Replaced fan/light switch, fan now hums...


Old 12-16-12, 03:10 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
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Replaced fan/light switch, fan now hums...

I have a Hunter ceiling fan with lights in my bedroom, which originally came with a wall switch that had three positions for the lights (off, half brightness, full) and four for the fan (off, slow, medium, and fast). Recently when running the lights at half power the switch would buzz and emit a foul odor, which I assumed meant the dimmer was dead - running it at full power worked fine with no issues. It had four wires (green, red, black, and yellow) and I was able to find a replacement on Amazon which also had four wires, but had dimmers for both the fan and light control rather than fixed-position dials. I swapped it out and while the lights work perfectly, the fan now hums when it's on at any level. Having found a few forum posts about humming fans it's clear that the fan isn't getting enough power and/or shouldn't be on a dimmer at all. This surprised me, as why would anyone even sell a fan dimmer switch if that's not how they should be used?

In any event, is there potentially a way for me to still use this switch with perhaps some different wiring or a modification somewhere along the line? If not, can anyone point me to a replacement four-wire set of light / fan switches, ideally with a dimmer for the light and two or three active speeds for the fan? Hunter sells a model with dimmers for both, but there were a lot of complaints about the knobs breaking off very easily.
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Old 12-16-12, 03:43 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Welcome to the forums!

Tech note: Motors, including fan motors, should never be controlled by a dimmer. They should be controlled by motor control switches instead. That's what the Hunter switches are doing.

The difference is that a dimmer starts at low power and then increases it. A motor control starts at full power, to overcome the inertia and get the motor turning, and then decreases it. When you control a fan with its pull chain, the sequence is off-high-medium-low-off.

Quick question: Do you have the fan set on high with its pull chain?

Quick question 2: What switch do you have now (make and model)?

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