Correct Electrical Wire Size for Ceiling Fans and Lights

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Selecting the Correct Wire Size for Ceiling Fans and Lights: Selecting the Correct Wire Size for Ceiling Fans and Lights.

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Determining the Wire Size for a Circuit

Electrical Question: What wire size should I use for wiring my ceiling fans?

  • Can I utilize 10/3 Romex type cable for the installation of a ceiling fan with a light.
  • I was originally going to utilize 12/3 Romex cable but I have a lot of 10/3 left.

This electrical question came from: Mike, from Flemington, New Jersey.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your home electrical question Mike.

Electrical Circuit Wire Size

Selecting the Correct Wire Size for Ceiling Fans and Lights

  • When installing electrical wiring for new construction the wire size for is determined by the type of circuit and the load that will be connected to the circuit.
  • Many circuits are never loaded to the full potential or rating of the circuit and that is good, however there are typical wire sizes for 120 volt lighting and receptacle circuits which are generally #14 and #12.
  • The #14 gauge wire or 14/2 and 14/3 Type-NM  is most commonly used for home lighting circuits because most switches for homes are rated for 15 amps therefore using a larger size would not be compatible with these devices and it would not be as easy to make the connections when using a larger wire size.
  • When extending or adding electrical wiring to existing electrical circuits the new wire should always be the gauge and rating as the existing circuit wiring.

NOTE: As mentioned in this question, Romex is a brand name which is owned by the Southwire company, however Type-NM cable is manufactured by other wire and cable companies as well.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Correct Electrical Wire Size for Ceiling Fans and Lights”
  1. gary says:

    The last statement about extending the same size wire when adding to it. Here’s my situation on a remodel, there is a 12 gauge going to the large florescent kitchen light. I was going to remove that fixture and run 14/2 into 5-6 can lights, and tie them into the existing junction box. The new lights are LED and do not require a box at the connection, it says they are self sufficient with wire in and wire out going to the next fixture.

    Thoughts and Comments welcome and thanks.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Gary,
      In order to be code compliant for the project you should maintain the 12 gauge wire.

      Other options would be:

      Identify and tag that circuit at the panel and replace the 20amp circuit breaker with a 15 amp, then you may extend the circuit with 14 gauge wire. You should take an amp check to see how loaded that circuit is if it will be converted to 15amp.

      Install a new 15amp circuit to the kitchen and terminate the #12 cable into an accessible junction box.

      I hope this helps,

  2. Brian Williams says:

    The ceiling fans in my house produce a humming sound which is more intense at higher speeds. The fans are balanced and not on any dimmer switches. The ceiling mounts are specific to ceiling fans as installed by the builder in 2001. I just installed a new fan (not cheap) and Ive gone through 2 brand new fans and the humming sound is irritating. Is there something electrical in the house wiring that is causing the hum or is there any suggestions as to how to eliminate it?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Brain,
      The humming of the ceiling fan and the fact that you are having to replace ceiling fans would be a great reason to have the voltage to the ceiling fan checked to make sure it is correct. I would also make certain that the ceiling fan is not on a dimmer switch of any kind, which would include a 3way dimmer switch. If there are separate switches for the light and fan motor then the wiring should be checked to make sure the connections are correct as well.
      Thanks for sharing your ceiling fan question with us,

      • Brian says:

        Thanks. I checked the voltage and it varies from 119-123. I do have separate wall controls for fan & light. No dimmer switches or 3 way switches on same circuit. These switches were installed by the builder just over 13yrs ago. Is there anything I should check the switches for to make sure everything is correct?

        • Dave Rongey says:

          Hi Brian,
          The voltage readings that you have stated of 119-123 are fine. When checking the voltage, make sure that a separate measurement is taken with the hot and the neutral, and then another measurement with the hot and the ground wire. Typically these measurements should produce the same results. It would be good to connect the ceiling fan to a separate power source to see if it is working differently. This could be dome using an extension cord, however an adapted would be required for the connections to the ceiling fan, and the fan blades should be removed to keep the cord clear.
          I hope this helps to troubleshoot this ceiling fan problem.


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