Help with wiring a new fan control switch

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Old 10-13-12, 06:36 PM
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Help with wiring a new fan control switch

Hey, guys. I am having difficulty figuring out how to wire a new switch to control the speed of my fan. Right now I have a ceiling fan with a light that is controlled by two switches on my wall. The left switch is for the light and it is just a simple on/off switch. The switch on the right controls the fan and is the same on/off setup. Today I bought a rotary switch for the fan so that we can get rid of the annoying cord that hangs from the fan and controls the speed.

When I removed the switch for the fan, I did not see what I expected to see. I expected to see two black wires connected to the two screws on the side of the switch and a ground wire.

First off, there are three black wires connected to this switch. One black wire comes from the main electrical line(I don't know how to refer to this. It goes back behind the wall). It connects to one of the screws on the side of the switch. Another black wire also coming from the main electrical line runs into the switch but isn't attached via that screw. It goes inside the switch somehow. The third black wire runs from the inside of the fan switch and connects to the screw on the other switch(the light switch).

So I have two black wires and a green ground wire on the dimmer switch and I really can't figure out how I am supposed to wire this. It doesn't look like I need to connect the green ground wire to anything because there doesn't appear to be a ground wire connected in the existing set up. Can you all help me figure out how I'm supposed to connect this new dimmer switch?

I've attached some pics to show you what I'm looking at.

Thank you!
 
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Old 10-13-12, 06:46 PM
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:NO NO NO: Someone did a naughty. Look at your switch. See the wire that is pushed into the back of the switch? That wire and the one on the nearest screw terminal are the same....meaning tied together in the switch. Not really correct. Just connect those two blacks together and they are considered as one wire. Those two together and the other one on the switch are the leads you use.
 
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Old 10-13-12, 07:05 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

If you bought a motor control switch and you're just calling it a dimmer switch, here's the plan:

The black wire attached to the screw on your existing switch should be the feed from the panel. The black wire stabbed into the back of the switch next to that connection is a jumper that is feeding the power to the other switch. The third black wire, stabbed into the back of the switch next to where there is a missing screw, should be the wire that feeds the fan.

Splice and wire nut the panel feed, the jumper for the second switch, and one of the black wires on the new switch - it shouldn't matter which. Splice and wire nut the second black wire on the switch to the wire feeding the fan. Splice and wire nut the green wire on the switch to the bare copper ground wires that should be in the back of your plastic 2-gang box. While you're at it, find a piece of green or bare copper about 8" long. Add that to the ground splice and terminate it to the green screw on the light switch.

Now, that said, you said
Today I bought a rotary switch for the fan so that we can get rid of the annoying cord that hangs from the fan and controls the speed... Can you all help me figure out how I'm supposed to connect this new dimmer switch?
Yes. If, in fact, you actually bought a light dimmer switch, take it back and exchange it for a motor control switch. Don't install it. Fan motors, like all electric motors, need full power at start-up. That is provided by a fan motor control. A dimmer switch, made for controlling lights, starts at low power and adds power as you turn it. It is the opposite, in operation, of a fan motor control. Using a dimmer to control a motor will be hard on the motor (as well as the switch) and is likely to harm the motor.

Post back if you have questions about connecting the motor control switch, and we can help you with that.
 
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Old 10-13-12, 07:28 PM
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Thank you both very much for your responses. Yes, it is a fan control switch and not a dimmer switch.

What happens if I don't ground it? I don't know that I have a piece of copper or green wire hanging around anywhere. I can connect the green wire on the new switch to the copper wire in the panel. But is it a bad thing if I don't run a ground wire from the new switch to the light switch?
 
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Old 10-13-12, 07:37 PM
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You have newer romex there and a plastic box therefore you have a ground connection in the box. With power off.....carefully pull the wire connections out. You should see bare wires twisted together. That's your ground and it's where your green wire gets connected.
 
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Old 10-13-12, 08:46 PM
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Yes, it is a fan control switch and not a dimmer switch.
OK, that's good then.

What happens if I don't ground it? I don't know that I have a piece of copper or green wire hanging around anywhere. I can connect the green wire on the new switch to the copper wire in the panel. But is it a bad thing if I don't run a ground wire from the new switch to the light switch?
It's not a bad thing if you don't mind getting shocked when the power sees you as a better path to ground, or starting a fire when it finds a faster way without going through you.

Bond each switch to the ground wires in the cables, which should be all spliced (twisted) together. There is no need to bond the switches to each other. That would not serve any useful purpose. If you don't have any green wire around you can strip the insulation off any scrap of 12 or 14 AWG wire and use the bare copper as the bonding jumper for the light switch. And if you don't have any wire at all, almost any hardware or big box store should give you a piece of wire long enough to do this at no charge. Or for 25-30 cents. But don't close the box without doing it. Seriously.
 
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Old 10-14-12, 12:16 PM
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Hey, guys. I was able to get the switch wired up correctly this morning with your help. It works great and I'm very pleased with it. Thank you again for the assistance as I learned some new things in getting this done.

Have a great rest of your weekend.
 
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Old 10-14-12, 01:08 PM
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Good job. Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
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