I'm looking at modifying an existing fan installation setup that is wired in the typical 1980s builder-grade way: The power enters and leaves at the ceiling box, and there is a 14/2 switch loop with no neutral to a wall box that switches the fixture at the ceiling box. This ceiling box has a fan where the lights and fan motor operate concurrently from the single switch.
It is wired like this:
- 14/2 from the panel, supplying constant power
- 14/2 to the next room, supplying constant power
- 14/2 to the switch, serving as an always-hot conductor and a switched-hot conductor. Switched-hot runs the lights and fan motor together.
I want to modify this to have independent control of the lights and fan so I can start to think about dimmers and timers. To do this I will need separate switch loops for the lights and fan, and my understanding of modern code is that the wall box should have a neutral in it (and my future timer might require it).
To do this, I'm thinking of repurposing the existing 14/2 to the wall box as a power source (getting me the neutral I need) and then running a new 14/3 between the ceiling box and the wall box to control the fan connections:
- [no change] 14/2 from the panel, supplying constant power
- [no change] 14/2 to the next room, supplying constant power
- [repurposed] 14/2 to the switch, supplying constant power
- [new] 14/3 between the ceiling box and wall box, providing two switched hots and a neutral for the fixture.
I know this circuit would be okay if all of the unswitched cables went through a separate junction box, and only the 14/3 went into the fan box. It starts getting muddy for me when everything is together in my single ceiling box.
- Is this an okay configuration from a code standpoint?
- Is this okay from a not-confusing-the-next-person standpoint? If not, how could I change my plan or wire markings to make it easier on them?
- I understand that the current in each cable needs to be balanced, and connecting the fan-neutral to the line-neutral in the ceiling box would mess that balance up. Does the same thing apply to the grounds (which I didn't draw)? My gut instinct is to tie every ground together in every box, but that will make a loop from ceiling -> 14/2 -> wall -> 14/3 -> ceiling. Is that an issue?
Location: NC USA