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How to choose and install a ceiling fan

 

A ceiling fan is a stylish and functional addition to any room. They are a great way to stay cool and comfortable as they increase air flow in a room creating a fresh feel suiting those who prefer to open their window in the home in summer. In winter they can be reversed pushing warm air that is trapped in the ceiling back down to the floor, requiring less heating.  

 

Choose the Ceiling Fan

Generally, there are two different types of fan motors that power ceiling fans.

AC fan motors is the older technology which comes with a 3-5 speed wall controller and an optional remote control.

DC fan motors are the more modern technology which are quieter and consumer less power to run. They have a greater level of control as they come with a 5-7speed remote control and reverse function.

Types of Blades

Generally, there are 3 different types of fan blade to consider.

  • Wood – Generally quieter and recommend for bedrooms.
  • Metal – Can be nosier but formed to push more air. Recommend for living areas and commercial usage.
  • Plastic – Brings the both worlds, as they are moulded to shape to efficiently move the air and still quieter.

Most ceiling fans tend to have 3 to 5 blades, but the number of blades has no effect on the ability to cool a room.

Control Mechanisms

Generally, there are two control mechanisms  

  • Wall Switch with a dial to control the speed. 
  • Remote control. 

 

What size should I consider for my room?

Choosing the right size is an important consideration, but placement and airflow should be your main concerns. There is no strict best size for a room, but we do have handy guide below to help:

Room Size (Sq M) Room Type Fan Diameter
Up to 16m2 Small Rooms  Up to 1200mm 
12m2 to 30m2 Medium Rooms Up to 1400mm
23m2 to 40m2 Large Rooms Up to 1600mm

Remember to check you ceiling height, while this does not impact airflow too much, but it affects your choice as ceiling fan. Your Ceiling Fan should be installed with at least 2.1m clearance from the floor and 1.5m from the wall to the blade. So, remember to check your ceiling height as this prohibits a lot of fans being used on a 2.4m high ceiling. An oversized fan will cool even more of the room and be visually striking.

Most ceiling fans will have a ball joint into the base so they can work on angles ceilings. If you are installing onto an angle ceiling check the degree of pitch on the model you are considering.  

 

How does my ceiling fan cool me?

The main cooling effect of a fan is directly below it, there is a sharp drop off in cooling effect from about 750mm from the side of the fan.

So, it is important to consider you location if you want to properly cool the areas. Fans are most helpful if they are correctly placed, here’s a few things to consider:

  • If you need cool a larger are consider using an oversized fan to properly cool the areas of highest use in the room.
  • If your dining or lounge area will be off to the side of the centre of the room, you can offset the fan above the seating area to maximise the cooling.
  • In a bedroom, you could opt for a fan that is placed directly over the bed.

From a design perspective offsetting the fan can also help create zones in a large open plan space. 

 

Installation Guide

If you are planning to install a ceiling fan in a room that already has a ceiling outlet, wiring a ceiling fan is the same as wiring any ceiling fixture. If the room doesn’t have an overhead box, hire an electrician to install the box and fish the wires through the walls and across the ceiling. Save the fun of installing the actual fan for yourself.

If you can access the ceiling on which you want to attach the fan from the attic or from an overhead area, you have several choices in the type of box you install. If you can get to the attic you are best to use an fan brace If you can’t get to the attic, you must use an adjustable hanger bar designed for installation through the hole left by the existing ceiling box.

To replace a ceiling fixture and install your fan follow these steps:

Step 1: Turn off the power at the fuse or circuit panel.

You may find several pairs of wires in the ceiling box. Some may be wired to circuits other than the one that the fixture you’re working on uses. Be safe: Use a circuit tester or turn off the power to the whole house before attempting to install a ceiling fan. That’s the only way to be sure that all wires in the box are dead.

Step 2: Remove any light bulb cover and bulbs from the fixture and then unscrew the screws or nuts holding the fixture base to the ceiling box.

Because ceiling fans are so heavy, you must attach a ceiling fan to a standard ceiling box. Before you purchase the fan, check the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and purchase an approved electrical ceiling box.

Step 3: Lower the fixture base and remove the electrical tape or wire nuts.

Step 4: Disconnect the wires to the existing ceiling box and remove it.

First, loosen the cable clamp screw that secures the incoming cable to the box. Then remove the box, working from above, if possible. Otherwise, remove any accessible fasteners (nails or screws) that attach it to the framing or push it up into the cavity to pry it from the framing or bend its hanger bar, depending on how it is attached.

Step 5: Follow the manufacturer's directions to install the adjustable hanger bar and ceiling box.

You install most hanger bars by pushing them through the hole in the ceiling left by the old electrical box. When you have the hanger bar completely through the hole, rotate it until it’s perpendicular to the ceiling joists. The bar expands until it engages the ceiling joists. The ends of the hanger bar are equipped with sharp steel pins that dig into the wood joists when the hanger bar is expanded. You then attach the special ceiling box to the hanger bar, locking it in place to provide a secure base for the fan.

A. For GIB ceilings you will need to locate a wooden beam in the ceiling to secure the screws.

Note: Your installer may need to add a suitable piece of timber in the ceiling.

B. For concrete ceilings, drill a 8mm hole to the length of the expansion plugs. Then fix the hanger bracket to the ceiling with the expansion plugs and screws.

Step 6: Assemble the fan according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Ceiling fans are heavy, so they require support while you attach the wires. Most models provide a way for you to suspend them below the ceiling box while you attach the wires. If yours doesn’t, get a helper to support the fan assembly while you attach the wires.

Wiring schemes differ slightly from fan to fan, depending on whether they’re equipped with a light or speed control. The basic installation of a ceiling fan is no different from that of a standard light fixture. Use wire nuts to attach the fan’s black or coloured wire and white wire to matching wires in the ceiling box. If the wiring has a green or brown earth wire, attach it to the green or bare wire in the box.

This should just involve a few screws.

Step 7: Complete the attachment of the fan assembly to the ceiling box.

Step 8: Install the trim and fan blades according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 9: Turn on the power and test the installation.

CEILING FANS ARE ONLY TO BE MOUNTED ON WALLS THAT COMPLY WITH CURRENT AS/NZS SPECIFICATIONS & BUILDING REGULATIONS. 

 

Safety Precautions

  • Installation must be carried out by a qualified installer. 
  • Turn off power before assembly & disassembly.  
  • Ensure that all screws are tight throughout the course of installation. 
  • Ensure that blades are not obstructed by other objects and are able to turn freely. 
  • The electrical supply must include an isolation switch providing at least 3mm contact separation on all live conductors.  
  • Do not connect the ceiling fan to any dimmer switch or regulator. 
  • Do not place any objects in the path of the blades 
  • Do not install near any of the below: 
    • Flammable areas such as a gas cooker 
    • Oily Areas 
    • Wet and high humidity areas such as a bathroom 
    • Areas that are continuously exposed to the wind 
  • Before using this appliance, it must be ceiling mounted.  The screw pack to mount the appliance to the wall will be available in the box.  
  • If unusual oscillating movement is observed, immediately stop using the ceiling fan and contact the manufacturer, its service agent, or suitably qualified persons.