The frames for suspended or drop ceilings cannot support the weight of a ceiling fan without reinforcement, and standard ceiling tiles break under the weight of these heavy fixtures. Poorly balanced fans may introduce excessive vibration and cause the frame to fail. Most manufacturers don't build fans specifically for drop ceilings, but options are available that let you safely mounting standard ceiling fans to a drop ceiling.
Building codes require a minimum of 84 inches from the floor to the bottom of the fan blades. Only use electrical boxes designed to support ceiling fans. When the electrical box is installed using a grid mounting kit, electrical codes require the use metal-clad cable with a ground wire to connect the box to the electrical system. If the box is mounted to the ceiling grid or extended framing, the bottom of the box must be flush with the bottom of the ceiling tile.
The ceiling-fan electrical box is fastened directly to a joist or to a bar installed between joists above the drop ceiling. A ceiling-fan down rod connects to the box and extends down through the ceiling tile. The ceiling fan attaches to the down rod. This system eliminates the need for heavy-duty grid supports and isolates the ceiling from vibration. Correctly placing and cutting the hole in the tile for the extension rod takes time and the end result may be less attractive than other options because the hole edges are unfinished.
A frame made from two-by-four lumber that extends the structural framing above the ceiling down so that the bottom of the electrical box is flush with the bottom of the ceiling tile is another option. The fan mounts directly to the electrical box and the fan's trim piece covers the hole in the tile. This method provides a sturdy mount. The final appearance is better than using an extension rod because the hole is covered by the trim.
Grid Mounting Kit
Grid mounting kits consist of main three parts. A bar installs above the tile and connects to the drop ceiling grid. The electrical box connects to the bar. A chain, cable or wire attaches the box to the joist structure above the grid to support the fan. Grid mounting kits are the easiest way to install a ceiling fan with a safe and secure mounting system. The final installation looks good, but the drop ceiling is not isolated from vibration -- choose a well-balanced fan for the best result with this method.
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