Installing An Outdoor Ceiling Fan

Outdoor ceiling fan in a wood room.

For decks and patios with solid roofs, an outdoor ceiling fan is a great addition to keep the air moving and things cool. Installing an outdoor ceiling fan does require working with electricity and feeding wires. If you do not feel comfortable with this part, then hire an electrician to run the wires. However, with some planning, knowledge, and precautions, this is a task most do-it-yourselfers can tackle. Here are some pointers to get you started in installing your outdoor ceiling fan.

Step 1 - Plan

The first step is to choose your ceiling fan. In addition to the style, size, and color you want, make sure the fan you choose has a damp rating. This should be noted on the front corner of the box. Damp rated means that it is suitable for outdoor use. You will also need to map out where you plan to mount your fan. Measure to the center point of your ceiling if appropriate and mark the location. Double check to ensure the blades will not come into contact with lights, beams, or other obstacles. Also, make sure your ceiling is tall enough that the fan can safely circulate without endangering anyone’s head.

Make sure your electricity is off. Flip the circuit breaker providing power and test any wires to make sure they are not live.

For porches with a ceiling rather than exposed rafters, use a circular hole saw to drill a hole for the ceiling fan brace and electrical box. Make sure that the hole is not larger than the base of your ceiling fan or the hole will show after installation. A 4-inch hole saw is used for most ceiling fan applications.

Step 2 - Install Wiring

With your fan home and the location pinpointed, it’s time to begin the installation. Begin by running the electrical wiring from the circuit to the location where your fan will go. You can either run the wiring directly to the circuit box or wire it to plug into an electrical outlet nearby. You may also choose to run the wiring to a light switch. This step may require pulling wires through the wall or crawling into the attic to route wires between destinations.

Step 3 - Install Electrical Box

Once the rough wiring is in place you can install the electrical box. If you have exposed beams then you can just mount the box to the joists. Otherwise, insert your ceiling brace into the hole. Stretch it out as necessary and mount it to the rafters. Typically the brace presses into the cross beams on either side of the hole. This brace holds the box for your ceiling fan. If you cannot maneuver it into place from below the hole, you may need to crawl above it. Follow the directions that came with your fan to attach your electrical box to the brace, pulling your wires through before mounting it. This is a simple matter of attaching a bracket. Then you will slide the box onto the screws and rotate it slightly before tightening the screws.

Step 4 - Assemble Fan

A ceiling fan in a four seasons room.

Most of the time ceiling fans do not come assembled. You will have to assemble the blades and any lighting features your fan might have. Follow the directions for your particular model and ensure all bolts and screws are tight as you assemble.

Step 5 - Install Outdoor Ceiling Fan

Once you have the fan assembled, mount the base to the electrical box. You will need to pay special attention to the wiring, matching up the appropriate wires as you go. Use wire connectors to attach wires together and make solid connections. Secure the fan tightly to the electrical box so the fan will not shake once in motion. Once in place, turn your circuit back on and ensure the fan moves freely without excess vibration. Install your light bulbs and make sure your lighting works as expected.

Ceiling fans are a great way to bring some of the indoors, outdoors. With a relaxing airflow, your fan will help turn your stuffy porch into a calming oasis perfect for sipping lemonade.