A lot of modern ceiling fans seem to come with remote control units. Several of the new units even come with plastic plugs on the wiring to make it easier for the installer. These fans all say "Do not install this fan with variable speed wall control." However, it says that it will damage the remote control receiver.

Is it reasonable to assume that if you remove the remote control unit and wire the fan directly to the variable speed wall control, this installation is safe? My understanding is that a proper variable speed fan control (not a dimmer) would operate in exactly the same manner as the remote control unit.

In the case of the fans with the plastic plugs, this would involve cutting the plug off the end and wiring the fan directly into the wires in the ceiling.

Here is an example manual from a fan sold by Lowes: http://pdf.lowes.com/installationguides/836071007989_install.pdf

Page 3: ELECTRIC SHOCK HAZARD - Do not install this fan with variable speed wall control or wall-mounted dimmer switch. It will permanently damage the fan’s remote control receiver and cause the fan’s functions to fail.



There are different ways to design fan motors and speed controls. Many of the technologies are incompatible with each other. The industry does not want to help you match up brand X fan to brand Y control, because Brand X also sells a fan with feature Y, and they want to upsell you into that instead.

Since they don't want you doing it, they don't list their products for that use (i.e. Ask UL to test and certify it as safe). You must install all electrical machines consistent with their listing/instructions.

  • Can you provide any reference or more information on the different types of fan motors and controls? I agree that you may be running the unit in an untested configuration. I just have a hard time believing that there are many modern conflicting types of speed control and that those types would be damaging to each other.
    – Luke
    Mar 25 '17 at 23:57
  • @Luke I know... it's frustrating. But the ruling factor is NEC 110.3B, "Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling". So you need to hunt for a fan that doesn't have those restrictions. Honestly, it's unlikely to work properly anyway. A proper multi-pole fan motor is expensive, and the big-box cheapies take shortcuts to hit the attractive pricepoint. Those shortcuts are partially responsible for their incompatibility. Mar 26 '17 at 0:44
  • Would the same logic apply to any random 3 or 4-speed fan control (slider, knob, or perhaps even smart control)? The set-points of the $10 slider control may be different than the set-points of a built-in pull chain. I am assuming that you can safely install most 3 or 4 speed fan controls with most pull chain fans. Similarly, I assume a variable speed fan control is kind of like the 3 speed slider controls but with lots of different set points? Does this mean a variable speed fan control is still too different for some reason, or is one of my other assumptions wrong?
    – TTT
    Apr 15 '21 at 17:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.