How to assemble a ceiling fan that doesn't wobble

I've installed a number of ceiling fans, both in my house and for family members.   The slowest part of installation was always getting the blades "balanced" so the fan didn't wobble.

The problem actually isn't blade weight being balanced - every blade in the box weighs almost exactly the same as every other blade in that box.   The real problem is blade angle.   If all the blades run in exactly the same plane, the fan runs without wobble.   If one blade runs at a slightly different angle, the perfect circle that the blades should run in is disrupted and the fan wobbles.   For a visible example, take a Frisbee(tm) that flies well and step on one edge to create a discontinuity in the top surface.   Your flying disc will not fly as smoothly as before.

The easiest way to ensure that all the blades have the same angle is to assemble the blades to the arms with exactly the same torque on every blade-to-arm mounting screw.   With three screws per blade and four to six blades per fan, this is difficult to do by hand - you probably will not get exactly the same torque on screw number 18 as you had on screw number 1 because at some point your hand will give out ;-)

I discovered the solution while installing a fan for my daughter.   It was a hot (as in 100+F) day in July and I was installing the fan on a screened porch (out of the sun but still in the heat).   As a concession to the heat, I used my drill/driver (at its lowest torque setting) to tighten the screws holding the blades to the arms.   When the fan was turned on, it ran with no wobble on the lower speeds and such a small amount of wobble on the highest speed that I didn't think it could be improved on.

So buy, beg, or borrow an adjustable drill/driver to assemble your next ceiling fan and enjoy the smooth running...

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Copyright © 2007 John E. Carter
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