How To Make a PC Fan Work on House Power

Written by gareth downes-powell
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Fans used to cool PCs have evolved quickly over time and become extremely useful components both inside and outside of a PC. Originally large and noisy, modern PC fans are now nearly silent, small and still able to push a good volume of air for cooling. Although designed for cooling the components in a computer, PC fans can be used in other projects where a fan or cooling system is required.

PC fans work using 12 volts. To use the fans with power from a mains socket, you will need a power adaptor to convert 110 volts AC to 12 volts DC.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 12 volt power adaptor
  • 2 terminal connector block
  • Wire cutters
  • Screwdriver
  • Electrical insulating tape

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  1. 1

    Choose the fan that you will be using. This can be salvaged from an old computer or purchased new from a computer store. If noise is an important factor, new fans will usually be quieter. Make a note of the power requirements of the fan, which are usually written on a label on the centre of the fan.

  2. 2

    Purchase a 110 volt AC to 12 volt DC adaptor from a computer or electronics store. Make sure the power supplied by the adaptor exceeds the amount of power required by the fan.

  3. 3

    Cut the connector off the fan and strip a small length of insulation from the ends of each wire. Push each wire into the terminals on the connector block and tighten the screws to clamp the wires in place.

  4. 4

    Cut the 12 volt power connector from the power supply and strip the insulation from the end of each wire. Push the wires into the terminals on the other end of the connector. The positive wire from the adaptor (usually black with a white stripe) connects to the red wire from the fan. The negative wire from the adaptor (usually black) connects to the black wire from the fan.

  5. 5

    Wrap some electrical insulating tape around the terminal block, making sure all the connections are safely covered. You can now plug in the power adaptor to power the fan.

Tips and warnings

  • If you want the fan to run slower, you can power it using a lower voltage, such as 9 volts. A variable voltage power adaptor will allow you to find the best voltage to suit your needs.
  • Do not open the power adaptor as mains voltages are present.

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