Home Wiring Questions about Ceiling Fans

Q. I am installing a ceiling fan into a bedroom that had no previous ceiling fan/light. A switch next to the door controls the wall receptacle. I would like the receptacle to no longer be controlled by the switch, just be "always on," and I would like the wall switch to control only the light on the ceiling fan, not the fan itself. I want to control that by the chain only. I already have 14/3 with ground, run from the spot in the ceiling to the wall switch. The wire I ran is black, white, red, and bare. Can someone give me some help on the wiring?

A. At receptacle
Remove red from receptacle.
Connect two black wires to the gold screw you remove red from.
Cap red wire.

At switch
Remove red wire from switch and cap it. We don't need this wire anymore.
Connect NEW red wire to switch.
Connect new white wire with other whites.
Connect new black wire with other blacks.
Connect ground with other grounds.

At fan
Connect all white together.
Connect all ground and greens together.
Connect black wire to fan hot wire (usually black).
Connect red wire the light hot wire (often blue, sometimes black with white stripe).

Q. The chain to my 3-speed fan switch broke inside the switch. It's a switch with 4 wires: black, red, yellow and blue. I bought a similar replacement. The directions said to note the positions of the old wires and put them in the same positions of the new switch. I did this, and it didn't work the way it is designed to. The fan came on fast but not medium and low. Thinking the positions were not the same on the old and new switches, I tried all 24 different wiring combinations but didn't get that winning combination. Could the new switch be faulty or is it just my wiring?

A. Replacing these things is tricky. I always prefer to call the fan manufacturer with the exact make and model of the fan and get them to send you an exact replacement part.

Q. I would like to have a variable fan speed control and a dimmer for a fan/ light that is in a three way circuit. The 3-way switch is simply an off/ on for both the fan and light. I have a new switch with sliders that can control the fan and light individually. However, there aren't separate wires for the fan and light now. Can this be used someway? Is there an alternate solution without running new wiring?

A. There are two kinds of such wall controls as you describe. One kind (the less expensive one) needs two separate hot wires. The other kind (the more expensive one) only needs one hot wire. You need this second kind. Check out the Hunter 27186 (about $40). In addition to the wall module, it has another module that you install up at the ceiling.

Q. I have a room that has no overhead light and one switched outlet. I want to install a fan/light and use a new fan/light wall switch while removing the outlet from being controlled by the switch. Although I have seen this asked and answered before, my wiring seems to be different. I have installed the new fan/light and have run 14/3 from the fan/light to the switch box.

Here is the rest of the wiring: There are three sets of wires in the switch box not including the new 14/3. There is a black/white bringing the power in, a black/white going somewhere I don't know, and a black/white/red going to the outlet receptacle. The three blacks are connected, and the three whites are connected. The old switch had a black wire that was connected up to the other blacks, making four connected together, and a red wire that was connected to the red wire going to the outlet.

In the outlet receptacle, the black/white/red comes in from the switch and two black/white wires go out. I assume that they go to power other outlets in the room that are always hot. In the outlet box, the three blacks are connected and the three whites are connected. The outlet itself is connected with the red wire from the switch and with a white wire to the other three whites. The new fan/light switch has three wires: black, red and blue. I'm not sure if all these wires and colors have given me this headache or maybe it is just from hitting my head against a roof rafter when installing the fan box. Can anyone help with the wiring?

A. You can leave the receptacle box alone. No need to make any changes there.
At the switch box, you now have four cables:

  • The black/white power feed ("P").
  • The black/red/white cable to your receptacle ("R").
  • The "other" black/white cable ("D").
  • The new black/red/white cable you just installed to your ceiling ("F").

For each cable, I'll used "b" to refer to the black wire, "r" to refer to the red wire, and "w" to refer to the white wire. I won't mention the grounding wires, but I'm sure you know what to do with them.
I'm sure your switch came with some instructions that identified what the black, red and blue wires were for. Because you didn't tell me that, I'm going to guess. If my guess is wrong, you can modify accordingly. I'm guessing that the black wire is the power feed, the red wire is switched power for the fan motor, and the blue wire is switched power for the fanlight.
At the switch box:

  • Connect Pb to Db to Rb to Rr to the black wire from your switch (or whichever switch wire is identified as the power feed). This makes your receptacle always hot without even changing the receptacle wiring. It also makes sure that all downstream loads get power (on cables D and R).
  • Connect all white wires (Pw, Dw, Rw, Fw) together. These are all neutrals. They do not connect to the switch.
  • Connect Fb to the red wire from your switch (or whichever switch wire is identified as the switched hot for the fan motor). At the fan end of this cable, you'll connect this black wire to the fan motor hot wire (which is black on most fan models).
  • Connect Fr to the blue wire from your switch (or whichever switch wire is identified as the switched hot for the fan light). At the fan end of this cable, you'll connect this red wire to the fan light hot wire (which is blue on many fan models, and black with a white stripe on other fan models).

If you're looking to purchase a ceiling fan, check out our Fans Buyer's Guide.

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