Ceiling Fan Wiring – A Ceiling Fan Wiring Guide

Step by Step Instructions on How to Wire a Ceiling Fan Wiring Kit

By Mark J. Donovan

If the ceiling fan electrical box is already installed and the rough electrical wiring is feeding the box, then wiring a ceiling fan is a pretty simple task.

Just make sure to turn off the circuit breaker feeding the electrical box at the main circuit panel first.

Also make sure to use a circuit tester to confirm the wires in the ceiling fan electrical box are indeed un-powered prior to touching the wires with your hands.

Use Correct Sized Wire Nuts

Like any other type of electrical fixture that’s installed in your home it’s important when wiring a ceiling fan to use proper sized wire nuts when making all the electrical ceiling fan wiring connections. The ceiling fan wiring kit should have included the correct wire nut sizes.

No Exposed Bare Copper Wire 

Moreover make sure no bare copper wire is exposed after making connections with wire nuts. This means only have about 5/8 inch of bare copper wire exposed when twisting wires together with wire nuts.

For most home ceiling fan wiring the electrical box should have either 14 or 12 gauge solid copper wire in it. 

How to install a ceiling fan.

14 gauge wire is for 15 amp 120VAC circuits and 12 gauge wire is for 20 amp 120VAC circuits. The copper wires are sheathed in a cable (Romex Cable) and include a black, white and bare copper wire.

If using a 14-3 or 12-3 cable (see my article on Romex Cable) then there will be a fourth red wire in the cable. Black and red wires in the cable are used for “hot” wires and the white wire is used for “return” or “neutral”. The bare copper wire is the ground wire and should normally be tied to the ceiling fan chassis and associated ground wire. Normally there is a green screw on the chassis that the bare copper wire attaches to.

Wiring Ceiling Fan

The typical ceiling fan has either 4 or 3 sheathed wires plus a bare ground wire. The standard colors are black, white, and green, and if there is a 4th wire it is typically red, blue or black/white striped. Check the wiring fan diagram that came with the ceiling fan.

As explained earlier the black wire is considered the “hot” wire and it is used for feeding the ceiling fan motor.

The other red, blue, or black/white striped wire is a “hot” lead for an optional light kit for the ceiling fan, if there is indeed a light kit for the fan. 

The white wire is the return wire (or neutral wire) for both the ceiling fan motor and the light fixture.

The green wire is the ground wire that again attaches to the green screw on the ceiling fan chassis. However, the bare copper wires should first be twisted together with the electrical box’s bare copper wire. Use a “greeny” wire nut that has a hole in the end of it. This way one of the two bare copper wires can be funneled through the hole after they’ve been twisted together. This one wire then is attached to the green screw on the ceiling fan chassis.

Start wiring the ceiling fan by connecting all the white wires together with a wire nut. This includes the electrical box’s white wire along with the ceiling fan and associated light fixture white wires. Make sure that the end of each wire is exposed by about 5/8 of an inch so that the copper is showing. Then twist them together using a wire nut.

Next connect the hot wires together. Start by twisting together the electrical box’s black wire (or red wire) with the ceiling fan’s black wire, and secondary hot wire if there is an associated light fixture integrated into the ceiling fan.

If there is a light kit built into the ceiling fan you may also want to consider powering the light off of a switch. In this case there will have to be a second cable bundle coming into the ceiling fan electrical box that has the wires associated with the switch.

The black wire in this bundle will feed the hot wire associated with the ceiling fan light and the white wire in this bundle will need to tie in with the other white “neutral” wires. Similarly the bare ground wire associated with the switch cable bundle will also need to be twisted together with the other bare ground wires.

After completing the ceiling fan wiring, fasten the ceiling fan to the electrical box and turn power back on to the ceiling fan electrical box back at the main circuit panel. With any luck your ceiling fan should now be operational.

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Related Information

Additional Electrical Wiring Resources from Amazon.com

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