I currently have two ceiling fans controlled by two switches. One switch operates the lights for both fans. The other switch operates the fans on both fans. I want to convert this set up to two lights operated by one switch.

The fans were wired up with four wires - Red for lights, Black for fans, white for neutral and ground.

The switch set up has me stumped! See photo below. A couple of things to mention: The switch on the left is for the lights and the switch on the right is for the fans. 4 sets of wires enter the switch junction box. All of the white wires are pig-tailed together. Some of the blacks are pig-tailed together and paired down to one black. The same black flows from the left switch into the right switch and then back out as black. What is going on here? How should I convert this setup to a single switch to turn on two sets of lights. Currently, the lights in the ceiling are wired black (light) to black (ceiling) and white (light) to red (ceiling)

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1 Answer 1


This is actually relatively easy.

Power comes in on black/white. White goes to the white bundle. Black goes to the light switch. An extra piece of black wire goes from the light switch to the fan switch. Red leaves the light switch as switched hot and black leaves the fan switch as switched hot, and in fact you can see that the red and black are part of one cable which goes to the existing fans/lights.

To set things up the way you want them:

  • Remove the short black wire between the two switches.
  • Cap the black wire from the fan switch with a wire nut and remove the switch.
  • In the ceiling, when you replace the fans/lights with lights, cap the black wires and use the red wires and white wires to connect to the hot (probably black) and neutral (white) wires on the light fixtures.

If you replace the light switch with a smart switch that needs neutral, add a short white wire from the switch to the bundle of neutrals. You may need a larger wire nut (or simply a new one just to hold properly).

And last, unless you want to leave the old switch in place to confuse people, get a new combination switch/blank plate like this Decora style:

Decora double plate

or this regular style:

Leviton double plate

Examples from Amazon for ease of getting images, but likely less expensive at a hardware store/home center/local supply house.

  • 2
    Use the screw terminals on the switch instead of the backstab (red wire) which can fail. Sep 5, 2022 at 2:59
  • 1
    You are my hero! That did it! Thank you so much. It makes some sense once you explained it. Although, I'm still confused by the bundle of neutrals in the switch box. What purpose does that serve? Sep 5, 2022 at 14:44
  • Basically, neutral needs to follow the same path as either hot or switched hot. So a typical (but not the only) configuration is that hot+neutral comes into a box and then splits to a few different locations, some switched (and the switch usually only needs the hot itself, not the neutral, unless it is a smart switch) and some unswitched (e.g., power feeding to the next room). So that neutral coming in might then travel along with 3 switched hots (to provide neutral to 3 different lights) and 1 hot (to provide neutral to receptacles farther along), so those 5 neutrals are connected together. Sep 5, 2022 at 14:47

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