Electrical Wiring in the Home/rheostat switch


QUESTION: I have a large beam through my living/dining rooms and it has a chandelier hanging over the dining room table. The chandelier is controlled by a rheostat switch. I'd like to add a ceiling fan to the beam, but the only available source of power is the box for the chandelier. Would it work for me to tap into the chandelier "ceiling box" to get my power for the ceiling fan? My thought is  that when I do not want the chandelier lit, I could turn on the chandelier and turn the rheostat to its lowest level and still have power to run the ceiling fan. Or, does the rheostat restrict the amount of electricity so that the ceiling fan would not run? I don't want to change out the rheostat switch because there are times when I'll want power to the fan, but not have the chandelier lit. It's almost like I am talking myself out of this as I write! Thanks for your advice.

ANSWER: Is thus a true wound wire rheostat or just a dimmer?
Huge chandelier?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I do not know the actual type of switch- rheostat or dimmer. Describing it further, it has three pre-set positions so that the chandelier acts like a three-way bulb: low, medium and high. As for size of chandelier, I presume you mean number of bulbs. It has twelve "candelabra" base bulbs.

That would suggest that it is not a wire wound rheostat, but electronics of some type.

I know that there is a manufacturer which makes a Fan/Light combination unit which relies on a digitally controlled unit installed at the fan to control the light and fan separately.

It was intended to allow someone to install a ceiling fan and light where there had only been a light, so that the one controlled wire could have different impacts on two different items, the dimmed light and the speed controlled fan.

If the relay could handle the lighting load, then you ought to be able to install the relay unit at the light or fan and use the dual control to operate the two items. I think it may have been a Hunter item.

Good luck.
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Robert Wilber


Licensed Philadelphia electrician serving Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. I install and repair residential, commercial and industrial wiring and lighting. Troubleshooting and repair of problems that stump other people is my favorite. I am willing to help people figure out why things don`t work. I understand motor controls, transformers and machine wiring. I do not teach basics to novices or do free design work.


Experience in the area I have 44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair, 480 volts and below. This is not to be confused with one week repeated two thousand times.

44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair

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