Can I use a universal remote for my ceiling fan?

Updated February 21, 2017

Remote-operated ceiling fans can be a way of avoiding the trouble of turning your fan on and off and adjusting its settings by hand. Typically, ceiling fan manufacturers include remote controls along with their remote-controlled ceiling fans, but if you misplace or break your remote, purchasing and programming a universal ceiling fan remote can also work.

Universal Remotes

Numerous manufacturers offer universal remotes to replace ones that no longer operate a ceiling fan for one reason or another. Most offer full functionality, including turning the fan and light on and off, adjusting the speed and adjusting the direction of the fan blades. Most also have limited range, but since you will most likely need to adjust a ceiling fan only when you're in the same room as the fan, this isn't much of a drawback.

Dip Switch Programming

Remote controls and ceiling fans operate by way of a series of dip switches, tiny switches that are placed in either an up or down position. Your remote won't be able to control your fan unless each dip switch on the fan and the remote are placed in the correct positions. Just as if your purchase a universal remote for your TV, when you purchase a new universal remote for your ceiling fan it will come with instructions that guide you through programming the remote to the fan via dip switches.

Incompatible Fans

Fans that were not built to be controlled by a remote control to begin with can be converted to have remote control functionality. All you need do is purchase a remote control and receiver adaptor kit and install it on the remote. Sometimes, it's more economically viable to simply purchase a ceiling fan that you can operate by remote out of the box. Alternatively, some manufacturers offer standard ceiling fans that you can operated by a pull-chain, and fans with remote receivers added at an extra cost that you can operate by a pull-chain or a remote.

Other Considerations

Obvious as it may seem, you can resolve many ceiling fan remote issues by either replacing the batteries or reprogramming the dip switches on the fan and remote. If your remote fails to operate your ceiling fan, then check the troubleshooting steps listed in the documentation that came with your remote if you still have it, or contact the manufacturer's customer support line if you don't. Take a few minutes to fix the remote on your own rather than risk spending time and money on replacing a remote that you didn't need to replace.

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About the Author

Eoghan McCloskey is a technical support representative and part-time musician who holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and political science from Texas State University. While at Texas State, McCloskey worked as a writing tutor at the Texas State Writing Center, proofreading and editing everything from freshman book reports to graduate theses.