Using “dimmer switch” on ceiling fans

Reply

  #1  
Old 01-26-21, 08:26 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
Using “dimmer switch” on ceiling fans

Hello:

I have 4 wired together ceiling fans 18’ high in my great room and they are all set on high speed. Now, that’s great when it’s hot here in AZ, but I would like to slow them down and use them while I run the heat because the registers are up there and you can feel the heat circulating when they run, they just run too fast.

While I know you don’t use a dimmer switch, is there anyway I can replace the wall switch with something else? I’ve tried the pull the chain idea, but at 18 feet high, and it’s very small, I can’t acquire them. What other options do I have?

Steve
 
  #2  
Old 01-26-21, 08:53 AM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 1,097
Received 79 Votes on 67 Posts
Fan control switches and smart switches are available that will allow you to set a fan at various speeds. You might have a problem finding one that can handle four fans at the same time. Make sure you check the capacity rating of the control. Your fan manual should have specifications showing the current or wattage of each fan. If you do not have the manual or manufacturer/model information you may have to look for a nameplate or label on the fan.
 
  #3  
Old 01-26-21, 09:50 AM
P
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 24,674
Received 782 Votes on 719 Posts
Boy, those fans are mounted really close to the ceiling. Consider adding downrods to improve their efficiency.
 
  #4  
Old 01-26-21, 10:42 AM
J
Member
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: United States
Posts: 39
Received 4 Votes on 4 Posts
I believe your fans would normally switch from low to high speed with a pull chain. There's probably a separate pull chain for changing direction. Your best option is to get pull chain extensions.
When you pull the chain for speed change, a second capacitor is energized and it powers a second winding in the fan motor.
If you install a dimmer for the fans and set it at half power, your fans will likely spin at half speed. The fan motors may make a humming sound though. There is also possibility that the motor will run hot.
The fan manufacturer can give better info.
 
  #5  
Old 01-26-21, 12:26 PM
C
Member
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 121
Received 6 Votes on 5 Posts
You may be able to use something like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GKGB6L5...ing=UTF8&psc=1 . I added it to a new fan which did not come with a remote.
 
  #6  
Old 01-26-21, 01:14 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
There are a few decent fan speed controllers.
Dayton and FanTech are two. The links below are for the 6A and 10A Dayton models.
I would think the 6A should be large enough.
Will they work for sure.... no way of knowing until you try one.

Dayton 48C172 fan speed controller
Dayton 48C173 fan speed controller
 
  #7  
Old 01-27-21, 12:30 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
I am definitely concerned about a hum or heating issue. While I’m no electrical expert, it makes sense that the speeds are handled by progressively more winding in the stator, with the lowest speed using the fewest. While the highest speed, where it currently set, uses the maximum windings. Inducing a lower voltage should work; that’s how all of the older “speed” switches worked. That said, to complicate the issue, the 4 fans are wired with a three switch system. If I add a speed controller, would I need to do it at both locations?
 
  #8  
Old 01-27-21, 12:57 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
What a three switch system ?
Is that three locations that control all the fans ?

You more than likely have two 3way switches and one 4way switch.
Three way switches will have three wires on them and the four way switch will have four wires on it.
A speed controller would have to go in its own box next to one of the three way switches.

I would try the controller first before installing a box for it or making it permanent.
 
  #9  
Old 01-27-21, 05:51 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
PjMax, I’m just using the terminology I found in an electrical textbook:
 

Last edited by PJmax; 01-27-21 at 07:03 PM. Reason: labeled diagram
  #10  
Old 01-27-21, 07:02 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
No problem.... it's a three way switch system. I labeled your diagram. The two yellow dots represent where the speed control would have to be connected. It would need to be in either location..... not both. The style of fan speed controls I linked to don't operate as a three way switch.
 
  #11  
Old 01-27-21, 09:24 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
Well, rats. That’s what I was worried about. Both of the boxes that hold the current switches are in 4 gang boxes and of course my luck, they are mounted, both, between studs in short length walls. I was hoping I could replace one or both with some 3 way switch, fan controller combo, but I couldn’t find one. It was why I ask the community.
 
  #12  
Old 01-27-21, 09:45 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
Even if they did make that type of device..... it wouldn't be large enough to run four fans.
Too much heat generated.
 
  #13  
Old 01-28-21, 07:49 AM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 1,097
Received 79 Votes on 67 Posts
they are mounted, both, between studs in short length walls.
You could mount the controller above one of the existing switch boxes.

Whenever I can I mount my fan control switches higher than my light switches to differentiate them.
 
  #14  
Old 01-28-21, 10:16 AM
C
Member
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 121
Received 6 Votes on 5 Posts
I would think you could install a few of the controller I linked and then probably link them in the smart things app as a room or scene to link the settings or control them individually. I have done that with some lights.
 
  #15  
Old 01-28-21, 10:39 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
Did you notice that the fans are installed 18' off the floor.
It would be pretty involved to put remotes in them now.
 
  #16  
Old 01-28-21, 06:03 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
My other option is to eliminate the “three-way setup” and use one of the switches and convert that to the speed control. So, based on the diagram, I’ve got to determine which one has the “source” power to it. Now, one of the switches is near the front door and one near the rear door to the backyard. Would it make sense that source gang is likely by the front door? Since both are 4 gang boxes, so many wires to fish through.

Also, if I’m lucky, and the box by the front door has the source power, what do I do with the other box beside remove the switch, cap all the wires and put a 3 for 4 gang box cover over it (covering the last gang position)?
 
  #17  
Old 01-28-21, 06:36 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
Leave the unused switch right where it is. You can put the speed control in either place.
If you tell us what is on both switches we can fine tune this.

If your wiring is exactly like this diagram......

Connect black traveler together with common. Leave red where it is on switch 1.
At switch 2.... remove red and cap it off. Connect speed control to two remaining black wires.

This can be reversed to put the speed control at switch 1 location.
 
  #18  
Old 01-29-21, 10:20 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
Thanks. I’ll be back in AZ next week, so I’ll remove the covers and take pics of switch 1 and 2 and wait for your assessment before I install the speed control. I want to order the controller; would it be “safer” to get the 10a over the 6a?
 
  #19  
Old 01-29-21, 11:19 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
I'm pretty sure the 10A model is a two gang control. It wouldn't fit in place of one switch.
 
  #20  
Old 01-29-21, 08:07 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
What do you think of

Legrand radiant 3-Speed 15-Amp White/Light Almond/Ivory Rocker Fan Control, Model #RHDH163PTCCCV6?


if you read the installation instructions, it has a single or three way wiring scheme. Has three speeds and is advertised as no hum. Thoughts?
 
  #21  
Old 01-29-21, 08:59 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,373
Received 1,397 Votes on 1,294 Posts
It's a misprint...... the controls are 1.5A and 1.6A. Look at the install guide.
It's printed on the yoke of the device too.
Install guide
 
  #22  
Old 01-30-21, 04:04 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 62
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
Yep, rats. I’ve found other “electronic” speed controllers, all claiming to eliminate any hum, but most of the low ratings cite a short life with two fans. 4 would kill one quicker. So, I’m left with the Dayton speed controller. Thanks for all the help.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: