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Ceiling Fan: Can It Be Installed on a Vaulted/Cathedral Ceiling?

I love a tall and spacious ceiling; the effect can be enchanting. But the height can make installing fixtures a bit of a challenge. Yet, nowadays, ceiling fans can be both a functional appliance and a decorative piece, so you likely don’t want to miss out.

Thankfully, a vaulted or cathedral ceiling does not exclude you from the ceiling fan gang; in fact, there are extender rods specifically designed for use with these types of tall ceilings. But with the extra distance, is it worth the trouble to install a fan? While dealing with a few additional steps (literally), it isn’t impossible to install the fan and have it work effectively.


Whilst the height can make installation tricker, there is no reason to avoid installing a fan on vaulted or cathedral ceilings, using the correct junction box and an available joist. However, the height of the ceiling can impact the effectiveness without certain considerations.

Requirement for Ceiling Fan Installation

To install a ceiling fan on any ceiling, you require the correct fan-rated junction box. With the appropriate junction box, you can attach the fan to a nearby joist, even if you have a vaulted- or cathedral-style ceiling.

How Easy Will It Be?

The height of your ceiling can make things more complicated than a typical, flat-ceiling installment.

You will need a tall enough ladder to reach the ceiling. If the ceiling is high enough, you may even need to use some scaffolding if your ladder needs to be unfolded to reach the center of the ceiling.

Once you can get yourself to the ceiling, you must tackle getting the fan up there. You will have to carry the fan all the way up the ladder, meaning you will need a certain amount of strength and stability of balance since no one can hand you the fan once you are at the top.

Aside from the fan, you will also need your equipment to perform the installation. If you have forgotten an item or drop something, it will definitely be more inconvenient with the extra height.

It can also become dangerous depending on what you drop from that height, so make sure to keep children and pets out of the room and try cushioning the floor.

Sloped Ceiling Considerations

You will likely encounter similar difficulties installing a fan on a sloped ceiling. Although, on sloped ceilings, you probably won’t need to climb as high since you are installing the appliance at a point along the slope and not the highest peak.

Ceiling fan on a sloped ceiling

I don’t know about you, but I would say that if you can get high enough with the ladder, the installation might be a little less taxing on your arms. You can work more to the side instead of directly above your head.

But you will still need to reach a significant ceiling height and get the fan and all your tools up there.

Will The Ceiling Fan Be Effective?

Cooling from a ceiling fan relies on the downdraft of air produced being able to blow over people. Thus, the further away people are from the fan, the less the fan will cool them.

The way a fan contributes to heating relies on the gentle displacement of warm air from around the ceiling. The air is distributed to the area below the fan; however, because there is no great speed to this air, it might not get very far down the room before the force of the fan is overpowered by the natural rising of warm air.

This doesn’t mean that the fan won’t be effective, though. There are several factors that can increase or decrease the effectiveness.

Height of the Ceiling Is a Major Factor

The taller your ceiling is, the less effective your fan will be. However, this is relative as some vaulted/cathedral ceilings aren’t much higher than standard ceiling height.

If your ceiling is only slightly taller than 9’, you may not experience much difference in fan effectiveness. On the other hand, if you exceed the recommended floor clearance for optimal fan efficiency by several feet, the fan may be almost useless for cooling.

Extension Rods Will Help

An extension rod is a solution for tall ceilings. Standard mount ceiling fans come with a 3-6”downrod. However, you can order an extension rod for your mount system that ranges between 6” and 120”.

Hunter 26021 24-Inch Downrod, Brushed Nickel

These rods are designed for installing a fan on high ceilings while being able to get closer to the optimal floor clearance. If you are willing to drop the ceiling fan down to 9’ above the floor, your fan will work very well for cooling you. However, this can impact the room’s look as it might artificially lower the ceiling.

If the fan is too far from the ceiling, it cannot effectively work in winter mode, even with an external heat source. Although, if you can only have one setting working well, I recommend it be summer mode, because with high ceilings, this may be the most beneficial direction all year round.

Effectiveness Enhanced with Larger Fan

Larger fans are designed for bigger spaces, so they may be powerful enough to overcome the distance of a vaulted or cathedral ceiling. Larger fans also have bigger blades, which means there is more surface area for moving air.

In summer mode, a larger fan will be powerful enough that the downdraft should be able to travel further to where you are sitting. Hence, you will actually be able to benefit from wind chill instead of the stream dissipating before you feel it.

In winter mode, the stronger fan will have a better chance of overcoming the warm air trying to rise again before it reaches you.

Wall Switch or Remote Control Vital

If you have a vaulted or cathedral ceiling, you will need a wall switch and/or remote control. Getting a ladder out every time to pull the chain switch is not functional, so you definitely need a distance-friendly control.

Illustration of a woman turning on the wall switch of a ceiling fan

Technically, fans with a remote controller don’t need a wall switch, but they can be a nice addition for safety and convenience. The wall switch can act as a fail-safe if the remote or receiver stops working. This is also a  good backup if you tend to lose remotes regularly or it runs out of batteries.

It is worth noting that not all ceiling fans are compatible with wall switches. Direct current fans are exclusively remote-controlled.

Consider the Ease of Maintenance

Ceiling fans require regular maintenance to sustain optimal functioning. With proper care, your fan will last longer and perform more consistently. Included in maintenance is cleaning the fan, and some models have motor bearings that need re-oiling. If you have a light fixture, you will also need to change lightbulbs occasionally.

Remember, if your fan is close to the ceiling, you will need to get up to it the same way as when you install it. So, consider that you will need to reach your fan on a somewhat regular basis. The lower the fan is, the easier it will be to maintain.

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