Wiring Done Right - Residential Wiring - The Right Way

Residential Wiring -  The Right Way!

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Fan / Light Combination Switch Wiring

Fan Light Combo Unit Animation

These wiring options are suitable for both paddle fans / light combos as well as exhaust fan / light combo units.

There is special electrical boxes designed to mount a fan / light combo unit and is a requirement in electrical codes of a lot of jurisdictions (ask about these at your local electrical supply store). Heavier units require additional support independent of the box itself.

Bathrooms / shower areas:

In a situation of a exhaust fan or exhaust fan / light combo that is to be used in an above bathtub or shower area, the fixture must be specifically approved for that purpose and must be GFI protected. For purposes of relating to the wiring scenarios listed bellow , the source of power cable indicated in the diagrams must be GFI protected at or before that point.

Additional note:

Bathrooms with windows that open are not required to be with bathroom exhaust fans as per the CABI One and Two Family Dwelling Codes. However having mentioned that, particularly in winter climates it still may be desirable to have an exhaust fan even if an open able window exists in the bathroom.


Do not use a regular light dimmer on the fan, fans require a extra jolt to get the blade moving, there are special fan controllers that can be used to control fan speed at the switch location (replacing the regular switch with the special fan speed controller) these are specially made to control speed and insure the fan does get moving when on, the danger in regular dimmers not meant to control a fan is that the fan could get some power applied to it but not enough to get it moving what that can do is heat it up and become a fire hazard. If using a special fan controller ensure that the fans pull string (if they have it) are set to max speed and let the fan controller control the speed. You may still have another pull string on the fan that can change blade direction.

Do not use any switched extension options to the circuit if you are utilizing a light dimmer (for the light) or fan speed controller.  Except you may use a switched onward extension with a light dimmer (for the light) IF the extension is going to another light only (no fan) and that dimmer is rated to handle the total wattage of all lights connected. Regular light dimmers are meant to be used with incandescent lighting, and cannot be used on fluorescent or other types.

 If the light and fan are configured to switch together on the same switch than do not use any controller or dimmer at all.

Select Category
Fan /Light Switched together  
Fan / Light Switched Separately  
Fan always Hot / Light switched  

By: Donald Kerr

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