Newbie ques: 'Future use' sort of situation?

la_koalaApril 25, 2011

Hi all,

I don't know how to look up what I want to ask about because I know that I'm completely ignorant of what the right term for this sort of thing is. I'm hoping you all on GW will take pity on me, tell me if I'm crazy, and straighten me out so I don't sound like an idiot (please!) to others.

Actually, I think I'll sound like an idiot when I ask this, but I don't know how else to ask it. Is there something in the electrical wiring world that's similar to how one puts plumbing pipes in walls for "future use"? If so, what is it?

We're planning our kitchen remodel -- and the walls and ceilings will be open. With the walls and ceilings open, we'd like to put in the wiring that would support having a ceiling fan down the road, if it turns out we'll miss having one. But I don't want to put the ceiling fan in now, because I like the kitchen design without one.

So, what I was imagining was having some sort of "box" in the ceiling in a known location, that down the road, either we or the next owner could put one in easily by punching a hole in the ceiling at that time and hooking up to that existing box.

Is there a standard thing like that? If so, what's it called? Does it require having a plate or something visible in the ceiling 'in front' of it?

If not, is it because it's a wacky thing that no one ever plans on having?

Note: an actual licensed electrician will do all this work. I just want to be able to sound reasonably intelligent and not have him laugh at me too much when I say it's something I'm thinking I'd like to have.

Thanks in advance!


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Best way would be to install a fan rated box roughed in to the switches. You would have to put a round ceiling plate over it. No way to bury the box, even with future intentions. Another way that many inspectors and your electrician will object to is to leave a "whip" of wire in the ceiling, you would then cut in a remodel fan box later. The other end of the wire would be at the switch box capped off and labeled (future fan). This will not be favored as potentially someone could still hook it up and a live wire would be present above the ceiling. A way to prevent that would be to run the feed down to an unfinished basement, coil it up and label "future kitchen ceiling fan" If it is ever needed, the coiled up feed would be fished up to new switches and connected to power.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:14PM
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Arlington makes a plate for covering such boxes that looks a bit better than most. No screws visible.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 7:43AM
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Yes, you can definitely have some "future use" built into a room. The key is that it cannot be hidden. Just install the ceiling fan hanger/box and switch as if you were going to install the fan. They sell plain plates that go over the box. The downside is that you have a plate on the ceiling in the middle of the room.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 10:24AM
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Is there accessible attic space above where you might like a fan?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 2:01PM
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Would you be able to leave it hidden if you just installed conduit from the panel to a fan box, but didn't pull the wire? If you decide you want one you just cut out the drywall at the box and the electrician pushes a fish tape from the panel to the box and pulls solid core wire.

I know conduit isn't used on residential interiors very often, but this may be a good use.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 5:35PM
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Either rough it in as others have stated or don't. Theres no in between. You can't just leave "loose ends" all over on the off chance someone might want them later. If you want to leave a circuit in a j-box in an accessable attic for future use, that's a whole different thing.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 6:18PM
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Thanks everyone for such thoughtful responses! And I really appreciate that no one slapped a forehead and said "you idiot, whatever are you thinking?!?" :-)

The floor above has a bedroom with a finished floor, so it isn't accessible. It is not like an attic/unfinished floor space above.

I will check into the decorative plate idea. While I think I won't mind that, I'm going to have to get the spouse's ok (in this remodel planning, he's been a bit pickier than me over details like this.) bus_driver, thanks for the Arlington brand name.

Now it's true that the basement is unfinished, and we have no plans to finish it. Would tech0010's idea be allowed under code? To put the box and conduit in, finish over the ceiling, but with no wires?

And then at whatever future time, cut out the ceiling hole and an electrician at that time can fish the wire through the conduit then?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 9:46PM
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I've seen homes come this way, with a plate on the ceiling in the bedroom for an eventual fan. No big deal. Usually the associated wall switch is a plate or a dead switch. The wires in the ceiling box are capped.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 1:35AM
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Had water damage over a bay window. While I have the drywall off we ran cable for ceiling fan and installed the fan rated box near center of ceiling. I will cap the box until we install the fan.
Guess thats the only positive from the leak.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 8:20AM
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"Would tech0010's idea be allowed under code? To put the box and conduit in, finish over the ceiling, but with no wires? "

The electrical codes only address actual electrical connections. As far as that is concerned, you can bury all the empty pipes in a wall and ceiling that you want to.

The inspector is a whole different story though. If they see conduit there at rough-in, they will assume you are putting wire in it at some point and will want to inspect to make sure it is done properly. You may or may not be able to convince them it is for future use, but I wouldn't bother. It is just as easy to run the actual lines and then just use a plate.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 8:29AM
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