thanks in advance for the help!

I am attempting to install a dimmer switch to solely operate the light on my ceiling fan light fixture. I have read that installing a dimmer for the fan is dangerous, however I have been told that having the dimmer only control the light, not the fan and the light, is okay. Correct me if I've been told wrong!

Before I attempted to install the dimmer, there was one switch on the wall that controlled the light and the fan was operated by the pull cord attached to the fixture. This is what I continue to achieve after I have installed the dimmer switch for the light. In the switch box there were 2 black wires, 1 red wire, and the ground wire. On the switch, the black wires were attached to 2 brass screws, the ground wire attached to a blackish-green colored screw, and the red wire was inserted into a small whole in the back of the switch labeled a "push wire".

On the dimmer switch that I bought, there is a ground wire, a red wire, a black wire (and a red/white striped wire, which the instructions said to cap as it could be used for 3 way switch, which I don't think I need for this job.)

I have left the red/white striped wire capped, as instructed. My ground wires are connected. And the 2 black wires from my wall are connected to the black and red wires on the dimmer switch box. And I have capped the red wire from the wall. This combination controls the light appropriately, however the fan is not working at all.

From this combination, I have deduced that the red wire controls the fan. Is the "push wire" hole on the original switch just a constant source of power and is not operated by the switch?

When I had red to red connected, with the 2 black wires from the wall connected to the black wire on the dimmer, the dimmer switch controlled the fan motor and the light did not even turn on. When I capped one or the other black wires from the wall, the dimmer still controlled the fan motor, or the whole fixture did not work, if I am remembering correctly.

So my question is, is there a way to wire the dimmer switch to have it solely operate the light and have the fan be controlled by the pull cord with the dimmer switch that I have already purchased? Do I need to buy a different type of dimmer switch? Or should I scrap the idea of having ambiance in my living room from my ceiling and invest in some lamps?!

The dimmer switch that I bought is a Lutron C-L Dimmer.

Lastly, I've also noticed a buzzing sound when the light is on. Is there a way to fix this? FYI, I've been keeping the light off to avoid something bad (fire) happening.

Thank you all for the help and suggestions!

  • 1
    Are you using CFL, LED, or incandescent/halogen bulbs in the light? If they are CFLs or LEDs, are they labeled as dimmable? Nov 30, 2017 at 2:49
  • 1
    "Is the "push wire" hole on the original switch just a constant source of power and is not operated by the switch?" The "back stab" holes directly connect to the adjacent screw terminal. That is the hole adjacent to the hot wire terminal is always hot and the hole adjacent to the switched terminal is switched.
    – agentp
    Nov 30, 2017 at 12:38
  • 1
    i might put an incandescent bulb (if you can find one!) and see if that fixes the buzzing. If so, then go buy a good quality dimmable LED.
    – agentp
    Nov 30, 2017 at 12:44
  • Years back, I put in a 3-way Lutron kit (pricey) to dim the fan and light on it. The fan dim[speed] piece no longer works, but the light still does. Also be advised that CFL and LED bulbs won't work w/the older dimmers and pose a fire risk. Dec 1, 2017 at 18:07

1 Answer 1


The red wire powers the fan, yeah

The existing arrangement has separate power wires for the light and the fan running from the switch box to the fan box. This is a great thing, because it means you can pretty much do whatever to control the light and the fan separately, instead of having to faff with fan remotes or being limited to setups that use multiplexed control if you want the fan and light to do something different.

In the existing setup, the "back wire" hole was used in place of a pigtail and wirenut to feed power from the incoming black always-hot to the red wire that powers the fan. So, nut the red fan-hot wire from the wall with the black wire from the dimmer and the black always-hot from the wall (with the power off at the breaker of course!), and your fan will work again.

  • Awesome, will try tomorrow with the light of day to guide me! So basically I will take the red wire and a black wire from the wall and connect it to the black wire on the dimmer? And if that doesn't work try the other black wire from the wall and I should be good to go? Will let you know how it goes! Thanks! :)
    – arezendes
    Nov 30, 2017 at 3:29
  • 1
    Here's the trick. Do it in stages. Stage 1, power only the fan. The black wires enter the box in 2 different cables. The cable with the red wire goes to the fan. The cable without a red wire comes from the power supply. Nut together the black power supply wire, the red fan wire, and the black wire from the dimmer only. Leave the red wire from the dimmer dangling, and cap all loose wires. Now power this up. The fan should work, and you know you have the right black. Stage 2, connect the lamp to the dimmer. Done. Nov 30, 2017 at 4:00
  • @arezendes -- just nut the red from the wall with the existing junction of two black wires :) Nov 30, 2017 at 4:26
  • I got it to work! Thank you all for your help!!
    – arezendes
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:07

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