Moved into a new construction, I was recently trying to install a ceiling fan. There are 4 wires coming out of the ceiling outlet box,

  1. Black wire
  2. White wire
  3. Red wire
  4. Bare copper wire

Wired the ceiling fan as instructed, black from ceiling to black from receiver, however this doesn't work.

My assumption was that black wire from ceiling is hot. When I use a non contact voltage tester, there is no voltage detected at the black wire, there is voltage detected only at the red wire. Is this normal?

  • did you flip the wall switch?
    – jsotola
    Mar 19, 2021 at 1:04
  • @jsotola yes the wall switch is turned on and there is only one switch in the room. I checked another fixture in another room with a single switch and it seems to be the same result.
    – loslobos
    Mar 19, 2021 at 1:14
  • does the wall switch operate the red wire?
    – jsotola
    Mar 19, 2021 at 1:23
  • Can you post photos of the insides of both the fan and switch boxes please? Mar 19, 2021 at 1:28
  • @jsotola I have not opened the wall switch but I verified that if I turn on the wall switch, there is voltage detected at the red wire but not at the black wire using a non contact voltage tester.
    – loslobos
    Mar 19, 2021 at 1:31

1 Answer 1


In the US there is no standard specified if the red or black is the hot for a ceiling fixture fed from the switch location.

I usually do use black for a light ,and the red for a fan but I have reversed it this in the past. Both the red and black can be hot and or switched fixtures.

If the power was at the ceiling it is now common to take the black down as hot and the red is a switched hot but not all electricians do this because there is no code requirement to do it.

So if the red is hot with the switch on and not hot with the switch off cap the black and connect to the red,,, electrons don’t care what color the insulation in and the NEC has no requirement in this case for the red or black but black is more common so the mfg showed that.

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