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Electrical Wire and Cable

Red Wire for Ceiling Fan Wiring

The old fan was connected to a ground, a neutral, a hot, and a fourth red wire that I presume is an additional hot…

Electrical Question from Dave about Ceiling Fan Wiring
Background: Dave, a Homeowner from Madison Wisconsin
Question: I’m replacing an old ceiling fan. The new fan calls for a ground wire, a neutral wire, and a hot wire. The old fan was connected to a ground, a neutral, a hot, and a fourth red wire that I presume is an additional hot. Neither the old nor the new fan has a light. My question is what do I do with the extra hot wire in the ceiling?


Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Dave. A red wire up in the ceiling fan junction box usually indicates that the wiring has been installed which provides separate switch for the light and a separate switch for the fan motor. If your ceiling fan does not have a light fixture, then simply cap off the red wire and attach the fan motor to the black wire.

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4 Responses to “Red Wire for Ceiling Fan Wiring”
  1. Kate brethauer says:

    Where do I connect up the red wire when I have a light and fan combo? There is only one light switch on wall and we turn the fan on and off manually with a pull chain. We connected the black wire and blue wire from fan unit to the black from ceiling but we capped off red wire and that does not work. what should we do with red wire?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Kate, Great Question.
      When there is only one wall switch as you have described, typically both the ceiling fan black and blue wires connect to the red wire in the ceiling box, and the white wires connect together. With this type of setup, be aware that the wall switch must be in the on position before the pull chain switches will operate the ceiling fan and the light.
      Enjoy your ceiling fan!

      • Ron says:

        I am installing a ceiling fan. Same as original posters question, one wall switch, ceiling has a red , white, black and bare(ground). The red is switched BUT so is the black as I have verified by testing and visually looked at switches connections. Seems weird to me. Should I ignore the red wire and just use white and black and ground? Fans has LED LIGHT KIT AND PULL CHAINS. NO REMOTE, and what do you do with the black wire, cap it off?


        • Dave Rongey says:

          Hi Ron,
          Keep in mind that two wires are needed for switching, one to take the power to the switch, one to take the power back to the ceiling fan once the switch is turned on. To help you understand this in more detail I have a full section on installing and wiring ceiling fans, which includes wiring diagrams. Please find the ceiling fan link or icon of a ceiling fan at the top of the page and this will take you to the ceiling fan section, or just use this link: How to Wire Ceiling Fans
          I’m sure this will be helpful for you,


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