I purchased a used ceiling fan. We noticed the ceiling fan only had 2 wires...a black and white. When we took down the existing fan. We noticed there were only 2 wires in the ceiling box...black and white. I have read there are suppose to be 3 or 4 wires, but neither the fan nor ceiling box has that many. Also the ceiling fan had a remote, but the person lost it. Can we still install the ceiling fan with only 2 black and 2 white wires and can a remote still be used with it? And if we can, how do we wire it ?]

  • What make/model is the fan, and can you post photos of both the box and the fan? – ThreePhaseEel Oct 23 '16 at 2:39
  • You'll need a remote to control anything. Get a replacement before you waste your time on an install. – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 23 '16 at 2:42


But it depends how your house is wired.

  • Some houses have a light switch on the wall, which controls the fan or fan/light together. In that case there would only be 2 wires - switched hot and neutral.
  • Some houses have 2 light switches on the wall, for the fan, and light, separately. Then you would see 3 wires - fan-switched-hot, light-switched-hot, and a neutral.
  • Some houses have no light switch at all, and the fan needs to be switched off at the fan. They have only 2 wires - always-hot and neutral.

In the last case, your choices are: use a switch on the fan; use a wireless remote that's part of the fan; or a special control module that mounts in the fan shroud and talks to a remote control (typically installed at a light switch).

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The black and white at the box are hot and neutral, respectively. You can connect both a fan and a light kit to them. Typically you'll have a black and a blue for those (blue when a light kit is present), and they'd both connect to the black from the box. White from the fan connects to white from the box.

Your remote control unit is probably IR (like a typical TV remote), so a learning universal remote could probably replace it. You'll need to find the codes for your fan online or elsewhere, or run through the remote's trial-and-error procedure to find them.

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  • 1
    Most TV remotes these days are still IR. – ThreePhaseEel Oct 23 '16 at 3:36
  • Right. That's what I meant. Does that mistake really warrant a downvote? – isherwood Oct 24 '16 at 13:25

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