Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Replacing a ceiling fan with a light fixture

[Content note: hand injury]

In which we replaced a Hampton Bay ceiling fan with a Bel Air lighting fixture.

Our dining room had a Hampton Bay remote-controlled ceiling fan (*) when we purchased our house.

It's a nice fan, but we ran into a problem when the light bulb burned out: there's no obvious way to replace it. The diagram on the side of the housing indicates that you should just turn counter-clockwise, but gripping the handle above the diagram and doing so threatens to twist the fan right out of the ceiling. This proved pretty impossible (in fact, painfully impossible).

I will remember this, Hampton Bay fan.
I will remember this, and I will not forget.

Googling for information on this fan revealed two things:
  1. The way to change the lightbulb is to push directly on the glass dome and give it a counter-clockwise turn.
  2. There were an awful lot of people asking about replacement glass domes on account of theirs somehow getting broken.
We'd been planning to replace this thing for awhile, so it was time for it to go. My mom happened to be visitng from out-of-town, and she jumped at the opportunity to do something that didn't involve driving around in a car all day (thanks mom!).

Getting it off the ceiling was pretty easy with four hands, but I didn't follow the right procedure. Lifting the slip collar revealed two screws and a cotter-pinned bolt. I slipped those out, but the fan was still affixed by three wires. Since it was on its way out anyway, I took a wire cutter to them. That left the fan's mount still affixed to the ceiling. Fondling the darn thing all over finally revealed that a flat, cylindrical collar bayonet-mounted to the mount base was hiding the two ceiling-attachment screws. I got those off and exposed the socket itself.

Time to go, you stupid pain-in-the-rear etc. etc.

The socket was a bit interesting; I was surprised to find a red wire in addition to the white, black, and bare-copper grounding wire that were expected. Quick Googling showed that it's likely a 200v socket (the black and red wires are on different phases of the voltage coming into the house).

It's probably worth noting that after we got the fan off the ceiling, we set it on the floor, on its light dome, and nothing budged. Not even Riley staring at it had any effect.

We replaced the fan with a Bel-Air lighting semi-flush ceiling fixture. Relative to the fan we just removed, the mounting was much easier, with plenty of room inside of it to move wires around. One quirk we ran into: the light itself screws into a cross bar that screws into the ceiling socket, and the cross bar has a diagonally-bent "bridge" piece in the middle.

... a bit like that.
The diagram suggested it should be mounted with the bridge facing up (into the ceiling receptacle), but the position of the words embossed on it and the screw that catches the grounding wire suggested it should be mounted facing down. We assumed it was an error in the documentation and mounted it facing down, and everything worked out okay.

We followed standard protocol (black to black, white to white, ground to every bit of exposed metal). Only issue we ran into was that it turns out the black wire doesn't run through the light switch in the room; we needed to shift the black line to the red wire to actually get the switch to control the light.

Just about ready to seal up.
I like this fixture; it throws a ton of (admittedly, fluorescent) light in the room. I don't expect it to be compatible with my X10 home automation systems without a bit of reworking on them, sadly; many X10 controllers include a resistance sensor on the load side to detect the load being switched on and off (say, if company comes over, tries to turn a lamp on by pulling the cord, and can't figure out why it won't go on). That resistance sensor puts low current across the load, which is invisible on an incandescent bulb but makes a fluorescent pulse. C'est la vie. It's still nice to see in the dining room again.

Only last bit of work to do was cleaning the lamp dome; the dome came with two stickers attached, and darned if they didn't demand Goo Gone and elbow grease to clean off.

On the plus side, you can clean a lamp dome in your undershirt and nobody criticizes.
The lamp dome is supported by plastic and metal washers and screws onto the support rod easily. I like the look!

End result: I'm happy! I can definitely recommend the Bel Air; simple to install, bright as hell. Only downside is the bulbs are unusual; 3.13-watt GU24 bayonet-mounted bulbs. First time I've ever seen them.
But it looks great!

(*) link note: diagram and documentation suggests this is the same model by a different vendor; unable to find the original on homedepot's website, but if you have need of the original, it's Upc 792145350767 / SKU 589-382 / Model # AC-527.