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Updated October 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best ceiling fan light kits

If you’ve ever looked up at the ceiling fan in a room and thought, “This thing needs a light,” or “This needs a different style of light,” a ceiling fan light kit may be just the thing for you. A ceiling fan light kit allows you to add overhead lighting to a fan or change the type of light that originally came with the ceiling fan.

Adding a ceiling fan light kit sounds like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. However, just like installing a ceiling fan in the first place, there are time-tested steps to picking the correct light kit and installing it safely.

Read on for our buying guide to ceiling fan light kits in which we go over what you need to know to find the correct type and style of light kit for your ceiling fan and some tips for safe and easy installation. Take a look at our favorites too.

ceiling fan light kits
Before starting an install, turn off the power to the ceiling fan at the circuit box and make sure that no power is reaching the ceiling fan.

Key considerations

Safety

Ceiling fan light kits are electrical devices that accessorize another electrical device (the ceiling fan). Before installing a light kit, follow these safety steps:

Read the manual and installation instructions thoroughly.

Turn off the power to the fan’s electrical circuit at the panel.

Test with a circuit tester to confirm that the ceiling fan unit is not receiving electrical power.

Wear gloves and shoes and use insulated tools to reduce the risk of electric shock.

Hire a qualified electrician to complete the job if you have any doubts about safely installing the ceiling light kit yourself.

Energy efficiency

Light kits that are energy efficient reduce the demand for power. Consider an Energy Star-rated ceiling fan light kit, which can be up to 60% more efficient than other units.

Brands

The ceiling fan light kit you are looking for needs to be compatible with the ceiling fan you’re adding it to. Three ceiling fan brands dominate the market in the United States: Emerson, Hampton Bay, and Hunter. There are a few other brands out there, but an off-brand ceiling fan will be harder to match to a light kit, although some universal light kits are available. If you’re not certain what brand of ceiling fan you have, look for the name or brand mark on the fan near or on the central motor housing.

Compatibility

Not all ceiling fans can be adapted to fit a ceiling fan light kit. Knowing the brand and model number of the ceiling fan in your home will prevent you from wasting time and money. If the ceiling fan won’t accept a light kit, you might have to replace the entire unit.

Limited ceiling height? Consider a low-profile ceiling fan light kit to get the illumination you want without having to duck.

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Features

Ceiling fan light kits offer plenty of options, so you can find exactly the right light to match your room décor or lighting needs.

Lamp types

Single: These kits have a single, centered, downward-facing light, often with a dome shade.

Multi-light: These kits have two, three, or four lamps in an outward-facing configuration.

Uplight: Lights in this kit aim up toward the ceiling, providing indirect illumination. If you find direct light too bright or annoying, an uplight can provide good lighting without shining directly in your eyes.

Stemmed: The lights in these kits are set at the end of extended tubes. Stems allow manufacturers to offer attractive décor options and uplighting.

Lampshade types

Bowl/dome: Used with single lamps, a convex glass shade covers the light bulb.

Globe: This is a round lampshade used with single-light kits, although smaller globe shades may be available with multi-lamp configurations.

Frosted or clear: Frosted shades are opaque to hide the bulb inside and provide diffuse light, while clear shades protect the bulb while offering unobscured illumination.

Outdoor vs. indoor

Are you planning to update a patio fan? Choose a light kit with a Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listing that matches the environment it will be used in.

UL Listed: Dry indoor locations only, such as a living room or den

UL Listed for Damp Locations: Locations that occasionally experience high humidity, such as covered porches or near/in bathrooms

UL Listed for Wet Locations: For light kits that make contact with water, such as uncovered patios; water can flow safely over a ceiling fan light kit with this rating.

Bulbs

Not all ceiling fan light kits use standard screw-cap light bulbs. Some have smaller caps for chandelier-type bulbs. Others use pin-connector caps, and one type clicks into place.

Check the packaging and manual for the correct size and wattage of bulbs to be used in your ceiling fan light kit. Note the letter and number (for example, A15, G16, or E12) and refer to this size when ordering bulbs.

LED bulbs save energy and don’t burn out as quickly as incandescent bulbs. Consider using this type of bulb if possible, keeping in mind that some specialty bulbs do not yet have an LED equivalent.

ceiling fan light kits
DID YOU KNOW?
An Energy Star-rated ceiling fan light kit is up to 60% more energy efficient than older kits.
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Accessories

While ceiling fan light kits often include decorative accessories, you might want to customize the ceiling fan further or add elements that make using it more convenient.

Pull chain: SmoTecQ Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Set
This 24-inch chain is a fast, inexpensive way to jazz up your ceiling fan with decorative fobs that easily identify light versus fan switches.

Dimmer switch: Treatlife Smart Ceiling Fan Control and Dimmer Switch
With this inexpensive switch, you can dim the lights and set one of four fan speeds at the wall or through voice commands via Alexa or Google rather than rely on pull chains.

Downrod: Emerson Kathy Ireland HOME Ceiling Fan Downrod
If your room has a high ceiling, you can lower the ceiling fan by a couple of feet to help cool you off. This downrod comes in eight lengths and ten finishes.

Medallion: Ekena Millwork Ceiling Medallion
If you’re updating the ceiling fan with a light kit, add even more style by installing this protective and decorative medallion where the fan wiring emerges from the ceiling.

Be careful when considering a “universal” light kit. Make sure the kit is compatible with the brand and model of ceiling fan you have.

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Pricing

Inexpensive: You can find a dependable ceiling fan light kit for as low as $39 to $59.

Mid-range: For $61 to $72, you can find plenty of manufacturer-compatible light kits that easily attach to ceiling fans that allow a light kit addition.

Expensive: These ceiling fan light kits cost $73 to $89, with a few pricier outliers.

Tips

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This is important for properly and safely installing a ceiling fan light kit.
  • Turn off power to the ceiling fan at the circuit panel before installing the kit.
  • Work safely. Use a stable ladder that is tall enough for you to easily reach the ceiling fan components. An assistant is very helpful for stabilizing the ladder, holding small parts, and handing you tools.
  • Match the wiring on the light kit to the wiring at the ceiling fan outlet.
  • Ensure the pull chains will operate smoothly. When installing the light kit around the pull chains, remove the end fobs and line up the cover plate with the chains before putting in place and securing.
ceiling fan light kits
If you’re in doubt about properly installing a ceiling fan light kit, contact a licensed electrician to handle the job.

FAQ

Q. How does a light kit attach to an existing ceiling fan? Do I need to detach the fan from the ceiling?

A. Many ceiling fans are designed to accept a light kit. The manufacturer’s instructions detail exactly how to attach a compatible light kit; for example, you might simply need to turn off power to the fan at the panel, then unscrew a cover plate at the bottom of the ceiling fan to access pre-positioned wiring for an optional light kit. However, it’s important to find out before purchasing a light kit if the ceiling fan is compatible with the addition.

Q. How do I troubleshoot a ceiling fan light kit that doesn’t work?

A. Make sure the ceiling fan was installed with a third wire ― a blue wire specifically for fan lighting ― at the ceiling outlet. If you aren’t sure, for example, if you moved into a house with existing fans, you need to turn off power to the circuit and carefully detach the fan from the ceiling to see if it has the correct wiring configuration. If no third wire is installed in the fan outlet housing, the outlet itself needs to be replaced. (This is where a qualified electrician comes in very handy because they can quickly and safely install wiring if needed.)

Q. Why wouldn’t someone just buy a ceiling fan with lights? Why is a kit needed later?

A. People have many reasons for leaving off lights initially. They might want to light the room in a different way using a different array of lights. The ceiling fan could be positioned so that a light kit would be in the way of something else, or perhaps it was installed too low. Down the road, lighting plans may change if a room is redecorated or renovated. Being able to install a light kit gives you much more flexibility in lighting options.

Q. How do I confirm that the power has been turned off to a ceiling fan before installing a light kit?

A. Once you’ve switched off the circuit on the panel corresponding to the room or the fan itself, try turning the fan on. It shouldn’t work. This doesn’t completely guarantee that no power is reaching the fan, and in some older houses the wiring is “creative.” To be doubly sure, you can turn off power to the entire home. It’s recommended that you keep a circuit tester in your toolbox. you can test the wiring before handling it to ensure no power is reaching it. And if you’re in doubt, have an electrician install the lighting kit.

Q. How do I keep track of small parts like screws when installing a light kit?

A. Place a small plastic bowl near your work area and keep all small parts in it as you work. An assistant can be a great help here too. They can collect screws, nuts, and other parts as you hand them down and then hand them back to you as you need them. Hardware stores also sell magnetic trays that hold nuts and bolts and keep them from rolling around.

 

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