How to Wire a Fan's Dimmer Switch

Written by douglas quaid
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How to Wire a Fan's Dimmer Switch
Install a toggle to conveniently change your ceiling fan's speed. (fan image by Lucy Clark from

Ceiling fans keep the air cool and circulating in your home, but changing the fan speed with a pull chain can be inconvenient. If your home ceiling fan is controlled from a wall switch, upgrading the switch to a combination switch and speed selector is a simple job. You cannot use an ordinary lighting dimmer switch for a ceiling-fan motor. The fan motor is made to run at set speeds at specific voltages, and supplying unexpected voltages will damage the motor. Speed selector toggles have different settings that supply the correct voltage to run the motor at different speeds.

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Combination switch and speed-selector toggle

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  1. 1

    Obtain a wiring diagram from your selector switch's manufacturer. Wiring diagrams are often available on the manufacturer's website. If you can't find it online, call them.

  2. 2

    Turn your fan on, and use the pull switch to set it to the highest speed. When the speed selector is installed, the pull switch should always be set to the highest speed. Trying to adjust the speed with the pull switch after installing the speed selector will cause problems in the fan motor and damage it.

  3. 3

    Turn off any sensitive electronics such as your home computer. Open your home's breaker box and turn off the breaker for the room the fan is in. Devices like your computer need to go through a gradual shutdown, so you don't want to suddenly cut the power if you accidentally flip the wrong breaker.

  4. 4

    Flip the fan on and off from the wall switch to make sure the power is off. Use a screwdriver to remove the face of the current fan switch and expose the wires. The wire colours may vary with different fan manufacturers, but generally the black wire is the hot power line and red, blue, or yellow is for the light. Green is always ground and white is always neutral. Disconnect the switch from the wires.

    If your fan is controlled from two wall switches, one for the motor and one for the light, open and disconnect the switch for the motor and leave the switch for the light alone.

  5. 5

    Connect the wires to the terminal screws on the combination switch and speed selector, following the manufacturer's wiring diagram. Screw the faceplate onto the wall.

  6. 6

    Turn the circuit breaker back on.

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