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TOPIC: Fan on dimmer switch

Re: Fan on dimmer switch 12 years 4 months ago #32601

  • James Levy
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Dimmer switches are often used with ceiling fans.  These are great to use for the lighting switch, however special dimmer switches should be used for the switch that would control the ceiling fan motor.  This type of motor dimmer is usually a three speed switch, with speeds of OFF, LOW, Medium, and HI.  Use of regular dimmer switch on a ceiling fan motor will lead to overheating of the ceiling fan motor windings, and premature failure of the ceiling fan.

If the ceiling fan is to be controlled by a remote control, the incoming hot feed would connect to the power terminal on the remote module along with the fans black and blue wires.  Some modules will also require the neutral to be connected to the remote module.  When wiring a ceiling fan for use with a remote control, wire should not go through a switch, or the remote will be disabled every time that the ceiling fan switch is turned off.

Speed controls for paddle fans are nothing more than a heavy duty rheostat that will handle the start up load of the motor. You would never know the difference between a light dimmer and a fan control without removing the switch plate since it is marked as such. The real give away is the motor on the fan will more than likely buzz a good deal of connected to a dimmer.

If a true speed control is used, there is no issue and the fan can have a variable speed function and live a long and happy life.

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Home and commercial Inspections in Medford, Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Marlton NJ, and the surrounding areas.

Re: Fan on dimmer switch 12 years 3 months ago #32972

I agree with both of Dom's statements. There are also newer fans that are wired with two wires and have a wireless romote to control the lights and fan separately.

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Re: Fan on dimmer switch 12 years 3 months ago #32973

After reading about the fan dimmers I pulled the cover and it is stated clearly on the dimmer.

Article from the Laker, Great lakes chapter of ASHi

Electrical Inspection Tip
By: Chuck Zehner
I find that some home inspectors repeatedly miss the same electrical defects. In most cases, I be-lieve that this is due primarily to a lack of knowledge, not a lack of desire to do a great job. I plan to offer an electrical inspection tip in each LAKER issue.
On a regular basis, I find ceiling fans con-trolled by a rheostat switch that is UL listed for ―Permanently installed incandescent lights only‖. This type of switch is NOT acceptable for a motor. In most cases this just causes the rheostat to overheat and fail. In this case, the switch will no longer ―dim‖ but may still turn the circuit on and off. Worst case scenario, the switch can overheat and start a fire. The
correct rheostat switch for a ceiling fan should be marked for a ―motor control circuit‖. Many, but not all motor switches will have detents with distinct stops. Whenever I find a fan controlled by a rheostat with-out detents, I simply pull the knob and switch cover to confirm that the switch is for lights only. If not, it
always gets reported as a safety hazard.
Occasionally, I’ll even find a dimmer switch connected to a switched wall receptacle outlet. This may be okay for the current home owner that knows this, and has their floor lamp connected to it, but a disaster for an unaware home buyer, with a com-puter, florescent fixture, etc. My advice, whenever you
see a dimmer switch, find out what it controls and report accordingly.
Be safe, and be the best inspector in your area!

I hope it is OK to post this article.

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Re: Fan on dimmer switch 12 years 3 months ago #32978

  • Bert de Haan
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Thanks.  That was helpful.  I don't understand one of his comments (I think they are his, ie. Chuck Zehner, not yours,)

.... simply pull the knob and switch cover to confirm that the switch is for lights only. If not, it
always gets reported as a safety hazard

If not, it gets reported as a safety hazard?  If it is for lights only it would need to be reported wouldn't it?  Am I misunderstanding it?

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Bert de Haan
Benchmark Home Inspection Services Kitchener-Wateroo and Guelph area Home Inspection
Serving Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Orangeville, Mount Forest and surrounding areas.
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Re: Fan on dimmer switch 12 years 3 months ago #33284

Regular dimmer switches cannot be used for the fan controls.  But there are units available out there that are easy to install. 

Call it out as a defect and recommend proper installation.


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Re: Fan on dimmer switch 12 years 3 months ago #33549

I find this a lot in home in Charlotte. We find it at in Columbia and Greenville too.


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