I'm adding a ceiling fan and wired smoke detector to a bedroom that previously had just a switched outlet. The switched outlet currently receives power via 14-3 cable coming from the switch, with the black wire always hot and the red wire controlled by the switch. My intention is to rewire the outlet so that it is not switched and run power from it up to the new fan and smoke detector.

I see two ways to wire this, and I just want to make sure that the more efficient way to do it is up to code.

  1. Run 14-3 wire from the outlet to the fan, connecting the black wire such that it is always hot and the red wire so that it is switched. I would then use the red wire to provide power to the fan, and use the black wire to provide constant power to 14-2 cable running from the fan to the smoke detector. This is the option I'm leaning towards.
  2. Just run 2 separate 14-2 cables from the outlet to the fan and smoke detector.

Also, I assume that many of you will point out that I should switch the fan lights separately from the fan, but I'm not going to do this because the fan I'm adding comes with a remote, and the receiver actually isn't set up to accommodate separate wires for the fan and the light. Finally, some of you may point out that it's not a great idea to have the lights and outlets in the room on the same circuit. I agree, but it would be a massive amount of work power these new devices from another circuit, and the bedroom is already on its own circuit with just 3 outlets so I'm not too concerned.

  • Sounds like you have it figured out. I would just add that you don't have to rewire the receptacle. You could leave it switched or split wire it and have half switched and half always powered. It's your personal preference. There is nothing in the Code limiting what you can do here as long as the circuit is protected by a 15 amp breaker for #14 wire.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 16:09
  • I think his intention is to repurpose the switch to control the fan and not the outlet.
    – DoxyLover
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


Yes, that is fine.

It will ease wire count in the switch box if you use the 14/3 option. Fan boxes are usually nice and big.


Go with 14/4 anyway -- relying on a remote that comes with a fan is almost never wise

Here's the thing -- fan remotes suck. They get lost, run out of battery, and generally don't play nice with other sorts of control systems. So, it's best to have the wires in the wall for having separate switch control of the light and fan even if you don't plan on using separate wall switches at the moment -- this keeps your options open for the future instead of backing yourself into a bit of a corner. (Best part, you can use 14/4 straight to the switch box and get all this in one cable instead of having to wrestle with two.)

  • It sounds like he has 14/3 from the switch to the outlet, and is adding new wire from the outlet to the fan. For 14/4 to be helpful, he’d have to also use it between the switch and the outlet.
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 0:54

The National Electrical Code is very clear on this issue. Smoke detectors shall be on their on circuit. National Electrical Code, 2017 edition, page 70-621, right hand column, Article 760-41-B, BRANCH CIRCUIT. "The branch circuit supplying the fire alarm equipment shall supply no other loads."

  • 1
    Can you cite the relevant section of the NEC? That would make your answer much better.
    – mmathis
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 20:30
  • This is incorrect -- NEC 760.41/760.121 do not apply to single and multiple station smoke alarm systems (otherwise, they'd conflict with NFPA 72 29.6.3 point 4) Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 0:02

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