I'm a member of a sister site to this one so I thought I would ask this here.

I'm replacing my ceiling fan the kitchen of my old house and coming out of the ceiling was white , black and brown wires.

The old fan wasn't using the brown wire and it was just hanging there with the end cut off so no bare wire was sticking out.

There is no ground as I was expecting a green wire for that.

What would the brown wire be for and is it safe to hang there? I know just because it was done that way doesn't mean its safe or the right way.

Thank you

  • Where is your house? I think location matters in this case – Alexander von Wernherr Sep 12 '18 at 12:51
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    It could be anything. The color doesn't give much information. It could be that they ran an additional wire to eventually add a lamp in the future. It could be for controlling more elaborated fans with multiple speeds. It could be a earth wire with the wrong color. But your question isn't really about electronic design, and I don't think it is on-topic. – dim Sep 12 '18 at 12:51
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    I wouldn't rely on wire colors for anything; electricity doesn't see colors. Maybe the person who put the wires just used the first wire that was available. I think that if is not connected, is only a spare wire, for adding a lamp in the future, or for some fans that use different wires for forward and for reverse movement. – mguima Sep 12 '18 at 13:32
  • House is in Northern Illinois. Per @ratchet freak, I'm thinking it was previously used for the switch but the wire is just thinner than the black/white which caused me to originally assume it was an earth. I know earth is green but like dim said, color isn't always an accurate method to determine use, especially in my house. – imvain2 Sep 12 '18 at 15:24
  • @dim I apologize for the wrong area, I didn't know the DIY/Home Improvement area existed, I was immediately thinking electrical engineering was the closest. – imvain2 Sep 12 '18 at 15:27

Ceiling fans tend to also have lights integrated with then and you want to control the separately. This is why 2 live wires are often run from the switch to the fan.

To check you can open the switch that controls the fan and see if a matching wire is present and has continuity to the wire in the ceiling box.

It is safe to leave it disconnected. However I suggest you cap it off with a wire nut at both ends to avoid the copper inside from touching something it shouldn't.

  • Thank you. However, it isn't controlled by a switch its always on. But you did give me an idea, there is a "random" switch in my kitchen that doesn't control anything. I'm wondering if that brown wire was for the switch, its just thinner than the black/white wiring. But I agree, that I'm going to cap it off anyway. – imvain2 Sep 12 '18 at 15:21

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