I have had a hanging light fixture in the middle of the living room which I now want to replace with a ceiling fan+light. Nothing huge and fancy... but a hunter nonetheless.

The old pan box was, old (complete with knob & tube which I will not be re-using):

old pancake box

It was stuck in this hole in the ceiling (screwed to an old oak board that is jambed tight between joists):

hole in ceiling

So my question is... will this box work:

enter image description here

Is it valid? If I bolt it to the old oak board using 4 hex screws (probably number 10s)?

With the oak board in the ceiling how it is, I don't really have room to use one of those hefty giant metal-bar contraptions.

  • "an old oak board that is jambed tight between joists" If the board is not screwed or otherwise fastened to the joists then I would be concerned it would loosen up, especially if a fan is mounted to it. Jan 13, 2020 at 20:19
  • Sorry, I meant fastened. Its nailed in from both ends. Very tight. Looks to have been put in before the lath went up. Well, "appears nailed" ... from what I can see with my endoscope. Same way the X boards are all nailed in between the joist too in a few spots. They didn't use screws back in the 20s. I MIGHT be able to add more screws. Jan 13, 2020 at 20:22
  • 1
    When looking for the "right" box, it will be stamped as "ceiling fan support" or similar on the inside.
    – JPhi1618
    Jan 13, 2020 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


Pictured is a random one dollar 4" octagon box.

That is acceptable for a lamp, but won't do at all for a ceiling fan box.

Since you're rewiring anyway, you'd be better off to spend a latté worth of cost to put a ceiling fan box here and use /3 cable from the switch. That way the next occupant has a choice about putting a ceiling fan here. Obviously the last occupant thought it was worthwhile.

  • Thanks. Wasn't sure on this box (I have a dozen of them in the basement). But you confirmed my suspicion. I already have an armored 3wire cable run from the switch, so it can control light/fan with a lutron. Just need to find the right box replacement! Jan 13, 2020 at 20:50
  • @IncredibleHat It should be easy. You don't need the special features of most fan boxes where they brace to nearby joists; the horizontal board is there to do that for you. So it just needs to be a fancypants version of that octagon box with the correct nipples etc. Jan 13, 2020 at 20:54
  • Yeah. I think I was more on the edge of "well if I have a dozen of THESE.... will they work and save me a trip out to the hardware?" ;) Thanks again. Jan 13, 2020 at 20:57

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