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Ceiling Fan Downrods | Are They Universal?

With the exception of flush mount fans, which are not the most common type, all ceiling fans require a downrod. Downrods serve as a link between the ceiling fan assembly and the mounting elements. 

Downrods also help to stabilize the fan and reduce the risk of wobbling. For a downrod to function optimally, it needs to fit perfectly into the fan. Here is a detailed guide on the features to look out for when purchasing a downrod for your ceiling fan.

Ceiling fan downrods are not truly universal. One rod can fit multiple fans, but it will not fit all fans. Ceiling fans differ in how the downrod is connected, the diameter, rating, length, and appearance.

Ceiling Fan Downrods Are Not Universal

Ceiling fans come in different designs and downrods are part of the ceiling fan assembly, so they are structured to fit into whatever fan they are designed for. 

There is a level of overlap in that one downrod may fit multiple fans, but it will not fit all fans.

As a result, there are no universal designs for downrods and it would be best to purchase one designed for your fan’s model by the manufacturer of the fan. 

How Downrods Can Vary

Although most downrods look the same, certain elements distinguish them.

White three-bladed ceiling fan

Examples of things you need to pay attention to while searching for a replacement rod are the rod’s length, diameter, UL rating, material, appearance, and how it attaches to the fan assembly.

Connection Points/Installation

All downrods aren’t installed into the fan the same way so, how the rod is connected to the motor housing should influence the kind of rod you purchase.  

Downrods are either threaded or non-threaded and this influences how the rod attaches to the fan. The downrod hole in ceiling fans is designed to fit either a threaded or a non-threaded rod.

Additionally, threaded and non-threaded rods aren’t connected to the fan the same way. Threaded downrods are connected to the fan assembly with screws while non-threaded rods are secured with cotter pins. 

While purchasing threaded rods, you should also pay attention to the type of threading because downrods come in single-threaded and double-threaded designs

To ensure that the downrod is the right fit, you need to purchase one with the exact threading pattern as your current rod (if you are looking for a replacement because yours broke or you want a longer rod).  

If you do not have a downrod that you can use as a reference while making your purchase, ensure that you go with one that is designed specifically for your fan’s model. 

Bear in mind that downrods do not only create distance between the fan and the ceiling, but they also provide stability and support for the fan. 

To do this, they need to become one with fan assembly, and if they aren’t properly secured, the fan would be at risk of wobbling, making annoying noises, or worse, detaching from the rod and falling down. 


Another factor you need to take into consideration is the diameter of the downrod you are purchasing. 

The diameter of the rod determines whether it fits snugly to the fan or not. If you get a downrod with a larger diameter, it might not fit into the fan at all, and if you get one with a smaller diameter, the rod will fit loosely to the fan, creating a safety hazard. 

Hunter 26019 12-Inch Downrod, Brushed Nickel

To avoid the hassle of purchasing the wrong rod and then going back to buy one with the right diameter, you need to pay close attention to the diameter of the downrod you are purchasing. 

If you do not have the fan’s manual, you can search the manufacturer’s website or you can call them for guidance on the right rod diameter for your fan.  

The two major downrod diameter sizes available are 1/2″ and 3/4“. However, a few brands have downrods with a diameter of 1”. 

Downrods diameters are usually the same for fans from the same brand. For example, the downrod diameter of Emerson fans is 1/2″ while Minka Aire fans have a downrod diameter of 3/4″. Fanation fans are an example of a brand that has downrods with a 1″ diameter. 

However, there might be cases where fans from the same brand have different downrod diameters. 

So, to be entirely safe, it’s always best to buy a model-specific downrod, this way you would definitely get one with the same diameter as your fan. 


Ceiling fans are given a UL or ETL rating based on the type and quality of materials used in making the fan. This rating determines where the fan should be installed. 

Ceiling fans are divided into three categories: 

  • Dry-rated: Dry-rated fans are designed for installation in completely dry locations like bedrooms and sitting rooms.
  • Damp-rated: A damp rating is given to ceiling fans that can withstand small amounts of moisture exposure. They can be installed in outdoor locations that aren’t completely exposed to moisture, like covered patios and moisture-prone indoor areas like laundry rooms. They can be used in dry-rated locations.
  • Wet-rated: Wet-rated fans are designed to be both moisture and weather-resistant. So, they can be installed in outdoor locations that are exposed to moisture and the elements. Wet-rated fans can also be installed in damp and dry-rated locations.

Ceiling fan downrods are designed in line with the rating of the fan. 

Different ceiling fan ratings: dry-rated, damp-rated and wet-rated

You can use the current location as a guide to the rating of the fan and if you intend to move the fan to another location, check the fan’s packaging for its UL rating or search the manufacturer’s website for information on the fan’s UL rating.  

If you install a downrod designed for a dry-rated location in a moisture-prone location, it will rust and degrade over time and will eventually be unable to support the weight of the fan.

In addition, the downrod acts as a wiring channel, so if water were able to get inside, it could be very dangerous.


Downrods come in lengths ranging from 3″ to 72″ and the rod length you use for your fan would influence the effectiveness of the fan and the safety of people around the fan.

Although you are expected to use a downrod from your ceiling fan brand, the length of rod you use for your fan isn’t determined by the fan’s manufacturer.

Ceiling fan manufacturers offer various rod lengths for each ceiling fan model, so you should be able to get one that suits your space. 

To prevent safety hazards, ceiling fan blades are to hang at least 8′ above the ground. This means that you have to take the height of your ceiling into account while purchasing your downrod. 

As a general rule, the higher the ceiling, the longer the fan’s downrod should be.  

For optimal airflow, fan blades should hang at least 10″ from the ceiling. So, you should also keep that in mind while purchasing a downrod. 

Optimal airflow distance of ceiling fan blades from the ceiling

Here is a table showing the recommended downrod length for different ceiling heights. 

Ceiling Height (feet)Downrod Length (inches)


The appearance of the downrod would not affect its functionality. However, for aesthetics and uniformity purposes, it’s best to purchase a downrod with the same material and finish as your ceiling fan motor. 

Modern ceiling fans perform the added function of adding beauty and character to a space. For the fan to achieve the desired result, all its elements must complement one another. 

Manufacturers produce different colors and finishes for a single ceiling fan model. So, it’s the downrod might meet all the requirements discussed in previous sections of this article and still not be the right fit for you because it clashes with other parts of the fan. 

Check that the material and the color/finish of the rod match that of the motor and blend with other fan components. 

Some manufacturers might not have downrod replacements in every finish. So, if you do not find a rod that matches the color of your fan choose one with a similar finish.  

What About Extension Rods?

Standard ceiling fan downrods have lengths ranging from 3″ to 10″, thus new ceiling fans typically include 1 to 3 downrods within this range. 

A standard rod might not be ideal for the height of your ceiling, and if your ceiling is higher than 10′, it is recommended that you use an extension rod. 

Extension rods come in lengths ranging from 12″ to 72″ and are designed to be more versatile than downrods. Maybe not truly universal, but certainly able to fit more than one type of ceiling fan. So, depending on your ceiling size you can find the perfect extension rod for your fan. 

If you have a high ceiling, it’s essential that you use a longer rod because they bring the fan closer to the room and this improves air circulation. 

High ceiling living room with two five-bladed ceiling fan with long extension rods

Longer downrods cost more so you should take this into account while making your purchase. 

If you are unable to find your desired rod size, you can create an extended rod by combing two rods with a downrod coupler. 

You need to keep all of this in mind if you are changing your flush mount fan into a downrod fan and you are looking for the best downrod for the job.


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