Need suggestions on how best to mount my ceiling fans


Old 10-26-11, 06:44 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
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Need suggestions on how best to mount my ceiling fans

I have a family room where right in the middle is a laminated beam 8" wide, 16" tall, and 30 feet long. The beam is being supported by steel columns on both ends. Structurally it is solid.

I would like to mount three ceiling fans at the bottom of this beam. I have explored mounting them to the sloped wooded ceiling, but not sure I like the look.

I have ran NM-b wires to the beam, three ways so I can turn on and off the fans and/or lights from either side of the room. I am debating if I should use EMT since I have used EMT everywhere else. Right now the NM-b runs along the top of the beam so it's out of sight.

However, I am a bit unsure how I would mount the actual fans themselves.

If I want the "canopy" of the fan to be centered on the beam, my choices are:

(a) Drill three holes (one for each fan) 16" long through the center of the beam to pass the wires through. Then use a shallow pan box to mount to the bottom of beam, then the fan. I really do not like to drill three 1/2" holes to pass wires. I don't want to do anything to weaken the beam, even though I have already consulted an engineer that it would not cause any structural problems.

(b) run the wires down one side of the beam down and mount a box at the bottom, then the fan. Conceal the wires with something...not sure what, may be those metal wire channel organizer, or a custom wood profile, I am not sure I like the sight of wires running down the sides either.

Any thoughts? Any other options?

Last edited by MiamiCuse; 10-26-11 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 10-26-11, 07:01 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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If you have room on the top of the beam, where the perlins cross it, run either EMT or 700 Wiremold on the top of the beam. Then place a box (octagon or 4"x4") on top of the beam, facing up, above where the fan(s) will be mounted. Drill through the center and run a single 12/3 or 14/3 down to the fan box on the bottom of the beam. You will come out the center of the top mounted boxes.

BTW - Nice looking ceiling!
Old 10-27-11, 09:54 AM
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I love the look of that ceiling! I have a couple thoughts.

1. Run a brown wiremold down the center of the beam on the underside. It won't be great, it won't be awful.

2. Match the species of wood and fabricate a wooden "false bottom" channel on the underside of the beam that will contain the wiring and the fan boxes, it will just make the beam look ~1" taller. You could probably hire a local cabinet maker or a good finish carpenter if your woodworking skills aren't up to it.

3. Run the wiring on the top of the beam in wiremold or emt and drill small channels vertically through the beam. If you keep it small (like 1/2") there shouldn't be any structural issue. Just make absolutely sure you're drilling vertical - blowing your spade bit out the side of the beam would be a disaster.
Old 10-27-11, 08:52 PM
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Thanks for the compliments.

After thinking it through, I am concerned about drilling three vertical holes through this beam. I would prefer to avoid any vertical holes which would weaken the beam. Also I question whether I can really drill 16" from standing on a ladder upside down and not wobble or wander.

I am now thinking the following options, A and B as depicted in my sketch below.

A - to drill a 1/2" hole at an angle from the center of the beam below to the side. Then I will pass a NM-b wire through this hole to the mounted electrical box. I would have to find a way to conceal about 2/3 of the side. May be a strip of wood on the side or something.

B - to use EMT pipe to run on the back side of the beam, totally exposed and paint the pipe to make it look like oil rubbed bronze. Not too excited about this look.

C - is to follow ibpooks's advice to run it along the bottom and build a false bottom, but that's thirty feet long.
Old 10-28-11, 07:03 AM
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, In my opinion, you're working youself up over the wrong problem.

Trust your engineer. Here's why:
That laminated beam consists of some number (4? 5?) of narrower laminates that have been glued under pressure with grain running in opposite directions. Even if the hole you drill completely spans one of the laminates (1/2" probably won't), the surrounding portions will carry the load.

There are maximum hole sizes that can be drilled in engineered products such as this beam. You can confirm the advice you were given by looking up the specs on the manufacturer's website.

I favor Tolyn's suggestion as the one that minimizes disturbing the appearance of the room, and if it were my project, whether for myself or a customer, that is exactly how I would do it. But, of your two illustrations, B is less obnoxious.
Old 10-28-11, 08:25 PM
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IF you do not want to drill the beam (and I don't blame you) running a single piece of 700 wiremold down the bottom, centered in the middle of the beam, might not look as bad as you think. It can also be painted. 3 x 10' pieces will cost you only about $30-40.
You see it in churches all the time.

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