How to wire a light switch with a red wire

Written by cecilia harsch Google
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How to wire a light switch with a red wire
Locate the red wire to light up your fan. (Ceiling Fan image by Towards Ithaca from Fotolia.com)

Residential light circuits normally include three wires, a black (hot) wire, a white (neutral) wire and a bare copper (ground) wire. There are times that an additional red wire gets included in the mix. This happens when installing a ceiling fan with separate motor and lighting switches in the switch box. A hot wire is required for the switch that controls the ceiling fan motor, and an additional hot wire is required for the light switch. To identify one hot wire from the other, electricians will run a red wire for the light switch wiring.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Orange wire connectors
  • Yellow wire connectors
  • Wire cutter/strippers
  • 14 solid THHN green wire
  • 14 solid THHN black wire
  • Phillips or flat head screwdriver
  • Double-gang switch plate cover

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Turn off the circuit breaker at the main electrical panel that supplies power to the switch and the ceiling fan.

  2. 2

    Locate the ceiling fan wires inside the switch box on the wall. The ceiling fan wires consist of black, red, white and bare copper; the black connects to the ceiling fan motor, the red connects to the ceiling fan light kit, the white wire is the common neutral wire for both the ceiling fan motor and light kit and the bare copper wire is the ground wire.

  3. 3

    Locate the power supply wires inside the switch box on the wall. They consist of a black, white and bare copper wire. Power supply wires supply the electricity from the main electrical panel to the switches and though to the ceiling fan.

  4. 4

    Connect the white wires together in the electrical switch box. Twist an orange wire connector onto the two white wires connecting them together. Push these wires to the back of the electrical switch box.

  5. 5

    Create pigtail wires: Use wire cutter/strippers to cut two 6-inch pieces of 14 solid THHN green wire and two 6-inch pieces of 14 solid THHN black wire. Strip ½ inch of insulation off each end of the four pigtail wires.

  6. 6

    Connect the two bare copper wires with the two green pigtails by twisting a yellow wire connector onto all four wires.

  7. 7

    Connect the black power supply wire with the two black pigtails by twisting an orange wire connector onto all three wires.

  8. 8

    Wire the light switch to the red ceiling fan light kit red wire: Wrap the red wire from the ceiling fan light kit around one of the screws on the right side of the switch; wrap one of the black pigtail wires around the remaining screw on the right side of the switch, and wrap one of the green pigtails around the green ground screw on the switch. Tighten all three screws to secure the wires to the light switch.

  9. 9

    Wire the ceiling fan motor switch to the black ceiling fan motor wire. Wrap the black wire from the ceiling fan motor around a screw located on the right side of the switch, and wrap the remaining black pigtail around the remaining screw on the right side of the switch. Wrap the remaining green pigtail wire around the green ground screw on the switch. Tighten all three screws.

  10. 10

    Install the switches into the switch box on the wall. Push all excess wires into the switch box and use the screws provided with the switches to connect them to the top and the bottom of the switch box. Cover the switches with a double-gang switch plate cover and attach it to the switches with the matching screws.

  11. 11

    Turn on the circuit breaker at the main electrical panel that supplies power to the switch and the ceiling fan.

Tips and warnings

  • Review your steps prior to wiring the switches to verify you have all wires connected to the proper locations.
  • Always make sure you turn off the electricity to the area you are working to avoid electrical shock.

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