Replacing Ceiling Fan - Wiring Help Needed

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Old 01-19-13, 02:24 PM
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Replacing Ceiling Fan - Wiring Help Needed

I am replacing a ceiling fan with light with another ceiling fan with light. Unfortunately, I did not note the wiring before disassembling the old fan.

There is a single toggle switch on the wall to control the light only. At the back of the wall switch, it has 2 black wires connected to the brass terminals. One end of the terminal is hot, the other is not until I turn the switch on. That makes sense. There are several wires ganged up together inside the box, supposedly to and from other devices or power. From what I understand, this is not a "switch loop" since there are more than one single wire.

At the ceiling, there are two incoming wires:
1. One is from power. It has a black, a white and a ground.
2. The other one is from the switch. It also has a black, a white and a ground. The switch black wire is hot only when the switch is turn on. That also makes sense.

I want the wall switch to control the light only, and the fan be controlled by the pull chain even with the light off.

Instructions from the fan says to connect:
1. (Black from power) and (Black from fan) and (Black from switch).
2. (White from switch) and (Blue from fan)
3. (White from power) and (White from fan)
4. All ground wires

When I did that and turned on the light switch, it flipped one of the circuit breakers.

How should I do the wiring instead? Let me know if more info is needed. Thanks,
 
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Old 01-19-13, 03:31 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

Just a few questions first: When you say
At the ceiling, there are two incoming wires:
1. One is from power. It has a black, a white and a ground.
Do you mean that you can only turn the power in the black wire in that on or off at the breaker, and that the other black wire will still have power when the switch is turned on?

What are you using to test for power - a multimeter, a test light, or a non-contact voltage tester?

Instructions from the fan says to connect:
1. (Black from power) and (Black from fan) and (Black from switch).
2. (White from switch) and (Blue from fan)
3. (White from power) and (White from fan)
4. All ground wires

When I did that and turned on the light switch, it flipped one of the circuit breakers.
I daresay.

While waiting for your answers, I will suggest that you connect all the grounds together, connect all the whites together, connect the fan motor lead to the power from the panel black wire and connect the fan light lead to the black from the switch.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 06:38 PM
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Yes Nashkat1. Those 2 wires on the ceiling are definitely on different circuits. Even after I turned off the breaker for the wire with the main power supply, the wire from the wall switch would still be on if my wall switch is ON, but would be off if flipped my wall switch to OFF.

To test for power, I used the little thing that looks like a screw driver but with a light inside the handle. It lights up when in contact with a hot wire. Is that a "test light"?

The way you suggested the wiring makes a lot of sense.
The main power line supplies electricity to the fan independent of the switch. The switch's black wire, when the light switch is ON, supplies the electricity through the light's blue wire. Is that how you see it?

It shouldn't matter if the white wires are on different circuits, should it?
 
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Old 01-19-13, 06:51 PM
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It they are actually two different circuits you cannot connect the two white wires together. That also means you can't connect it the way I described. And yes, it matters that the white wires are on different circuits - a lot.

Tell us what wiring you have at the switch.

Your tester sounds like a non-contact voltage tester. It would be more accurate to use a meter. preferably an analog multimeter.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 08:12 PM
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I took a picture of the inside of the switch housing this afternoon. But I am not sure if I can tell you what they are.

I wonder how they could get it to work originally? It is basically an "in-kind" replacement.

 
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Old 01-19-13, 09:47 PM
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I took a picture of the inside of the switch housing this afternoon. But I am not sure if I can tell you what they are.
That's OK. Your picture clearly shows a standard 2-wire feed-in, feed-out single-pole switch setup.

I wonder how they could get it to work originally? It is basically an "in-kind" replacement.
My best guess is that they wired it in a non-compliant manner, similar to my earlier suggestion - before you showed that we were looking at two different circuits.

I have a way in mind to let you get the outcome I think you're looking for - fan motor always hot, controllable only by its pull chain; light controllable by the wall switch and by its pull chain. Is that correct? If you want a different outcome, that's also doable. All in compliance with code.

Just one thing before we go there. If you don't have a meter to verify the finding of two independent circuits, do this: At the panel, turn the breaker for the separate wire in the ceiling ON, and turn the breaker for the switch OFF, then use your pen tester to verify that that's what happened.

Post back with that result and your preferred outcome, and we can advise you from there.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 05:39 AM
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Just my opinion this is too important to use a non contact tester. You need a tester that can be trusted to give true results. Get a $10 analog (not digital) multimeter.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 09:10 AM
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Thanks Nashkat1 and Ray2047.

1. Yes, that was indeed my preferred control option.

2. The 2 wires are indeed on separate circuits, verified as you suggested.

3. In additon to the pen tester, I have tested the voltage on a digital multimeter. The voltage from the power is about 122~123 volts, and the voltage at the switch is about 99~100 volts. I am not sure why analog multimeter is preferred. I can see the numbers on the digital changing before it settles down on the final value.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 09:37 AM
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Analog multimeters are preferable because they are generally better at filtering out induced voltage, in our experience.

Here's what you can do:
  • Turn both breakers off;
  • At the switch, undo the neutrals splice, remove the black from the panel from the switch, and cap off the hot and the neutral from the panel;
  • Mark the white wire from the light as a hot wire with black or red electrical tape or permanent marker;
  • Terminate the marked white wire to the switch and close the switch box;
  • In the ceiling, mark the white wire to the switch as a hot wire with black or red electrical tape or permanent marker;
  • Splice the marked white wire to the black from the panel;
  • Splice all grounds together, including those from your fan/light combo;
  • Splice the white from the fan/light combo to the white from the panel;
  • Add the feed for the fan motor to the black/white splice;
  • Splice the feed for the fan light to the black from the switch;
  • Turn the power back on.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 04:52 PM
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Thanks a bunch Nashkat1.

Getting rid of the original power supply to the switch and making it a switch loop did the trick. Works like a chime!

 
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Old 01-20-13, 08:33 PM
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Glad that resolved it for you, and thanks for the feedback.

 
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Old 01-21-13, 10:04 AM
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Right on. Thanks again.

For my education, if I were to install a separate switch to control this same fan, how do I go about doing and wiring it? Something about needing a cable with an additional red wire??
 
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Old 01-22-13, 04:56 PM
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You can use the existing wiring to control the fan, the light or both. You can replace the existing cable with a 3-conductor cable (add a red wire) to have two switches, one for the fan and one for the light. You can install a fan/light remote to control the fan and the light separately without changing the wiring.

I prefer to leave the fan motor power unswitched or to install a remote, because those two methods eliminate the possibility of supplying power to the fan motor when its built-in switch is not set to HIGH - not a great condition for the long-term health of the fan.
 
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