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Wiring a Bathroom Exhaust Fan and Switch

Do I need a neutral wire between switch boxes for the circuit wiring? How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan and Electrical Wiring for Switches.

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Bathroom Exhaust Fan and Switch
Electrical Question: Do I need a neutral wire between switch boxes for the light circuit wiring?

I would like to install an exhaust fan in my bathroom. There is currently only 1 light (above sink) and 1 outlet in the bathroom.
I need to add an exhaust fan and more light so this fan suits the bill. The info I should give you is, the light switch is located outside the bathroom beside the door entering and I will swap it out for a 2 function light switch combination (1 for florescent light in fan and light above sink at the same time, and the other button for only the nightlight in the fan.
I will install another switch directly opposite the light switch inside the bathroom to control the fan. The switch I purchased to do this is the Dew Stop FS-100 (hope it actually works) I am quite sure everything is right and my only concern now is do I need that neutral wire between switch boxes? Pretty sure I do but wondering if it messes up the circuit at all. The other question mark concerning GFCI got answered at the hardware store. I am looking to install this fan as soon as possible, it’s really dark in the bathroom because the only light is on the other side of the wet wall and I have just finished painting the walls and need to get an exhaust fan going.

Thank You very much in advance. Jayme.

This electrical wiring question came from: Jayme, who Homeowner in Canada.

Additional Comments: Great idea and very useful and much appreciated tool for homeowners.

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

Wiring a Bathroom Exhaust Fan and Switches

Application: Bathroom Exhaust Fan and Switch Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – this is Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor or Certified Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, sheet rock tools, a non-conductive ladder and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and the access to the attic and area of the exhaust fan.
Precaution: Identify the circuit that will be used to power the bath exhaust fan, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring should be done with a permit and the work inspected.

How to Wire a Bathroom Exhaust Fan and the Wiring for the Switches

Exhaust Fan Wiring
When installing a bathroom exhaust fan the overhead or vanity lighting circuit wiring may be used as the power source as long as the fan unit to be installed dies not have additional features such as heating elements which require a new dedicated circuit.

Location of the Exhaust Fan
If the bathroom exhaust fan unit will be installed over the bath tub or shower then the GFCI outlet circuit of the bathroom should be used as the power source.

Wiring for Switches
New electrical codes do require a neutral wire in the switch box, therefore extending the neutral wire of the circuit will be essential.

Humidity Control and Occupancy Sensor
The power source for the exhaust fan will require both the hot and neutral wires of the circuit up at the unit and it would be best to have the neutral wire at the switch box as well, especially if the a humidity control switch or occupancy sensor will be installed which requires the neutral wire.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

3 Responses to “Wiring a Bathroom Exhaust Fan and Switch”
  1. Ed Anderson says:

    I would like to know there to find a limit switch for a bathroom exhaust fan. It is a Fasco model R359

  2. Tina says:

    Can I Replace a Light with a Motion Sensor?
    I have 2 different switches for the bathroom light and fan. I want to keep the fan and replace the light switch with a motion sensor light switch. The wires are in the same box. There is a black wire, red one, white one and the ground that is in the box. The light switch has a black wire hooked to it and the black wire that goes to the fan and the light. The fan switch has the ground wire, the red one and the white one hook to it. Can I replace the light with a motion sensor light switch?

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Motion Detector Occupancy Sensor for a Bathroom Light
    Hi Tina,
    The bathroom light switch can be replaced with a motion detector, motion sensor, or occupancy sensor switch as you have described. All of these switches are very similar and are a great energy saving device. In fact, you may consider installing an occupancy sensor for the exhaust fan as well, only configure the length of time the exhaust fan will stay on longer to allow steam and odors to ventilate out of the bathroom.
    Interesting Note: In many states occupancy sensors are now required in bathrooms by the NEC code.
    I hope this helps you,