Wire a ceiling fan with light to one switch

Last Updated on March 13, 2021 by Dave Farquhar

People frequently wire a ceiling fan with a light to two light switches. That way they can control the fan with one switch and the light with the other. But what if the room has only one switch and you have to wire a ceiling fan with light to one switch? You can still do it. You just have to know what to do with the fan’s red or blue wire.

Wire a ceiling fan with light to one switch: Safety first

Wire a ceiling fan with light to one switch
You can install a ceiling fan with a light in a room with a single light switch with a simple wiring trick.

First, turn off power to the fixture at the electrical panel.

Second, remove the light fixture in the room but don’t unwire it just yet. Mark which wires are in use, or at the very least, take a photo of the wiring with your phone. This will save you time and heartache later. Don’t expect to remember what wires went where.

Once you label what wires in the box went to what color wires on the fixture, you can unwire the fixture and take it down.

Now look at the box. Make sure the box is rated for a ceiling fan. If it isn’t, hardware and home improvement stores sell boxes suitable for ceiling fans. Buy and install one. Safety first.

A neutral wire can shock you, so be sure to check it to make sure all wires are actually electrically dead.

Mount the bracket

Mount the fan bracket according to the instructions that came with your fan. Then slide the fan into the bracket to get it ready for wiring.

Wiring time

Inside the electrical box, you’ll find either a single white wire or, more likely, a bundle of white wires. Those are the neutral, or common, wires. The ceiling fan may have one or two white wires. Connect those to the white wire or wire bundle in your box.

Use the wire nuts that came with your fan, or use new wire nuts of the appropriate size. Wire nuts rarely go bad, but guess what? It happened to me once, and it turned a 30-minute project into a two-hour one. Don’t make your project any harder on yourself than you need to.

The wiring trick that lets you wire a ceiling fan with light to one switch

Now for the trick. The ceiling fan will have a black wire and another non-white wire. That second wire is usually blue or red. That’s usually the hot wire for the light. Verify it with the instructions. Once you know which wire is the hot wire for the light, twist that wire together with the black wire. Then connect them to the black or red wire that came out of your electrical box. Use whichever wire in the box the old light fixture was connected to.

Finish mounting the cover and whatever else the fan’s instructions tell you to do.

One last thing

It’s best to make sure your light switch is up to carrying the load of both the fan and the light. Replacing your old light switch with a 20-amp switch isn’t a bad idea. A standard 15-amp switch costs about 75 cents. A 20-amp switch costs about $3.

Wire a ceiling fan with light to one switch: In conclusion

That’s how you wire a ceiling fan with light to one switch. Now when you turn on your light switch, the fan will have power. To turn the fan and lights off separately, use the pull chains on the fan.

More energy and money saving ideas

Ceiling fans help you save money and energy by making rooms more comfortable without setting your air conditioner as low.

I’ve done a number of other things to help me save energy over the years. Most are pretty inexpensive. I installed thermal blinds and thermal curtains. Then I insulated my hot water pipes and my electrical outlets. And of course I use LED light bulbs.

My electric bill dropped 19 percent in 2011, so these things work.

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