So I am replacing my bedroom ceiling fan. I messed up and forgot to take a picture of the wiring. I know I screwed up, but now it is a learning opportunity. I am sure that electrical standards vary place to place I am in the United States specifically Michigan. Below is all the information I have.

The Ceiling Box:

So I have two sets of wires coming into the ceiling box. I tested them with a voltage tester. I also tested them flipping the switches. That had no effect. Not sure if that is normal or not.

The Ceiling Box

One set has

  • White
  • Black - HOT
  • Ground

The other has

  • White
  • Black
  • Red
  • Copper

The Switches:

There are two separate light switches (they are not side-by-side as you'd expect, but are top and bottom and are about six inches or so apart. The top switch controls the fan and the bottom switch controls the lights.

The top has a set of wires coming into the switch box on the top and bottom:

Top of box:

  • White --- Hooked to White on bottom AND to top of switch
  • Black --- Hooked to bottom of switch.
  • Red --- Hooked to Black on bottom
  • Copper --- Hooked to Copper from bottom

Bottom of box:

  • White --- Hooked to White on top AND to top of switch
  • Black --- Hooked to Red from top
  • Copper --- Hooked to Copper from top

Top switch for fan

The bottom switch has a set of wires coming in from the top that are:

Top of box:

  • White --- Wired to bottom of switch
  • Black --- Wired to top of switch
  • Copper --- Just in the box

Bottom switch for light

The Fan:

The new fan has four wires and I know that the blue is the light:

  • White ---
  • Black ---
  • Blue ---
  • Green --- Copper Ground Wire

The question is what wires from the ceiling box are hooked to what wires on the ceiling fan?


2 Answers 2


The two core plus ground is the incoming feed to the light fixture. With a single load, typically a further two core would be used to carry the live out to the switch and back, by wire-nutting the two together (or using a spare terminal on the light fixture, and thw switched return and the white neutral would then go to the light. When regular two core is used for the run to the switch, the white should be sleeved black to indicate that it is also hot.

For this, the white in the three core is used to take the feed down to the two switches, and the red and black carry the two switched feeds back, these would then be connected to the live feeds into the fan (they're usually black and blue, and should have tags indicating which is which). The white in the two core feed in the ceiling again goes to the white of the fan. There's a length of two core that carries the live from the top switch down to the bottom one and back to where it is connected to the red.

For the switching to be on the live side, the black incoming will be connected to the white of the three core - which again should be sleeved (or wrapped in black tape).


I suggest marking your wires with colored tape to indicate their function.

  • Black=always-hot
  • Red=switched hot (fan)
  • Blue= switched-hot (lamp)

In your setup, the white wire in the /3 would get black markings on both ends. So would the white wire between the switches. The upper switch's red pigtail also needs a black marking; it is always-hot.

In the /3 cable, mark black on both ends as blue.

In the /2 cable between the switches, the black wire gets tagged with red tape on both ends.

Now, considering that the tape color overrides the wire color, you simply match up by color!

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