Are Ceiling Fan Downrods Universal and Interchangeable?

You may not have taken much notice before, but the majority of ceiling fans use a downrod. The exception to the rule is a flush mount fan that is used for low ceilings. The downrod is the metal rod or pipe that connects the fan to the ceiling. This dictates how low the ceiling fan hangs from the ceiling.

When purchasing a ceiling fan, it will come with a downrod, but what if this isn’t the correct length to suit your room? Or perhaps you have an existing ceiling fan and you need to replace the downrod. Are ceiling fan downrods universal so you can you just choose whichever you fancy?

No, ceiling fan downrods are not universal or interchangeable. Generally, every brand will have their own downrods to fit their fans. They may be different in size, UL rating, color, design, thickness and fitment.

Unfortunately it’s not as simple as picking a downrod you like the look of from your local hardware store, you must ensure it will fit your fan correctly.

Ceiling fan with long downrod

Why Might You Want To Change Your Downrod?

There are a few reasons why you may want to change your ceiling fan downrod. The most common being the downrod supplied with your fan isn’t suitable for the height of your ceiling.

In order for your ceiling fan to work optimally and safely, you must install them at the correct height.

What size do you need?

Ceiling HeightDownrod Length
9 ft6 inch
10 ft12 inch
11 ft18 inch
12 ft24 inch
13 ft36 inch
14 ft48 inch
15 ft60 inch

We’ve got a whole article dedicated to what size ceiling fan downrod you need.

Another reason you may want to change your downrod is if your existing one has become damaged or worn. In this instance, you’re unlikely to want to change the length but you will still need to ensure the replacement fits correctly. We advise to try to get an identical replacement from the same brand.

Occasionally when renovating your home, you may want to move your ceiling fan into a new room, or simply give it a lick of paint and a bit of a makeover. If this is the case your existing downrod may not suit so you’ll want to switch it up with a fancy new color or design. However, remember that the fitment will still be the same.

Why Aren’t Downrods Universal?

There are no industry standard sizes for downrods, so every brand and manufacturer can create their own depending on their needs, designs and specifications.

Let’s take a look at what can differ between downrods:

Diameter or Thickness

The diameter or thickness of a downrod can vary between ceiling fan brands. Some are 1/2″ while others are 3/4″.

Getting the incorrect diameter can mean that the fan will wobble and shake when in use which is a major safety hazard if it were to fall, or it could simply not fit at all.

UL Rating

Just like the ceiling fans themselves, downrods come in different UL ratings and it’s important you chose the correct one for your application.

Wet Rated: For use in areas that are open to the elements such as a pergola.
Damp Rated: For use in areas that may experience some very light moisture, such as a covered porch or gazebo.
Dry Rated: For use in dry, indoor areas only.


The way a downrod is fitted to the ceiling fan is not standard either. There are two types of fitting; threaded and non-threaded.

Non-threaded downrods usually attach with the use of a cotter pin, therefore these cannot be used on ceiling fans that require a threaded downrod and vice-versa.

If you have a threaded downrod, don’t automatically think that you can replace it with any other threaded downrod either. They can come with different thread patterns and be single or double threaded.

Color and Design

Color and design are less crucial than the other 3, as it is more personal preference.

Ceiling fans come in many colors and different materials, so if you want your new downrod to match the ceiling fan and housing, you need to choose carefully. Colors may also differ from one manufacturer to another. Brushed copper may look completely different depending on brand.

Are Hunter Downrods Universal?

No, not all Hunter downrods will fit every Hunter ceiling fan due to the fitment. Some need single threaded downrods and some need double.

Be sure to check what you require before purchasing a Hunter downrod.

ceiling fan and recessed lights

Are Ceiling Fan Downrods Interchangeable?

You may find a downrod that is interchangeable for your ceiling fan, but that will be down to luck as they are not made to be interchangeable with one another. Even within the same brand, you cannot guarantee the downrod will be equal as they are manufactured based on need and application.

It’s not recommended that you try to find a replacement that isn’t intended for your fan, as you could run into problems that we will go into below. Always use a downrod that is made for the use with your ceiling fan.

What Could Happen If You Use The Wrong Downrod

You may be tempted to take the “that’ll do” approach when it comes to getting a new down rod. You find one in the hardware store on sale and it looks almost perfect. Although you may be saving yourself a few dollars in the short term, it could end up being a costly decision in the future.

The first issue that will become very obvious when you try to fit the new downrod is that it simply won’t fit at all. If you’re able to return the downrod, the only thing this will cost you is time and effort to go and get the correct one.

If the downrod does attach but cannot be fixed entirely you run the risk of the ceiling fan shaking and wobbling erratically during use. This can cause undue wear and tear on the fan, motor and fixings that could cause damage and potentially even a ceiling fan fire. It could even shake itself loose and you’ll have a spinning ceiling fan falling through the air which definitely isn’t ideal.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s simply not worth skimping on a new downrod.

How To Chose The Correct Downrod For Your Ceiling Fan

So, we’ve been through all the reasons why ceiling fan downrods aren’t universal and why you should avoid any incorrect fittings, but how do you make sure you chose the correct one instead?

There’s a few items you need to be sure of to ensure compatibility.

  • UL Rating: Where is the ceiling fan that you need to change the downrod on going to be fitted? If it is going to be somewhere like a pergola that is open to the elements, you need to ensure that the downrod is wet rated. If your ceiling fan is for indoors, you would just go for a dry rated downrod, however there’s not going to be any issues if you did use a wet or damp rated downrod indoors.
  • Length: The most common reason for people changing a downrod is because they require a different length. Be sure to use our table further up in the article to make sure you select the right length for your ceiling height otherwise you could have a safety hazard on your hands with a ceiling fan that hangs too low, or a waste of electricity with a ceiling fan that’s ineffective as it’s too high.
  • Fitment: This is quite a simple one to check, but if you get it wrong, there’s a guarantee your new downrod won’t fit. Simply look at your existing downrod to check is it’s threaded or non-threaded, then if it’s threaded, whether it’s single or double.
  • Diameter: This one won’t be so obvious and may require you to do some research. The first place I would start to look for this measurement is in the manual that came with your ceiling fan. If you don’t have this anymore, have a look on the manufacturers website, or give them a call to find out. This one isn’t worth guessing!

Another simple option if you are going to be purchasing the replacement in a store is to take your old downrod with you so you can compare them side by side to ensure the new one is correct.

Can You Extend Or Shorten A Downrod?

On the odd occasion, particularly when you have an older ceiling fan, there may not be any replacement downrods available. Don’t worry, you won’t necessarily have to replace the whole fan, there are options available to extend or shorten what you already have.

These options aren’t necessarily the best looking or easiest, but if you have no other options they will do the trick.

How To Extend A Downrod On A Ceiling Fan

There is an item called a downrod coupler that simply clamps two downrods together to form one long one.

To do this, you will require an additional downrod and a coupler. The coupler works by holding the two downrods within the coupler and securing with screws that are tightened with an allen key. The only issue is, if the coupler is a different color to your downrods, you will be able to see it, but who generally looks up at ceiling fans anyway?!

Downrod couplers are safe, but it’s always advisable to use a single downrod where possible.

How To Shorten A Downrod On A Ceiling Fan

Shortening a ceiling fan downrod does require some DIY, so can easily go wrong.

You will need to cut the downrod down to the desired length and drill a new hole to attach it again.

However not all downrods will be able to be shortened, for instance those with threads on both ends – unless you happen to have a re-threading tool in your workshop!

Wrapping Up

For something as simple looking as a downrod, there sure are a lot of things you need to consider when purchasing a replacement.

Don’t be tempted to try to save a few bucks on something that looks almost the same, do your research and find a suitable replacement – you’ll thank yourself in the future.