Lights and Ceiling Fans

Changing the lighting or ceiling fans can completely change the look of a room. They can be subtle and give a soft glow, or blind you with the brightness of the sun! Lights and ceiling fans are a part of every home we live it. You can get as simple or as intricate as your taste allows and there will be something out there that fits your needs. 


I do not know if it’s just me, but walking down the lighting isle in any hardware store makes me a little crazy. I mean how many types of light bulbs can you have? Besides the various shapes of the bulb itself there are differences in the glass, filament, brightness, bulb types… and the list goes on and on. Instead of trying to explain everything here in this small space I will send you over to the pros. This website gives a great education about lighting and what type of lighting you may want to place in different rooms. Check out Westinghouse products as well, they have been around for quite a while:

For bulbs color recommendation in various rooms check out: 

In regards to the light fixtures themselves, they typically all mount with two screws which are connected to a bracket in the ceiling box. Sometimes if you are lucky the new light fixture uses the same size bracket as the light being removed and it makes the job go a little faster. Light fixtures are an easy way to upgrade a room without a lot of headache or cost to you.

Ceiling Fans

Just like lights, there is an array of ceiling fans to choose from. You can find a builders choice fan at your local box store for $35 a piece or go to a Phillips specialty lighting store and spend $500 on a fan. At day’s end it all comes down to your style. Most of the ceiling fans I install for customers are from your local hardware store where there is a vast selection to choose from. A price range of  $80-150 will give you a fan with a good lifespan. I have seen fans last 25 years in some homes. Of course life span all has to do with how much the fan is used but you should get at the very least 10 years from a fan in that price range.

Fan Boxes

Not all electrical boxes are created equal! In most new construction homes the electrical boxes in the ceiling are designed to carry the weight of a ceiling fan. Most of the plastic boxes located in ceilings are rated for 50lbs maximum. This pretty much covers all light fixtures. However, with ceiling fans not only do you have the weight of the fan itself, but the fan is moving and therefore possibly causing movement in the electrical box. There is a much greater chance of cracking a plastic box than there is a steel box. 

In older homes some of the boxes in the ceiling are plastic boxes. These boxes should be removed and replaced with a steel box before hanging a fan. This may require going into the attic and removing the old box and installing a new one. There are some kits available that allow you to install the box from inside the room. This usually works well if the stars align. As we know there is always something that comes up when it comes to home improvement projects. 

Fan Height

The standard ceiling height is 8’. Some homes go up from there but it’s not too often you run into a room with lower ceilings. The building code states that ceiling fan blades should be at least 7’ from the ground. Notice that I said the fan blades; this does not include the light kit if one is installed on the fan. Typically fans come with a 3-4” down rod unless you purchased a surface mount specific fan. If the fan is mounted using the down rod supplied by the manufacturer it usually puts the blades at 7’. This should be checked before final installation just to make sure. However, fan blades at 7’ make some folks uncomfortable. In this scenario mount the fan without the down rod provided. You will want to make sure the fan you purchased can be surface mounted in addition to using a down rod. Some fans only allow installation with a down rod and you don’t find out until it’s too late. 

Fan Rotation

Every fan has a switch on the motor housing to control direction of rotation. This switch should be moved twice a year, summer and winter. Fan rotation helps move the warm air down in the winter and cool air up in the summer. 

Fan Wiring

Most fans with light kits contain two pull chains. One chain controls the lights and the other controls the fan speed. Unless ordering a special fan, most come with a three speed switch. On a side note, if the speed control or light control stop working it is possible to buy just the switch and replace it inside the fan. Older homes were wired mostly with only one switch controlling the fan box therefore it was necessary to actually use the pull chains on the fan. I am finding that in new construction, areas where the builder is assuming a fan will be installed they are already wiring two switches in the wall. One switch controls the lights, the other controls the fan blades. In order to get this type of control with a room that has a single switch another one would have to be wired in. Alternatively a remote control fan kit can be purchased and installed. The switch on the wall just turns power on/off to the receiver box which then is controlled by the remote.  

kevin moules owner of dynamic handyman solutions in turlock

Kevin Moules

Owner of Dynamic Handyman Solutions