Red, Black, White, Blue: What Each Ceiling Fan Wire Means

A ceiling fan with the wiring shown.

Every single ceiling fan wire has a special purpose in order for the fan to function correctly and safely. Although there are four different wires involved, wiring a ceiling fan is not a difficult job. Here is a brief description of every wire which might be helpful when installing a fan. As with any other electrical device, remember to switch off the current from the main box before you start installation or repair.

Wiring Color Codes

Before reading this information, it is important to note that there are different wiring color codes in different countries around the world. The wiring color codes in Europe are not the same as those in North America.

Thus, before trying to install a ceiling fan, make sure to use the correct wiring diagram for your specific fan in your region. Here we will describe the wire colors as according to the wiring color codes for the USA and Canada.

Red Wire

A ceiling fan usually consists of two main parts: the fan and a lighting assembly. The red or striped wire is the hot wire for the lighting fixture of the ceiling fan, so if your ceiling fan does not have a lighting fixture, it will only have the three other wires mentioned in the following sections. Moreover, sometimes this wire can come directly from the main circuit breaker in order to always be on.

Black Wire

The black wire is the main hot wire, which generally comes from the main circuit breaker. This wire is always on, so make sure that there is no current when dealing directly with this one to avoid any injury. Being the main hot wire, the primary function of the black wire is to provide current to the fan’s motor.

White Wire

The white wire of the ceiling fan is the main neutral, for both the light fixture and the fan motor. During installation of the ceiling fan, this white wire should be attached to the other neutral wire of the house wiring.

However, the white wire of the house wiring system could also have a piece of tape attached to it indicating that it is being used for another purpose, so look for any markers before you attach anything.

Blue Wire or Green Wire

Since there are a lot of different color codes, it is unclear what the exact purpose of the blue wire is, but you can use your individual fan's wiring diagram to learn how it functions.

Another important wire is usually a green one, which is used to ground all the systems of the ceiling fan. Depending on your color code, you could have either a blue or green wire, or both, in addition to the other three.

When dealing with a ceiling fan wiring system, it is important to know what you are doing and to work as safely as possible, so even if the current is switched off from the main supply, it is recommended to double check for any current flow by first using a tester.

If you are trying to repair a ceiling fan but you cannot understand its wiring connection, it is strongly recommended to refer to a professional electrician.

Ceiling Fan Wire FAQ

What color wires go together on a ceiling fan?

Electrical wires are color coded in order to make it easier to identify how to connect wires to each other, to the electrical box, and to lights and appliances that need power. Most of the time, you will connect wires of the same color to each other.

This means that white connects to white, blue to blue, and so on. In ceiling fans, white wires should always be connected to each other.

Green wires are connected to the ground wire, which may be bare and will be made of copper. The black wires and blue wires should be connected to each other unless you do not have a blue or black wire, in which case the blue wire and black wire can be connected to each other.

What is the red wire for when installing a ceiling fan?

The red wire in a ceiling fan usually powers the light in the fan. The red wire usually connects the light to an electric switch that is used to turn the fan off and on.

When a red wire is present, this means that the light and the fan can be turned on independently of each other. The light can be on without the fan, and vice versa.

Can I leave the red wire unconnected?

If you don't need your ceiling fan light to work and you don want to connect the red wire, you technically don't have to do this. However, you do have to cap off the wire with a wire nut to ensure safety.

After this, just leave the red wire disconnected. But remember that without it, the ceiling fan light will not work.

What does blue wire on ceiling fan go to?

The blue wire in a ceiling fan usually provides power to the light. This wire is only present when the ceiling fan has a light and it will be present instead of a red wire, which you may find in some models.

Are blue and white wires the same as red and black?

Black and red wires indicate "hot" wires, or wires that actively carry electricity. White wires are neutral, and they soak up excess electricity in order to prevent shorts and sparks and other dangers that occur when too much electricity runs through a circuit.

Blue wires are also hot wires that carry electricity, usually to light fixtures or wall switches. Electrical wires are color coded for a reason and have their own functions.