Electrical Wiring in the Home/Remote control ceiling fan
QUESTION: I just installed a ceiling fan which operates ONLY using a remote control. The previous fan was controlled by two wall switches and chain-pulls. The new fan remote will only work while the main wall switch in the "on" position. The second wall switch is now no longer live (which is good). Question. Should / could I simply use a wire connector to keep the electricity constantly flowing to the fan and merely cover the wall box with a plate? Are there any advantages to keeping the wall switch active (even though it only turns the flow on/off and does not actually control the fan/light)?
The alternative is merely to keep the current wall switch active and leave it in the "on" position all the time (which is is a little annoying as, if someone inadvertently turns off the wall switch then the remote doesn't work).
ANSWER: Andrew, I sometimes have a negative suspicious ATTITUDE towards manufacturers of about anything, and these newer ceiling fans are one so you break, or more likely the cheap grade electronics give out in the remote, you get to pay whatever their replacement price is, good work if you can get it and ethics are a concept they are not familiar with,
You can push a button to open your garage door right? or you can use the remote from your vehicle?
So why is it the fan only works from the remote? It is not like some advanced electronic design that has not been simply invented, it has been invented, tested, and has worked well for decades.
We by sure accident bought one of these was installed by a builder, we had a house fire and was part of the rebuild, or I would have stopped when I got the instruction manual, I don't remember anything on the cut sheet stating OH BY THE WAY if you want this to function from a wall switch, we made it so you are dependent on us to have the control, hope that helps,
So enough of my whining, and to answer your questions The second wall switch is no longer live and that is good? How why is it not active?
Apparently the second switch was part of a three way, and hopefully it was wired out correctly or intentionally.
It really comes to down to code, and I am not an expert on the NEC, but I did research it and found you cannot CANNOT wire nut the switch leg and be done with it.
National Electrical Code is stretching the national because some cities or townships choose to use certain dates of revised code,or their own code for some issues, some are Ok with older codes, and some keep up with changes which causes other issues like grandfathering some issues and or conventions.
As long as the three way was disabled according to YOUR local code, electrically speaking a wire nut is as safe as functional if not more than a switch. BUT ACCORDING TO THE MANUALS YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME WAY OF TURNING IT OFF OTHER THAN THE REMOTE< THEN YOU HAVE TO BUY THEIR CONTROL
That is why I whine.
So it appears that every fan install requires a switch of the hot leg, which is a normal switch like you have and everyone I found says you have to have a switch to power it down, now why it is not like a garage door opener no idea, but I respectfully disagree with the functionality.
Your last sentence sums it up well, I find it annoying myself.
A correct switch leg is the hot lead cut in two. This was a three way with another configuration, but still a hot leg cut in two.
While I could not find the exacting data in the code, every fan manual says to use a wall switch in addition.
That tells me it is more cover your butt issues, but I suppose if something got caught up in the fan or smoke starts rolling out, they want quick access to the hot leg, which would be a typical wall switch,
They left the switch in the wall of the mistake I made in choosing the fan that has to have a safety switch which is no more than the existing control.
Whatever brand you have, they should have an optional wall control available that would also satisfy the instructions of a kill switch in the same room versus just the circuit breaker, that might help with the annoyance of a typical switch that can be easily switched off.
Below is from EMERSON in the manual for a remote controlled fan install, nothing in the manual about the removal of existing switches, and it refers to the same thing, if no local codes exist use the latest [they left out latest] NEC.
Here is a link to the codes they refer to in the EMERSON manual:
If I knew your exact location, [please do not reply and publish it] I would look it up for you, but again it should only take a phone call to ask if you were to install a remote only fan, what is the procedure if any to deal with the existing switch legs and hardware.
If their response gives you any reason for concern, please let me know and I will help you sort it out. Maybe your local codes are not demanding a wall switch but not likely, I kind of see the reasoning, but if it is a code thing, then why not include the damn wall control?
Every brand I read states something close to this:
Connect the wires from the power supply to the ceiling wires
by twisting the ends together and securing them with wire
nuts. Refer to the chart and wiring diagram on the following
page to determine the wire connections. Test the connection
by tugging on the wire nuts.
Install the fan on a switched circuit so
that you can turn off the fan using a wall switch in addition to using the
1. To avoid possible shock, be sure electricity is turned off at the fuse box before wiring, and do not
operate fan without blades.
2. All wiring must be in accordance with the National Electrical Codes “ANSI/NFPA 70-2008” and
Local Electrical Codes. Use the National Electrical Code if Local Codes do not exist. The ceiling
fan must be grounded as a precaution against possible electrical shock. Electrical installation
should be made or approved by a licensed electrician.
3. The outlet box and joist must be securely mounted and capable of reliably supporting at least
50 pounds. Use only U.L. outlet boxes listed as “Acceptable for Fan Support of 22.7 kg. (50 lbs.)
or less”, and use the mounting screws provided with the outlet box. Most outlet boxes commonly
used for support of light fixtures are not acceptable for fan support and may need to be replaced.
Consult a qualified electrician if in doubt.
4. The downrod furnished with the fan provides the minimum recommended floor to fan blade
clearance for an 8 foot ceiling.
5. The fan must be mounted with the fan blades at least 7 feet from the floor to prevent accidental
contact with the fan blades.
6. Follow the recommended instructions for the proper method of wiring your ceiling fan. If you do
not know enough about electrical wiring, have your fan installed by a licensed electrician.
All setscrews must be checked and re-tightened where necessary before installation.
This fan is suitable for use with solid-state speed controls.
To reduce the risk of fire or electric shock, this fan should only be used with fan speed
control, Model No. FR-7861LMBG manufactured by Rhine Electric Co., Ltd.
To avoid fire, shock or injury, do not use an Emerson or any other brand of control not
specifically approved for this fan.
This product is designed to use only those parts supplied with this product and/or any
accessories designated specifically for use with this product by Emerson Electric Co. Substitution
of parts or accessories not designated for use with this product by Emerson Electric Co. could
result in personal injury or property damage.
To reduce the risk of personal injury, do not bend the blade flange when installing the
blade flanges, balancing the blades or cleaning the fan. Do not insert foreign objects in between
rotating fan blades.
To reduce the risk of electrical shock, this fan must be installed with an isolating wall
Hate to leave you with this answer, but it appears your only choice is to buy the control which should be made so it is not as easy to just flip off.
Let me know if you have problems with any of this, and we will think through it and do the best we can and stay in accordance with the all knowing.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Your answer was fantastic. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks this set up is less than ideal. I guess it makes sense to have a main power switch which is readily available. I also just realized that, if I leave the light turned on with the remote I can then use the main switch to turn the light on/off. Not ideal as, after I found this out last night, I wanted to have the fan on while the light was off. I hit the remote button but, of course, nothing happened as I'd turned the main switch off. I then had to turn the main switch on, turn the light off via the remote, and then use the remote to turn the fan on. My wife likes the fan on at night so will have to go through this process daily if I want to use the main wall switch for the light.
The fan is from Kendal. The only wired switch they have is the FC2. I guess I could try that but, if that doesn't work, it looks like I'm stuck with the remote. I guess I should just mount it beside the current switch and hope it doesn't crap out.
I appreciate the very kind words. It is not much comfort but it is easy to be fooled by this new fad in fans.
I am not familiar with the capabilities of the accessory switch, but anything can be hard wired, the issues of hard wiring are few if it is a new install which most of the fans sort of assume.
Retro fitting is possible but it depends on the logistics of running another switch leg, one to the fan and one to the light kit, with a duplex switch box or even two single boxes.
Depending on how the construction is situated determines the difficulty. All that is needed is the hot wire fished to the wall switch.
Another option is to visit smart home or smarthome.com or look into any type of X10 controls, but be very picky when browsing X10, they are really big on upselling.
If you are not familiar, the X10 or anything from smart home involves individual remote units that run in existing wiring.
This is done by sending the carrier signal or control signal same thing, at a completely different frequency than normal power.
That signal only controls the devices the devices can be most anything.
Example if you wanted you could probably find room for a light controller up in the junction box of the fan. Once in line with the light, you would have a remote that would dim, on/off time depending on how fancy you wanted to get with it.
There are no code issues with the modules I have them all over the house.
If you or an electrician can easily fish a hot leg to a new wall switch you can gain individual control. But you will be slaved to the remote unless you go the same possible route as the fan and install another wall switch.
If you are not familiar with the X10 or smarthome modules it is worth looking at, there is an endless amount of possible configurations that might work with your particular construction.
Past that you might consider a completely different fan that has the options you need.
It sounds like a bedroom issue, so a daily issue to fuss with, night justify the cost to start over, maybe that fan would be better served in another room.
Just some suggestions you can look at, to maybe make life a little easier considering I completely understand how easy it is to be mislead by the new technology of ceiling fans.
Actually you could use all X10 or like controls and modules on a non remote fan and individual light kit, but the wall switch issue will be an issue for both types of controls at the same time.
Which is why I do not understand why or maybe there is, a fan and light kit with remote control of both light and fan, we know it is not a futuristic setup, a garage door controller is proof it is not a big deal.
I suppose in the end the main thing is to make sure you are not breaking local code. A house fire is really fairly remote but if as I was surprised, if it happens I can tell you it is pure hell, even if you are in full compliance, as I was, and then some, including GFCIs and a whole house surge protector provided by my utility.
I cannot imagine if a fire occurred and they dug up some kind of code violation post house inspection.
Good luck and if you find a gadget that gets your attention by using some of the smart home devices, let me know if you have questions.
I have been turning on and off lights through out my home since Radio Shack was selling the remote devices more than a decade ago.
Other than watching out for the upsale, the only other caveat is purchasing the correct modules for an inductive load [fan] and a resistive load [light].
Controlling or starting a resistive load [lights] requires very little sizing other than the total wattage, but when remotely or even hard wiring an inductive load, any motor driven load, the problem is the start up current which is short in duration but 6 to even ten times the running current, so the device has to be sized to withstand that startup current.
And like most things it involves reading the small print or finding someone knowledgeable about the loads you want to control remotely.