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I have a ceiling fan w/light that has a remote control. I want to remove the remote control receiver and just wire the fan straight through to two wall switches. I know how do do this, however I noted that the wiring coming out of the fan/light is only 18 gauge and probably a few feet long at most. The fan is on a 15 amp circuit.

Is this a concern? For example, if the fan motor somehow has an internal fault, could it potentially cause a fire by drawing up to 15 amps through the 18 gauge wire. Would the 18 gauge wire fail before the 15 amp circuit breaker?

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  • It depends on the failure mode and the type of circuit breaker. This might be two separate questions. Sep 14, 2023 at 23:27
  • A fan with just a CE label in the US will be a concern. If the fan has a UL/ETL/CSA label it is good. It has been tested to not burn up the house.
    – crip659
    Sep 14, 2023 at 23:28

2 Answers 2

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If it's UL/ETL (or other NRTL) listed you can do that, provided the manufacturer documents the wiring of the fan that way in the installation instructions. If you direct imported it from elsewhere even if you didn't know that was what you were doing, that may be a different matter, as it hasn't been tested for failing safely.

(grabbed the first part from Ecnerwal in case the comment goes away in the future - italicized part is my addition)

It is very common for lights and other electrical devices to have smaller wire than would be needed for the overall circuit ampacity. It is not usually a cause for concern. So long as wiring it this way is documented in the instructions for your fan, you should be good to go.

For an example: you can plug in a lamp with an 18-gauge cord to a 20-amp circuit and it's just fine.

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    If it's UL/ETL (or other NRTL) listed you can do that. If you direct imported it from elsewhere even if you didn't know that was what you were doing, that may be a different matter, as it hasn't been tested for failing safely.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 14, 2023 at 23:36
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    Unfortunately this type of connection is not documented by the manufacturer.
    – Star
    Sep 15, 2023 at 0:15
  • Just in case if people think regulatory testing is just people ripping you off... one of the major test for electrical devices is something called "Failing Open". When something goes wrong, the device needs to fail in such a way that breaks the connection, hence "Failing Open (Circuit)". Devices that do not pass regulation can fail close, which means that it creates a short and burns your house down, and possibly killing everyone. Do not ignore regulation. You will pay dearly for it.
    – Nelson
    Sep 15, 2023 at 1:26
  • If it's not documented by the manufacturer to use it that way, you can't do it safely. It's likely that the controller includes a portion of the circuit which is designed to act as a fuse, protecting the skinnier wire downstream. Also good addition @Ecnerwal.
    – KMJ
    Sep 15, 2023 at 3:07
  • What about simply adding an inline 10 amp fuse up in the wiring box for the fan? I would think that a 10 amp fuse would blow before any problems with the 18 gauge wire. Would that be an acceptable solution?
    – Star
    Sep 15, 2023 at 13:30
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The manufacturer should know how much power the appliance will draw, and should have sized its wires sufficiently large for that. The fact that the circuit it's being attached to could deliver more power (and often does, eg if it's powering other things in parallel) is usually irrelevant.

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