

Replacing a ceiling light with a new ceiling fan is a fairly easy DIY project. After selecting the new ceiling fan based on the room’s size and design preferences, and then gathering all of the needed supplies and tools, it’s an interior design update that can typically be completed in an afternoon.

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2. Switching the Light and Using the Pull Chain for the Fan(Single Switch)

This method and the following are the most commonly used. They only require a single light switch. Many older homes never gave any thought to wiring up a second switch. Mostly, this happened because homes didn’t have a powered ceiling fan. As a result, many homeowners must use a single switch to control the light and/or both aspects of their ceiling fans. The wiring for this type of electrical connection looks like this:

As you can see, we switched the hot line going to the light kit by inserting the switch. Many people use simple 12/2 (Romex) with a ground wire to make this loop. If you do this, wrap black electrical tape around the exposed white wire. This indicates (to you or anyone else who works on the circuit in the future) that it is indeed a “hot” wire and not a neutral line.

While we show a small strip of electrical tape, we recommend actually wrapping it around all the exposed white wire. Note that we opted to wire the fan motor directly to the power source. That lets us use the fan’s pull string to turn it on and off. This also keeps the fan usable regardless of the position of the wall switch. Make your connections for the neutral and ground wires, and you’re all set.

4. Pull Out the Switch

Loosen the mounting screws at the top and bottom of the switch with a screwdriver and pull the switch out of the junction box as far as the wiring will allow. Loosen and remove the bare wire from the grounding screw on the base of the switch.

5. Switching the Lightand Fan from the Same Switch with Power at the Switch (Single switch)

This is identical to situation #3 above. However we wanted to outline the wiring differences when the power is actually at the switch instead of in the ceiling. We find this method is encountered in roughly fifty percent of the time in older homes. It especially occurs when electrical wiring originated in the crawl space. Additionally, there is a sort of clean-ness to this method.

It also offers two helpful advantages. First, the wires are consistent. You have no re-labeling of neutral wires. Secondly, this method of wiring makes swapping out ceiling fans easy. Cutting power at the switch eliminates all power to the ceiling box. Note that we still recommend deactivating the breaker and checking your wires with a voltmeter, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

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