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How to Wire Ceiling Fans and Switches
©Copyright Dave Rongey - Summary:
Wiring Connections for Ceiling Fans: Connecting the black wire, red wire, blue wire and the white wires.
Guide to Ceiling Fan Wiring Connections
Electrical Question: I am relocating an existing ceiling fan from a lower portion of a vaulted ceiling to a higher point on the ceiling.
- When I removed the old fan I found four wires coming out of the box. I have installed quite few ceiling fans the past couple of years and all of them even with light kits were set up for three wire boxes.
- I then inspected the fan wall switch which is a standard on and off switch, no other switches, and dimmers. The main circuit cable to the switch is a 3-wire, black, white, ground.
- What I found was the “hot” or feed wire attached to the bottom lug of the wall switch(normal so far), the “hot” black wire to the fan was attached to the top lug(again normal) but then I found a red wire also attached to the same top lug of the switch. It was inserted into the push-in terminal while the black wire was attached to the screw lug.
- When the switch was turned on power was sent to both the red and black wires going to the fan. It looks like the red wire was being used to power the lights and the black for the fan. Why just not wire nut them at the ceiling box rather than run two hot wires off the same wall switch? I don’t understand the logic behind this.
- Note that the “old” fan is about 15 years old and there are no factory installed wire connectors for the light. All the wires had to be wire nutted together. With a new fan I don’t think the red wire is required so I should be able to extend the existing 4-wire cable up to the new fan location using a 3-wire cable instead.
- I probably should remove the red wire that is currently attached to the wall switch. Is my thinking correct on this?
This electrical wiring question came from: Steve, from Sunlakes, Arizona.
Additional Comments: Just discovered the site and have signed up for your Electrical How-To Manual.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Steve.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a fiberglass or non-aluminum ladder and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and access to the ceiling fan location.
Precaution: Identify the ceiling fan circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Wiring for Ceiling Fans and Switch Controls
- When installing the wiring for a ceiling fan from a wall switch box where the power originates it is common to install a 3-wire cable with a ground which will provide the following:
- A Black wire for a separate switch for the fan motor which could also be a variable fan speed control.
- A Red wire for a separate switch to control the light switch which could be a dimmer switch depending on the type of lamps.
- The White neutral and the ground wires have typical connections.
- If there will be only one switch that will be used at the wall then as this question states, there are two options:
- To connect the Black and Red wires together at the switch box.
- Or connect the Black and Red wire together at the ceiling fan box.
- My choice is to connect the Red and Black wires together at the wall switch therefore if separate switches would ever be installed then changes with the wiring may be done at the wall switch and not require disassembling the ceiling fan to change the wiring up at the ceiling fan box.
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