How to Avoid Burning Up a Ceiling Fan with a Dimmer Switch
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.
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
- Most ceiling fan remote controls have the capability to control the speed of the motor and dim the light fixture.
- A wall mounted ceiling fan motor speed controller may be installed to control the fan motor when a separate wire is provided for the fan motor only.
- A wall mounted dimmer switch may be installed to control the ceiling fan lighting if the lights are compatible with the dimmer switch and there is a separate wire provided for the light fixture only.
- When using a remote control, fan speed control or a dimmer switch the pull chain switches on the ceiling fan should be in the full on position, otherwise the position of the pull chain switch will override these other control functions.
Fan speed controls and dimmer switches are not the same and should not be used interchangeably otherwise damage may occur to the ceiling fan.
How to Install Ceiling Fans and Wiring
Step-by-step pictures with Easy to follow wiring diagrams and installation guide for Light and Fan switch variations. 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.
Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1
Fully Explained Light Switch Wiring Diagrams. Detailed Electrical Wiring Diagrams and Pictures assist your Home Electrical Projects.
Dimmer Switch Wiring Diagram
Fully explained 3 way dimmer switch wiring diagram will take the mystery out of wiring a 3-way dimmer switch.
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wiring!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
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