Dear PoPville – How Much does it cost to Install a Porch Fan?

“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if you could ask the readers for advice on installing a porch ceiling fan. As far as I know, we don’t have any wiring up there, but I would love to be able to create a breeze for cooling and mosquito-repelling purposes. Some questions I have are: would it actually keep mosquitoes at bay (it sounds like it from comments from the mosquito post a couple of weeks ago), how much would it cost to get the wiring fixed, etc.”

25 Comment

  • I had an outdoor fan installed on my porch for $380, not including the cost of the fan. The work included running electrical through the ceiling for both the fan and another light fixutre. It was worth every penny, as it keeps the porch cool and does ward off bugs.

  • Aside from the cost of the fan, its no different than adding a light anywhere else. Some of the materials may be slightly more expensive since the portion outside will need to use stuff that is approved for being used outdoors.

    That said, if you have an ounce of interest/ability, you could read up on it, make sure you get the required materials, and do it yourself, with very little trouble.

    Running the wire could be difficult, depending on your specific situation – but that will eitehr increase the time if you do it yourself, or increase the money if you hire it.

    I would expect it to be no more than 400-500 bucks minus the cost of the fan. Maybe significant less. So much depends on the specifics.

    • I think you could probably wire it off of the line for an exterior light too … if you have one, that is

      • exactly. Could be straightforward, could be convoluted.

        Either way, actually doing it is pretty easy. Just make sure you understand basic circuits first and know what type of wire/switches to buy….

        • OP here. The most electrical work I’ve done was removing a light fixture (and needing to call in someone else to put the new one up; it was antique and tricky). We do have a porch light and a grounded outlet on the porch; however those are both in the brick on the front of the house, not on the porch. Can that still work? And could a total novice really learn how to do that?

          • Basically, you just need to run a wire from the location of a hot wire to the location you want the fan to be. A lot of people, when dealing with masonry, opt to run a surface mount conduit. If you want the wire behind brick, it will take more effort and i cant say for sure how you would have to do it.

            I’m not sure what you mean about the outlet. Is it on the side of the house that you want the fan?

            If so, the easiest route might be satisfying to you. If the outlet is in a discrete place, you could run a small conduit from there across the brick (assuming this is a short distance) and then up the least seen side of one of the roof supports, then into the roof of the porch, and across.

            This may not work for your tastes or due to your set up it may just be absurdly ugly – but I’d definitely consider it if I had to run a wire in masonry.

            The alternative is running it through the interior wall and then busting through the brick somewhere. Thats pretty straightforward too, but it can be a huge pain in the ass for a number of reasons.

          • If you have the grounded outlet in a normal weatherproof box then, yes, it’s not that difficult. Not Home Wiring 101 either, though; if you have any doubts get a pro. You may need to replace the existing outlet box and then should be able to run conduit (proper exterior conduit) along the wall/porch ceiling to the fan. Much cleaner to do a run inside the wall but not completely necessary. Is the outlet box switched? If not you’ll need to add one downstream somewhere for the fan.

          • Run a wire from the basement, so you don’t have the wire or its encasement showing by your pretty light. Could run it under the porch and up the side of the column facing the house, then along the front porch beam and then over to the light. If your porch is similar to the one pictured.

        • We have one rule on home improvements in my house:

          No electrical DIY

          • You should explore doing things yourself, if you took high school physics, and can read up on what the code requires, and you can brush up on circuits, it shouldnt be scary at all.

            Its really hard to screw up as long as you follow the rules.

          • Not saying any of you are incapable of doing basic home wiring, but don’t you technically need a licensed electrician to do any sort of wiring beyond the basics, like replacing a switch or a fixture? I know it’s that way in some other jurisdictions where I’ve lived.

          • You technically need a lot of things in DC to do most home improvements. In fact, I think even swapping out a switch you need one.

            You need a permit to replace over 6 sheets of drywall… you need one to put in a dishwasher. You need one for a lot of things

  • While you’re at it, be sure to paint the porch ceiling haint blue.

  • The electrical aspect is pretty straightforward, but running the wiring itself could be tricky. If there is no existing porch light, and your house is old construction, it would probably require fishing a wire up through the foyer/entranceway interior wall and drilling a hole in the facade. If your basement is finished, this could be quite difficult (assuming your breaker box is in the basement).

  • ooh … and you need to hang that fan on a beam too … not the ceiling material!

    • Good point. the between-joist fan hangers seem to work well if you don’t want to open up the ceiling and install a proper bracing block.

  • and if you are in a historic district, surface conduit is forbidden.

  • as we usually do for home improvement projects, we hired a day laborer (this one with electrical work experience) and he put in our fan on the porch for 100 bucks. Home depot.

    • And when the house burns down from an electrical fire you have no recourse and you’ll feel mighty tiny telling your insurance company your “licensed, bonded and insured electrical contractor” was a salvadoran from the HD parking lot.

      • everyone always says this, yet we’ve been doing it for over a decade and always get high quality work for a lower price.

        and the “licensed, bonded and insured electrical contractors” usually just hire workers (some Salvadoran) from the HD parking lot anyway.

  • If you install it yourself it is not that expensive. And regardless of cost it is sooo worth it. It makes the front porch experience so much better especially in the summer time.

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