How to Install a Ceiling Fan to Two Wall Switches

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Nothing is as frustrating as my attempt to replace all the white and gold fans in my 90’s home. Something I love about our house is that we have ceiling fans in a lot of our rooms. Most are hardwired to two separate wall switches- one for the light and one for the fan. I love the dual functionality, being able to run the fan while watching a movie, and obviously using the light without the fan turning on during the winter! I need to be able to install my ceiling fan to two wall switches.

Most fans these days have so much more function than just on/off. Almost all the fan’s I’ve bought have different fan speeds, a dimmable light, timers, special schedules etc. I love options, don’t get me wrong. But I hate the fact that because of all these special features, the fans come with remotes. You have to use these remotes to even use the basic functionality. That doesn’t work for me.

If installed according to the directions, the fan can be attached to one wall switch that will function as one thing- power on/off. This isn’t light on/off. It’s just power- and whatever settings the fixture was last on, will kick on. In an effort to not drone on about why these remotes suck, I’ll sum it up here:

5 reasons why ceiling fans with remotes are the worst:

  1. If you lose the remote, you won’t be able to change the settings on the fixture. Which means, if Mark throws the remote in the wash with our sheets (like he did with our TV remote) then whatever setting was last on, will be the permanent setting. I don’t trust the process of getting a replacement remote while I live without a light in my bedroom for a month.
  2. There’s a 3 second delay when turning on the light- even if it was the last setting. The remote receiver in the fan unit, slows the electricity down just enough for you to notice it and hate it.
  3. You have to have the remote to change the settings. As in, physically have it in your hand. I can’t imagine a life where I always know where the remote is. I won’t even buy a car if it means I have to dig through my purse to find the keys. It has to have keyless unlock and keyless start. My fan also needs keyless start.
  4. The receivers that are wired to the actual fan are so big and bulky, and you’re expected to stuff that along with all the wires up into the ceiling box. I still don’t have a solve for this without losing all functionality of different fan settings but it’s still a reason why fans with remotes suck.
  5. “But you can mount the remote to the wall and use it like a wall switch” HAHAHAHA ABSOLUTELY NOT. (I present the evidence–>)

I kinda feel strongly about this.

if you couldn’t tell…

Here’s how I installed a ceiling fan with a remote to two wall switches-

without losing the functionality of the switches or fan speed options!

DIY Electric Legal Disclaimer

This site is meant for informational purposes only. Electricity is dangerous and can cause personal injury or DEATH as well as other property loss or damage if not used or constructed properly.

The following steps describe a generic process for assembling, modifying and installing a ceiling fan. All ceiling fan specifications are different and you should follow the instruction manual that comes with your ceiling fan when installing your fixture. Any modifications made to your ceiling fan whether as described in this post or other is dangerous and will increase the risk of personal injury or DEATH as well as property loss or damage. At the very least, it will void your fixture warranty.

If you feel you do not have enough electrical wiring knowledge or experience about performing DIY electrical work, PLEASE do the smart thing and have your fan installed by a licensed electrician. DO NOT ATTEMPT ANY WIRING OF ANY KIND if you lack the knowledge and understanding required. ANY HAZARD CREATED IS THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE USER.

STEP 1: Turn off Power

Start by turning off the power at the breaker, and verifying it’s off with a non-contact voltage tester.

STEP 2: Unpack Fan and Prep for Install

Feed the electrical wires from the motor, through the downrod and then screw the downrod into the threads on the top of the motor. Threading the wire can be a bit tricky if you’re using a long downrod.

If your wires are getting stuck, use a long, solid item to help push them through. Choose an item that will fit inside the downrod (like a gardener’s stake or a straightened out metal clothes hanger) and tape the wires to the object before fishing the wire through the center.

Assembling a black ceiling fan in a bedroom. Fishing wire through the downrod
Visual for assembling a black ceiling fan in a bedroom. Fishing wire through the downrod

Screw the downrod onto the motor until it’s tight and the holes in the downrod and the motor line up. You can loosen the downrod just slightly if the holes don’t align at the tightest spot. Place the metal pin in the hole and secure it with the cotter pin (looks kind of like a bobby pin!). Tighten any screws around the collar to secure the downrod in place.

Feed the coupling cover (covers the top of the motor) over the downrod then follow with the canopy and canopy ring (these cover the electrical box in the ceiling). Until your done with installation, the canopy and ring will just rest on top of the motor.

Ceiling Fan Assembly. Place the metal pin in the hole and secure it with the cotter pin (looks kind of like a bobby pin!).  Tighten any screws around the collar to secure the downrod in place.
Ceiling Fan Assembly: Feed the coupling cover (covers the top of the motor) over the downrod

At the top of the downrod, screw the ground wire into rod and reinstall the hanger ball.

Ceiling Fan Assembly: Reinstall ground wire onto downrod.
Ceiling Fan Assembly: Reinstall hanger ball onto downrod.

STEP 3: Install Mounting Bracket to Ceiling Box

WARNING: To reduce the risk of fire, electric shock or other personal injury, mount the fan only to an outlet box or supporting system marked acceptable for fan support and use the mounting screws provided with the outlet box.

Attach the mounting bracket on the outlet box in your ceiling by securely tightening the screws provided with the outlet box through the bracket, into the ceiling.

Ceiling Electrical Box that supports a ceiling fan on two wall switches.
Ceiling Electrical Box that supports a ceiling fan on two wall switches.

STEP 4: Hang Fan onto Bracket

Carefully lift the fan motor assembly up to the mounting bracket and place the hanger ball inthe mounting bracket socket.

Ceiling Electrical Box that supports a ceiling fan on two wall switches.

STEP 5: Preparing the Receiver and Remote

Follow the instructions for preparing the remote and the receiver. Many times, these two components have code switches that allow them to communicate with each other. The instructions that come with your fan will tell you what code to set these switches to on each component.

The following step describes the process of modifying the factory electrical components in a ceiling fan in order to install it to two wall switches. Any modifications made to your ceiling fan whether as described in this step or other is dangerous and will increase the risk of personal injury or DEATH as well as property loss or damage. At the very least, it will void your fixture warranty.

If you feel you do not have enough electrical wiring knowledge or experience, have your fan installed by a licensed electrician.

I recommend connecting the fan as directed before following the next step to ensure proper connections and eliminate any other malfunctions in the fan before modifying the wiring

STEP 6: Cut “Light” Wire

Insert your receiver into the mounting bracket as described in your instructions. For angled ceilings, you’ll need to angle the fan/hanger ball to fit the receiver into the slot.

In order to be able to install your ceiling fan to two wall switches, the ceiling fan will need to have certain wires. The fan you buy has to have a receiver with 3 wires going from the motor to the receiver in order for the fan to be controlled by a remote and the two wall switches. If your wires are separated, only modifications to the connections need to be made. If these are grouped (such as mine is in the picture below), connect the grouped pins together. Cut the wire coming FROM the fan motor that goes to the light (in my case, this wire is blue). Make sure to leave enough room on each side of your cut and cap off the end of the wire meant for the receiver with a plastic wire nut.

Ceiling Fan Assembly: Cut the wire intended for the light to connect the light to one of two wall switches, directly.

STEP 7: Make the Electrical Connections

Using plastic wire nuts, secure the below wires together. Make sure there are no loose strands or connections.

This assumes the black wire controls the fan, while the blue controls the light kit on the fan. Check the documentation that came with the fixture, for proper wiring instructions.

Wiring for Ceiling Fan Installed to two wall switches.

From the Fan to the Receiver
If your fan has grouped wires, after cutting out the light wire, you’ll just attach them as normal to the grouped wire from the receiver. If your fan did not come with grouped wires, connect your wires according to the notes below:
Black Wire attaches to the Black Wire on the receiver.
White Wire attaches to the White Wire on the receiver.

From Receiver To Outlet Box
Black Wire “AC in L” attaches to the Hot Wire in Outlet Box- connected to switch you want to control the fan. This wire is most often black or red. Mine is black.
White Wire “AC in N”, (which is already attached to the White Wire from the fan) attaches to the Neutral Wire (White) in the outlet box.
Blue Wire from the receiver gets capped with a plastic wire nut.

From Fan To Outlet Box
Blue Wire that we cut (Light) attaches to the other Hot Wire in the Outlet Box- connected to the switch you want to control the light (mine is red).
Green Wires (both coming from the receiver and the connected to the downrod) attaches to the Ground wire (Green or Bare Wire) in the outlet box.
White Wire from Fan was already attached to the Neutral Wires (White) from the receiver and the outlet box.

Now when one switch is on, the remote will control the light. The other switch will turn the fan on and off and the remote will control the fan speed, schedule etc. when the switch is in the ON position.

STEP 8: Add Fan Blades

Insert the fan blades through the slots in the motor and align the screw holes between the two. Secure the blades with three screws. Repeat this step for all blades.

STEP 9: Add Light

Follow your instruction manual for attaching the lighting kit. My fan has a mounting ring as well as an LED light. Plug the light into the fan, then screw in the mounting ring and the light with three keyhole screws.

Carefully lift the glass up to the fan and turn clockwise until the glass is snug. Do not overtighten.

STEP 10: Test Fan with Remote

Check to make sure the connections are all working by turning the power back on and confirming the switches and remote function. If the light or the fan isn’t working, check to make sure the wire connections are secure. For any issues with the fan function or remote, check the troubleshooting section in the instruction manual.

STEP 11: Attach the Canopy to the Ceiling

Remember the canopy that we left sitting on the top of the fan back in step ? Now that you’ve confirmed the fan is functioning properly (success!!) secure the canopy over the wire mess at the ceiling. First, tuck all the wires into the ceiling box, or get them as close to the receiver as possible. Be careful not to loosen any of the wire connections during this step. Bring the canopy up to the ceiling and follow the instructions to secure the canopy to the ceiling. My fan has two mounting screws and a canopy ring that snaps over the screws for a nice, finished look.

That’s it! You’re done! I bet it feels amazing to finally figure out how to install your ceiling fan to two wall switches. It feels even BETTER if this isn’t the first fan you’ve installed in your space. And REALLY good if it’s the third fan you tried to install (like me). After this, I’m either going to get going on the other three ceiling fans I want to replace in the next two weeks, or they’ll still be the old, gold and white versions 2 years from now.

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