I want need a ceiling fan in my living room. I looked at a few wiki-how type articles on installing them, and it looks like they need more than 2 wires, but when I opened up the light fixture on my ceiling, it looked like it only had 2 wires, a white one and black one.

enter image description here

My apartment is pretty old. When I looked up there with a flashlight I could see a ceiling joist right next to this box, so I think it is strong enough to hold it. Do I have everything I need electrically here to install a ceiling fan?


Electrically, yes. A ceiling fan works just like a typical light fixture (in most cases), when you flip the switch the fan turn on (assuming the pull chain switch is in the proper state).

Installing a ceiling fan is the same procedure as hooking up any light fixture (Turn off the breaker first!), simply connect the black (hot) from the ceiling (should be controlled by the switch) to the black on the ceiling fan. Then connect the white (neutral), to the white on the ceiling fan. If the fan has a light kit you'll notice an extra blue wire (color may vary), hook this one up to the black (hot) from the ceiling along with the black from the fan. Then twist all bare/green (ground) wires together, and ground them as per the direction that came with the fan.

Structurally, maybe not. Keep in mind the electrical box that is currently there was designed to hold the weight of a typical light fixture (a couple pounds max), not a ceiling fan (15-50 lbs). It's possible the electrical box itself will hold the fan, but I wouldn't put any of my family members under it. they make "Old work ceiling fan boxes", that come with a brace that spans between the joists to hold the extra weight of a ceiling fan. The brace bar expands and contracts, so you can stick it up in the hole (after you remove the old electrical box) and then expand it until it bites into the joists. Then you'll hang the new electrical box from this brace, and install the fan as usual.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    +1 for the old work ceiling fan box. I recently added 2 fans in my older home, and was unaware of the brace bar that spans the joists. Instead, I very carefully and painfully replaced the old box with a 'new work fan box' (the kind that nails into a joist) and only damaged a tiny portion of the ceiling on one of them. – DTest Jul 9 '11 at 16:05

The other guides where you were seeing with more wires may have been for wiring up a fan with a light and being able to control the two individually.

If you are going with a fan only or the ceiling is low enough where you will be able to reach the pull cords to control the fan and light directly on the fan, then hot and ground should be all you need.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.