Ceiling fans are typically installed on an outlet box on the ceiling. The entire weight of the fan is supported by this box, so it needs to be sturdy and able to support that load. But not all outlet boxes can support a ceiling fan, it has to be rated for a fan to safely support its weight. But how do you find if the outlet you already have is up to this task?
If an outlet box is ceiling fan rated it will be marked so on the box by the manufacturer. If your outlet box came with the fan it is definitely ceiling fan rated. If the outlet box was there before you bought the fan, you will have to look at your fan box to see if it is ceiling fan rated or not.
What is an outlet box that is ceiling fan rated
Outlet boxes are made to support the wires leading to ceiling fans or other fixtures on the ceiling. There are outlet boxes made to accommodate different levels of electrical wire connections. Outlet boxes that are made to support heavy fixtures are usually rated as appropriate for supporting ceiling fans as well.
According to the National Electric Code, all ceiling fans that come with a minimum weight of 35 pounds should be installed along with an outlet box that is rated for ceiling fans.
You will have to install the ceiling fan-rated outlet box on the joist of the ceiling fan. Depending on the type of ceiling fan and outlet box you get, you might also be able to install it on the woodblock or the adjusting brace. Outlet boxes that are ceiling fan rated come with adjusting braces and all the pieces you need for a proper installation.
There is not a type of ceiling fan rated outlet box that matches each model of the ceiling fan. Rather than that happening, you will find that all ceiling fan rated outlet boxes are compatible with the majority of ceiling fans on the market. The only detail you want to pay attention to when you purchase an outlet box is the weight of the ceiling fan.
The outlet box and your ceiling fan should be compatible so the installation process shouldn’t create any difficulties. If your outlet box is not matching your ceiling fan, it is not the right outlet box for a ceiling fan.
If you have an older home you may notice that the outlet box for your ceiling fan is a bit different. These boxes could be mounted on a block that is located on the ceiling joist. The box will have to be installed securely on the block with fastened screws on the block’s bottom. If the box is not secured on both sides or if the screws are not staying in place, you will have to stop using it and replace it with a newer model.
How to tell if your outlet box is ceiling fan rated
If you want to identify whether or not your outlet box is rated to support your ceiling fan there are certain ways you can do that. It depends on the model of your outlet box as well as the weight of your ceiling fan and the installation parts required to combine the two products in a way that is secure for your electrical connections.
Check the description of the outlet box
The manufacturer of the outlet box will specify in the description or the instructions of the product if it is a ceiling fan rated outlet box. If you don’t see the mark that says the outlet box is rated for ceiling fan use, chances are that it is not the type of box you need. This is an easy way to apply if your outlet box is new or you bought it recently so you still have access to its original packaging and the instructions it came with.
If you purchased your outlet box before and you don’t have the original box it came with, you can always check the model and contact the manufacturer. By searching the model online you might find just the information you need to decide if it is the right outlet box for your ceiling fan. But older models might not be for sale so going directly to the manufacturer is your best option in this case.
There are outlet boxes that are not labeled as ceiling fan boxes because they were either produced before this norm was implemented or in a region where such labels are not required. If this is the case you will have to check the weight the outlet box supports and the compatibility with your ceiling fan. Make sure the ceiling fan you have comes within the weight limits that your outlet box can support.
Inspect the outlet box to see if it comes with the right parts
If you can’t check the box and instructions of your outlet box or if you can’t contact the manufacturer, you might still be able to identify if your outlet box is the one you need for your ceiling fan. You will have to check the box from the above which means you will need a ladder to have a better view. This is a good way to inspect the outlet box if you have an attic on top of the room where your ceiling fan is installed.
If there is no attic on top of your room, you will have to check your outlet box from below. Even if this is a more difficult way of inspecting your outlet box, you can still do it right.
The first thing you will have to check is the attachment points of your outlet box. Your box could be screwed on the sides to a woodblock or the screws could go through the top of the box into the ceiling fan. Also, you might be able to see a threaded nipple from below in order to determine if the box matches your ceiling fan.
If you have trouble identifying these aspects, it is best to contact an electrician to get a proper inspection. Most ceiling fan rated boxes come with proper instructions and specifications if you purchase them new. Keep them in a safe place so you can access them in the future as you might need them, especially if you replace your ceiling fan.
If your outlet box is not the right one to support your ceiling fan, you expose yourself and your home to a variety of hazards. You could have a short circuit and even risk a fire hazard if the outlet box is not the right one for your electrical needs. Outlet boxes that are not ceiling fan rated shouldn’t be used to support a ceiling fan. Also, if the outlet box you have can’t support the weight of your ceiling fan, you will end up risking having your ceiling fan falling and even hurting someone in your home.
If you think that your outlet box is not made to support your ceiling fan, contact an electrician and install a proper outlet box as soon as possible. Nowadays, it is easier to find outlet boxes that are ceiling fan rated but if you want to use older products, you will need to check the details in this guide to stay on the safe side.