Introduction: LED Retrofit for Quartz Halogen Ceiling Fan Light
Recently we bought a new house, well new to us anyway. It came with the walls painted in a number if interesting (but acceptable) shades; and, more importantly for the purposes of this instructable, a few nice ceiling fans.
I'm a big LED believer, and I want my house to be 100% LED lit. With many ceiling fans converting them to LED is just a matter of swapping out the bulbs, but with others the light is more integrated with the fan and uses a quartz halogen bulb. Quartz bulbs where great in 1985, they are small, relatively cheap, insanely bright, and slightly more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs.
But this is a new century and I do want 100% LED efficiency in my house. There are no direct LED replacement bulbs for those quartz halogen buggers, so what to do?
Disclaimer. This instructable includes working with mains power, that's 120V here in the US. 120V can shock you. It can shock you and kill you. It can shock you and make you fall off your ladder and kill you. Be sure and turn off your breaker before working with wiring, and use a non-contact voltage detector to verify it is off. If you're not comfortable with your electrical abilities, don't attempt this.
Step 1: Survey the Interior
The light on this particular ceiling fan is about 12 inches in diameter, which is quite roomy. Quartz lights often are roomy inside because the bulb is so blazing hot the extra space give the heat room to dissipate.
On the inside the usable diameter is... Oh crap, look at that! Those aren't quartz bulbs at all. They are some weird kind of incandescent that have been crammed in there. And the wire nuts are blackened and cracked. As soon as I saw this situation I declared the fixture unsafe for use and clipped the wires. Upgrading to LED suddenly became mandatory.
Now what am I to do for LEDs?
Step 2: The Perfect LED Replacement
Since there are no suitable LED bulbs for a fixture like my ceiling fan has, I decided to just replace the entire guts of the ceiling fan's light with guts scavenged from a cheap LED flush mount ceiling light, as shown. This Hyperikon LED light is 12" in diameter, but from the illustrations I figured the actual guts of it were around 10 inches dia. From Amazon it was a very reasonable $29.99.
Look at those lovely guts. A central round LED power supply, and a doughnut of an LED board encrusted with dozens of surface mount LEDs. Everything is held in with just a few screws. This should work perfect.
From the reviews I could tell two things about the LED fixture's description that were probably not true. They say it's dimmable (it's not, at least not with my existing dimmer) and that it's instant on (it takes 0.5 seconds). Neither of those things actually bother me, so on with it...
Step 3: Gut the Old Fan Light
Not much to this step, gut it. Make sure the power is off! You should be left with little more than two wires sticking out.
The fan is still attached to the ceiling, so I'm working upside down.
The black metal bracket that held the old light sockets, and the silver reflector dish aren't needed anymore either, but that damn nut holding them in proved impossible to budge. In the end I found I could work around them.
Step 4: Mount the New LED Power Supply and the LED Board
By this point, I've unmounted the whole ceiling fan from the ceiling, and braced it upside down between two chairs, so I'm no longer working upside down.
Be sure and remove the nasty fiberglass matting. Don't touch this stuff with your hands; use some kind of pliers, and dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag. Wad some adhesive tape up, sticky side out, and use it to thoroughly wipe all the little glass splinters out of your fixture.
The new LEDs have their own round power supply that must be used. I thought of several ways to try mounting it, but ended up using brass stand-off spacers of the type used to mount mother boards in PCs. Two of them held the power supply out just enough to allow the wires from the ceiling fan to snake under it.
I cut the wires to all be as short as possible, and used new (not blackened cracked) wire nuts. The new LED light came with wire nuts, so no cost there.
The LED board is incredibly light (<- ha! Did you see what I did there?). So at this point I just taped it onto the old reflector dish with four bits of black electrical tape. Later I replace the electrical tape with double stick foam tape all around the LED board.
Step 5: Time to Test!
Look, there's light! Terrible flickering, flashing, strobing even, light! The picture doesn't do justice to the wacked out stuff the LED light was doing. I should have taken a video, but frankly I was worried that something bad would happen to the LED power supply if I left it running.
I deduced that, as many of the Amazon reviews had stated, this LED is not dimmable. Even at 100% brightness, the new LEDs would not work correctly. Clearly something else had to be done.
Step 6: Begone Dimmer, Begone!
My fan is one of those radio controlled fans, with a little remote controller stuck on the wall next to the switch. This one controller handles both the fan and the light. Obviously it could not handle the new LED guts.
Fortunately for me, my ceiling junction box had been wired specifically for a ceiling fan. That mean that there are two switches on the wall, one for the fan, and one for the light. In the junction box there are four wires: white (neutral), black (hot, for the fan), red (hot, for the light), and bare metal (ground for safety).
I made a quick trip to the hardware big box store and got a Lutron Diva 3-way fan control for around $23. The Lutron fan controller replaced the ordinary switch that had controlled the fan. The light switch I left alone.
Then I pulled out the radio control unit. The radio control unit on this fan is tucked up into the ceiling mounting bracket. On some ceiling fans the control unit is integrated into the fan and removing it might not be an option.
With the radio control unit out of the way, hardwiring the fan is fairly easy. The basic wiring goes like this: fan white to box white, fan black to box black (verify that the black box wire is the one going to your new fan controller), fan blue wire to box red wire. If the fan has a green ground wire, it goes to the bare wire. Use wire nuts and be neat.
Now the fan is on a wired speed controller, and the new LED light is on just a switch. As I said, I don't care about dimming the light.
Step 7: Finished
And there it is, done. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the fan's light is now much more even and brighter than it was before. Even more important, it's now 16 watts instead of 100+ watts. The cost was a reasonable $55 or so and I'm very pleased with the results. I'll be doing the same to one of the bedroom fans next.