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Electrical Question from Gary about Ceiling Fan Wiring


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How Do I Wire my Ceiling Fan and Light Fixture? The Pull Chain Switch for a Ceiling Fan Light Fixture, and the Fan Motor Capacitor.

Repairing a Ceiling Fan Motor Capacitor

Electrical Question: I have a few questions about How To Wire my Ceiling Fan and Light Fixture.

  1. In my ceiling fan there is a small device labeled VM or VIM,4 mfd, ac250v, +- 10/5% TV, ac438v.
    • Its connected to the whites and a small red wire from above.
    • It seems to be swollen and I’m wondering if I should replace it.
  2. I would like to convert the light in the ceiling fan from standard to a three way light bulb.
    • Can this be done using the wires currently feeding the fan switch?
    • The fan switch has a gray wire connected to small gray wire from above and a gray wire to the reversing switch, a black wire from above, a small purple wire, and a small brown wire from above.
    • My 3 way fan light switch has black, blue, red. If not, is there another way?

Thanks a bunch, Dave!

Additional Comments: I’m a recent subscriber and its my first time using your site but I can already see I’ll be getting a lot of use from it. I think you’ve done a great job and love your proactive ideas you have for it such as the employment searching.

Keep it up.
Thanks.

Received from Gary a Handyman in Glendale, Arizona.
See more about Home Wiring for Arizona

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question.

The Pull Chain Switch for a Ceiling Fan Light Fixture

Application: Ceiling Fan Electrical Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced, Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
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 switched outlet wiring and the proposed location for the ceiling fan.
Precaution: Identify the switched outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring for a ceiling fan should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Electrical Repair for a Ceiling Fan Motor Capacitor and Pull Chain Switch

  1. The device that you are describing is an electronic circuit component of the ceiling fan called a capacitor. If the fan is not working and this component appears to be damaged then the capacitor should be carefully replaced.
  2. I’m hearing two different terms here – lets identify them:
    • A Three Way Light Bulb is an incandescent bulb that is designed to be used in a three way lamp socket, which is typically used for some types of floor lamps and table lamps.
    • The 3way light bulbs have three levels of light that is produced simply by turning on or off two filaments inside the light bulb itself.
    • Many ceiling fans have two or more lights that are controlled by a pull chain switch which turns on one light, the second light, and then all of the lights for full brightness.
      • Do not confuse this type of 3way pull chain switch with 3Way light switches which are two switches that allow one or more lights to be switched on and off from two different locations in the room or area where the ceiling fan is located.

More about Wiring Ceiling Fans

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Take the mystery out of ceiling fan wiring. Ceiling Fans are a great way to lower your energy bill and brighten up one of your favorite rooms.

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4 Responses to “Electrical Question from Gary about Ceiling Fan Wiring”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Mary,
    The wiring configuration you are describing can be done depending on where the power enters the circuit for the ceiling fan.
    Here are the wiring scenarios:
    If the circuit power source is found at the ceiling fan box, then the ceiling fan motor may be wired directly to the circuit power, and the ceiling fan light switch may be wired through the wall switch.
    If the circuit power source is found at the wall switch then separate wires would be needed, one for the ceiling fan motor and one for the ceiling fan light.
    Some homes may already have this provision where there are two separate switch wires already installed between the wall switch and the ceiling fan. In this case the wires would be configured as described above where the ceiling fan motor is wired directly to the power source, or controlled by it’s own wall switch.
    Note: Separate wires used for switching circuit power do not include neutral wires or ground wires which are assumed and are connected separately. Switching circuit power only has to do with configuring the flow of the power leg of the circuit source.
    As described, the big factor of configuring switch wiring is where the power source enters the circuit.
    Please see my section on Wiring Ceiling Fans where you will see more detailed wiring diagrams.
    I hope this helps,
    Dave

  2. Mary says:

    We currently have a wall switch in the bedroom that controls 2 separate lights
    1. the hallway light which is 3-way can be turned on/off at bedroom or other end of hall
    2. bedroom ceiling fan w/light which is in on position at switch and controlled by a
    remote
    I would like to know if it is possible to wire it so that we can turn the light of the ceiling fan on/off at the wall switch, and keep using the remote to operate the fan(?)

    Thanks for any help,
    Mary

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hey Gary, consider using Master and Slave compatible 3-Way switches and their ceiling fan module, this will be a great setup for your application. See their information for full details.

  4. Dave says:

    Hi, I am trying to wire a ceiling fan with lights to two three way switches. I am trying to keep the fan “hot” or powered on all the time, and use the switches only to control the lights. Any ideas would help. My first thought was a remote control, but the switches are there and would prefer to use them.

    Thank you.