Ceiling Fan Wiring Diagrams and Connections

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Connect the Wiring when Replacing a Ceiling Fan – If the ceiling junction box only has a black and a white wire then it will attach to the black and blue of the ceiling fan and the pull chains will be the switch controls.

Variations for Ceiling Fan Wiring

Electrical Question: I am replacing two outdoor ceiling fans.
The old ones have a white, black, red, and green wire.
The power box has the same thing.
The new fans only have white, black, and green in them.
Both fans are controlled by a rheostat switch.
What do I do with the red wire in the box?

This electrical wiring question came from: Steve, a Homeowner from Pendleton, Indiana
Additional Comments: I hope that you can help me.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Steve.

How to Connect the Wiring when Replacing a Ceiling Fan

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a non-aluminum ladder and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and access to the ceiling fan.
Precaution: Identify the ceiling fan circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.

The typical wiring designations are as follows:

The Ceiling Fan

  • Black – the Fan Motor
  • Blue – the Light
  • White – the shared Neutral.
  • Green – the ground.

The Ceiling Electrical Junction Box

  • Black – for the Fan Motor.
  • Red – for the Light.
  • White – the Neutral.
  • Green – the Ground.

Ceiling Fan Wiring Variations
If the ceiling fan does not have a light fixture then the red in the junction box may be capped off.
If the ceiling junction box only has a black and a white wire then it will attach to the black and blue of the ceiling fan and the pull chains will be the switch controls. If a wall switch is used it cannot be a dimmer switch, and the wall switch will be the master on and off switch.

Note of Caution about Ceiling Fan Electrical Boxes:

  • The ceiling mounted electrical junction box must be approved for the weight of the ceiling fan.
  • Ceiling fans should NEVER be mounted to regular plastic or fiberglass light fixture boxes.
  • UL approved Ceiling Fan Boxes are required by code, this is for your safety and protection.

The Following will assist you with your electrical question:

How to Install Ceiling Fans and Wiring
Step-by-step pictures – Easy wiring diagrams and installation guide – Light and fan switch variations.
Ceiling Fan Wiring
Ceiling Fan Wiring diagram #1
Ceiling Fan Wiring diagram #2
Ceiling Fan Installation #1
Ceiling Fan Installation #2

Light Switch Wiring
Wiring Diagrams
3 Way Switch Diagram

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2 Responses to “Ceiling Fan Wiring Diagrams and Connections”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Steve,
    Take a look at the Ceiling Fan section and you will see various wiring diagrams that should help you understand how ceiling fans are wired to switches.
    Thanks for sharing with us, let us know how it works out.

  2. steve cawley says:

    I have two ceiling fans controlled by 3 separate switches. I can’t get any of the switches to control the fans. The old fans that I removed were controlled by the switches. I didn’t realize the complexity of the wiring when I removed the old fans. Help.


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