Wiring a Ceiling Fan and Light for Home Automation

Control ceiling fan blades and lights independently

Ceiling fan in bedroom
Wiring a Ceiling Fan and Light. Spaces Images / Getty Images

The easy way to wire a ceiling fan is to use a single switch for both the fan and the lights. The switch then controls the fan and lights, and if independent control is desired, it is achieved through pull chains. This configuration limits home automation control of the fan and lights. By providing separate switch controls, the lights can be dimmed, and the fan can be started and stopped based on room temperature. When they are controlled by a single switch, everything is either on or off.

How Ceiling Fans Work

Ceiling fans with lights typically have four wires: black (fan hot), blue (light hot), white (neutral), and green (ground). When connecting both the fan and the light to a single switch, the black and blue wires from the fan are connected to the black wire from the switch using a twist-on wire connector. The white neutral wire is then connected to the white wire on the switch. When connecting the fan and the light to separate switches, connect the black “fan” wire to the black wire on one switch and the blue “light” wire to the black wire on the other switch. Because most electrical ceiling cable has three conductors, the blue “light” wire can be electrically connected to the switch through the red conductor in the ceiling cable. The last step is to connect the white neutral wire on the fan to the white wire in the ceiling cable and then to the white wires on each switch.

Caution: Always turn off circuit power at the breaker before attempting any electrical wiring.

Home Automation Control of Ceiling Fans

Using two separate switches makes home automation control of the fan and light possible. Fan ceiling lights often use multiple bulbs, which are bright at full power. Configuring the light to work on its own switch allows you to use a home automation dimmer switch to vary the light intensity. Never place a fan on a dimmer switch, though, as this may cause the fan to hum. Configuring the fan to work on an on/off nondimming switch allows home automation control of the fan. Wiring for independent control of the fan has many useful applications including programming the fan to turn on and off based on room temperature.​

Using Your Fan to Save Money

Ceiling fans increase air conditioning system efficiency by circulating the room air, thereby reducing how hard the air conditioning has to work. Turning the fan on when the temperature rises cuts down on your air conditioning bill. Turning the fan off when the temperature is low, saves on unnecessary electrical consumption.

Many ceiling fans have four or five light bulbs, which make the room too bright for most uses, and power consumption will be high and expensive. Using a dimmer switch to reduce power consumption to 50 percent can reduce your electricity consumption while still providing adequate light in the room.