I have a wiring configuration that appears to allow for a single switch piece that controls a ceiling fan AND 3-way switching of a ceiling fan light (there's another light switch on the other side of the room that seems to pair with the 3-way light switch).

What is currently hooked up in this spot is just a fan control (with a red and white wire), which controls the current lightless fan. However, there is another loose red wire in the box that goes hot with the light switch across the room, so I'm thinking I can replace the fan with one that does have a light that I can control from both locations.

My primary questions are:

  1. Does it seem like I have correctly deduced that I can add a fan with a light in this way?
  2. Is there a slider/switch combo I can purchase that both controls the fan and acts as a 3-way light control? I'm having trouble finding one, but might not be searching correctly

Bonus question: the fan is on a very high lofted ceiling - and some have said having a light there would get annoying when bulbs need to be changed (pretty much would need to rent a 12-ft ladder), however I think the extra lighting is worth it and bulbs these days last a long time… any thoughts or experiences? :-D


UPDATE: adding photos of the two boxes. The larger box includes the current fan control hooked up on the very left, and the smaller box is the one wired for 3-way. The middle switch in the large box is a single-pole for a hall light and the one on the right is a 3-way switch paired with a different switch for another hall light. The two wires hooked up to the fan control (one red and one white) are both hot (per my contactless voltage tester): the white wire is coming from the cable on the far left (along with the loose red wire that goes hot when i flip the paired 3-way switch across the room, a ground wire, and a black wire that's joined with the other black wires in the box); the red wire is coming from the second cable from the left in the box, along with a ground wire and white and black wires that are joined with their other like-colored wires in the box.

UPDATE2: adding a photo with more detail of the larger box and the wires labeled - source cables are colored in yellow and the corresponding individual wire terminuses in green.

UPDATE3: adding a chart of which wires are hot in the 3-way switch box and the larger box (just those on the left side: the red and white hooked up to the fan control and the other loose red wire), based on configuration of the 3-way switch I have installed (whether the red or the white wire is wired on the same side of the switch as the black common wire, and which position the switch is in). Checkmark=hot. Maybe this isn't supposed to be a 3-way switch?

larger box3-way switch boxlarge box labeled3-way switch chart

  • 2
    Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes involved? Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 15:28
  • 1
    Definitely need pics of the boxes. Also, for changing bulbs, they make grabbers on a stick that you can use to easily replace bulbs on a 12' + ceiling. It may be a little more challenging if they're in a ceiling fan (depending on bulb arrangement). However, LED bulbs will usually last long enough to not have to worry about them. If you do have one go out, replace them all while you're at it, just in case and to remove the hassle of having to do another in a couple of weeks.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 16:58
  • Yeah, we need more information about the cable arrangement, and photos will probably cover it. Commented Nov 1, 2020 at 1:06
  • Thank you @ThreePhaseEel et al for your responses! Just updated post with pictures
    – aknodt
    Commented Nov 1, 2020 at 16:14
  • Thanks @FreeMan, I was thinking was definitely some kind of grabber solution, awesome. Updated post with pics but let me know if it's still not clear!
    – aknodt
    Commented Nov 1, 2020 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


You'll need to use the correct fan/light control and remote for this

The problem with your proposal is twofold. First off, most fan/light combination controls are single-pole only units, with no support for multi-way switching whatsoever. Furthermore, and worse yet, most fan/light combination controls require separate switched-hot wires for the fan and the light, which is something you don't have here.

Fortunately, Lutron still makes a fan/light combination control setup that works for your application, namely the MA-LFQM control/canopy module pair and MA-ALFQ35 remote. You can put either control at either location, with the black wire landing on the black screw and the white and red wires landing on the brass screws at the small box, and the white and red wires from Cable 1 landing on the brass screws and the red wire from cable 2 landing on the black screw at the large box. Of course, you'll have to connect the grounds at both locations as well; once you're done with that, you'll need to install the canopy module from the MA-LFQM kit as part of putting the fan up (it's not much different from any other fan remote receiver you'll run into).

  • wow, thanks so much for explaining this!!!
    – aknodt
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 14:03

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