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How to Avoid Burning Up a Ceiling Fan with a Dimmer Switch


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Wire Wall Switches for a Ceiling Fan: Ceiling Fan Motor Speed Controls and Dimmer Switches

Dimmer Switches and Ceiling Fans

Electrical Question: I turned my ceiling fan on, it was fine for a few minutes then the lights made loud popping noises and shut off. There was a burning smell in the air. Now the fan and lights don’t work at all. The fan is new, I installed it 3 months ago. The fan was wired to a dimmer switch which I now know was wrong, and the dimmer made a lot of buzzing noise. I just tried replacing the dimmer with a switch and that made no difference. Is the fan dead? The ceiling fan is the Hunter brand fan which is expensive!

This electrical wiring question came from Todd, in Burlington, Canada.

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

Hi Todd, sorry to hear about your ceiling fan, and yes, wiring a ceiling fan to a dimmer switch most likely burnt up your ceiling fan, and here’s why:
A dimmer switch should only be used for controlling lights that are compatible with the dimmer switch. A dimmer switch should never be wired as the main controlling switch for a ceiling fan or ceiling fan remote control.

How to Wire Wall Switches for a Ceiling Fan

Application: Wiring Ceiling Fan Switches.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools and electrical wiring.
Precaution: Identify the ceiling fan power source or circuit at the panel, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the switch wiring.
Materials: Make sure the switches are fully compatible with the ceiling fan part and the size for the control component.

Ceiling Fan Motor Speed Controls and Dimmer Switches
A fan speed control may be used for a compatible ceiling fan motor. A fan speed control is not the same as a dimmer switch. A dimmer switch should not be used as a motor speed control.

Quick Facts about Ceiling Fan Controls

Summary
Fan speed controls and dimmer switches are not the same and should not be used interchangeably otherwise damage may occur to the ceiling fan.

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