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double switch [![enter image description hereasingle switchge description here][1]2Installing new ceiling fan with a remote. Pulled the old fan down and from the ceiling I have a black wire, a white wire wrapped in black electrical tape and a bare ground wire coming from ceiling. I have a single switch on one side of kitchen that controlled the light to old fan. On other side of kitchen I have a double switch, one controlled fan, the other the light. Not sure how to handle not having a neutral wire for the new fan. pic from ceiling attachedAny advice appreciated.

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    It'd really help to open up the old switch (the one that controlled light and fan) and get a picture of how it's hooked up. I think I know what the last guy did, but we'll need to see inside that switch box. And possibly the other one with just the light. What he did was BAD but we'll be able to fix it. – Harper Feb 21 at 3:52
  • Can you post photos that look into the back of all boxes involved? – ThreePhaseEel Feb 21 at 3:58
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    Complete the circuit to ground, mash wires until it works. At least he properly identified the the second switched hot. – Joe Fala Feb 21 at 4:00
  • Added new pics but it's dark and not of light in kitchen right now. May need to take pics in light. Any help appreciated. Thanks! – Brian M. Feb 21 at 5:27
  • I figured it out. Thanks. I disconnected the converted neutral wire from the double switch and added it back to the neutral bundle in the that box. I disconnected the hot jumper between the two switches on the double switch box and voila. – Brian M. Feb 22 at 2:09
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First order of business: fix the bootleg job

The original installer of the fan couldn't be arsed to put a /3 cable in, so they used the two insulated wires as hot and bootlegged neutral off of ground in the fan box. Your first order of business with this project is to untangle the work of said dimwit, and that's pretty simple, as you figured out already:

  • Take the fan-half of the switch out of service by disconnecting it and removing the pigtail that went there
  • Take the black tape off the white wire at the switch end and bundle it in with the rest of the neutrals in the box
  • And, take the black tape off the white wire at the fan end and move the fan's neutral from the ground bundle to it

If you're content with using the remote as a (loseable) pullchain, this is sufficient, with everything on a single 3-way switch as a result of this setup. If you want a better integrated system though, with wallbox controls and a remote that work together in harmony, then read on: there are two ways to skin this cat, each with different trade-offs. They also require your fan to be compatible with third party controls -- some cheaper fans use an integrated remote system that renders them incompatible with wallbox fan controllers, unfortunately.

If you don't mind "point and shoot"

If you like an integrated, fully-supported system, but don't mind "point and shoot" operation, then I would look at the Lutron Maestro IR MIR-LFQMT family of combination dimmer/fan controllers. These, as the name implies, use an IR remote control, similar in operating mechanism to a TV remote, to provide remote control functionality. As a result, you have to point the remote at the master wallbox control to use it, which may or may not be an issue, depending on room layout. However, in exchange for this, you get "out of the box" operation, with no configuration settings and minimal setup required.

In your case:

  • The master and accessory wallbox controllers can go at either position, replacing the existing fan switches -- common wire (hot or switched) to black, traveler wires to brass, and a ground pigtail to the green screw.
  • And the canopy module wires just like a normal fan remote receiver does

Once you turn the breaker back on, you will need to perform a brief setup procedure in order to establish communications between the master controller and the canopy module. From there, you can enjoy your fan!

If you want more flexibility

If "point and shoot" remote operation is an unacceptable constraint, it is possible to build out a system that provides both RF-remote and wallbox control, but it requires some configuration work, and is a bit more expensive than the Lutron package.

You'll need for this:

  • An Insteon FanLinc fan/light canopy module
  • Two Insteon KeypadLinc modules (6 or 8 button, your choice)
  • An Insteon remote control keypad
  • And fan button sets for each (if you wish)

The FanLinc gets wired up at the canopy, just like any other fan remote receiver module. The KeypadLink modules are both wired up as secondaries, with their line-hot terminal connected to the junction of the common (hot) and black traveler wires, the red traveler wire capped off at each end, their neutrals connected to the neutral bundles in each box, and their grounds tied into the ground bundles in each box. Finally, the remote control keypad needs no wiring, just a good charge before you go in and start setting up the Insteon system to provide your desired controls.

  • Thanks a ton for your time and advice. I really appreciate it. That Lutron Maestro device popped up on a search a couple times when I was first tryng to figure out this situation. I think I like the Insteon FanLinc idea better. I would like to be able to use google home to control the fan light and motor. Any model spec help would be appreciated. – Brian M. Feb 25 at 22:18
  • @BrianM. -- really, any of the KeypadLinc modules that support being used as a secondary work; the hand-held remote probably should be an eight-scene – ThreePhaseEel Feb 26 at 0:46

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