Friend wants ceiling fan/light unit installed in existing fan-rated box, which only has one circuit. That is, there is 2-wire romex coming to box, and a switch leg going to a wall-mounted switch. Thus, available in the fan box is: neutral, hot, switched load (from the switch leg).

They would like to be able to control the light from the wall switch, and the fan using the remote. I believe this can be done with the following wiring scheme: enter image description here

Note this is exactly the way a fan remote is shown to be wired in the instructions, except (as shown with the 'X') I would not connect the "light" output of the remote-receiver to the fan, but rather connect it to the switched load signal.

Is this acceptable ? The only way I can imagine it causing problems is in case there is some kind of interaction between the light and fan circuits in the fan assembly; this seems pretty far-fetched.

  • This question is related: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/58797/…. I was surprised to learn that it's actually a violation to have the room light controlled only with a remote. My scheme here circumvents that. Apr 26 at 22:21
  • Which begs the question, what do people normally do when asked to install a fan/light in a box that's wired like this one, with only one circuit available ? In another room, I simply wired the remote receiver in the "normal" way, and removed the switch (attaching the holder for the remote to where the removed switch was). So the fan and light are both controlled from the remote (and only the remote). Apr 26 at 22:23
  • 2
    Looks like a legitimate and common way to wire fan/light remotes. Common because building codes require a normal light switch in a normal location that controls a light. You're not allowed to have the only light in a room on a handheld remote. Apr 26 at 23:26
  • 1
    Maybe not common. I doubt if that many people do it this way. The instructions for the fans pretty much always describe wiring it so that fan and light are both controlled by the remote. Apr 26 at 23:40
  • I hate the remotes. If it were my place, I'd just run a new piece of 3-wire from switch to fan box (in fact, I've done so at my place). Apr 26 at 23:41

1 Answer 1


This is fine, merely uncommon

While this isn't the conventional way to install a fan remote receiver, it's perfectly fine. From the receiver's point of view, this is no different than an application where the light kit wasn't ever present to begin with.

  • Sure, the receiver doesn't know any better (not to anthropomorphize). But what about the fan/light proper ? Maybe it expects some coordination between the two signals coming from the receiver, and will get confused if the "light" input is completely independent of what the "fan" input is doing. Kinda playing devil's advocate here - I think it's unlikely. Apr 27 at 5:05
  • 1
    Seems like these fan manufacturers are virtually instructing people to violate the code provision that @Harper cites. What I'm proposing SHOULD be common, but I don't think it is. Apr 27 at 5:06
  • 1
    @RustyShackleford -- a typical fan/light kit is dumb as a box of rocks -- the fan and light are completely electrically independent of each other Apr 27 at 11:44
  • In fact, most electrical equipment is dumber than you think and can be modified quite a lot. Wouldn't recommend modifying anything that has to be installed permanently and follow building code - but I've seen enough creative projects reusing parts from even things like laptops - just saying.
    – user253751
    Apr 27 at 16:25
  • 2
    We answer questions about it a lot, so the "independent light" is probably used in 1/3 of the fans we see. It's not required if the fan is the second light in the room. Internally the fan hot is not connected to the light hot, so it does not know or care who controls the light. Apr 27 at 22:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.