How to Wire a Reostat Switch on a Fan

Written by nichole liandi
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How to Wire a Reostat Switch on a Fan
Wiring a rheostat to your fan allows control of the fan's speed. (Geir Pettersen/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

A rheostat is a variable resistor used for controlling the amount of current in an electrical circuit. When used with a fan, a rheostat switch will control the fan's operating speed by limiting the amount of current that flows to the motor. A broken rheostat will disable the fan or limit the speed settings, so you'll need to replace it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Slide connectors
  • Crimp tool

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  1. 1

    Unplug the fan from the electrical source. Loosen and remove the nut holding on the existing rheostat with an adjustable wrench. Pull the switch out of the fan housing or mounting point.

  2. 2

    Grasp the wires attached to the rheostat with a pair of pliers and pull them directly off of the mounting tabs on the rheostat switch. There are four wires, two that come from the power cord of the fan and two leading to the motor.

  3. 3

    Place the new rheostat switch in the fan and secure it in place with the nut you removed in Step 1, tightening the nut with your adjustable wrench.

  4. 4

    Inspect the slide connectors on the ends of the wires and see if they match the size of the tabs on the rheostat switch. If they do, proceed to Step 6. If not, proceed to Step 5.

  5. 5

    Cut off the slide connectors with a set of wire cutters. Remove 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends of the wires with a set of wire cutters. Place a slide connector onto each wire, and crimp them onto the bare wire ends with a crimp tool.

  6. 6

    Push the slide connectors on the wires onto the tabs of the rheostat switch. The wires leading from the power cord will be placed on the tabs marked "input," and the wires leading to the fan motor placed on the tabs marked "output."

Tips and warnings

  • Don't work on the fan if it is plugged in.

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