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I have a ceiling fan/light in my bedroom that I want to replace with a standard light. The issue is that the ceiling fan and light can only be operated by remote. There is a single hardwired switch in the room, but it just controls the outlet by my bed.

I had this naive assumption that when the bedroom was originally wired, there would be some provision made for physical controlling the ceiling light, but as far as I can tell that's not the case. I'm wondering what my options are:

  1. Presumably I can pay an electrician to install a physical switch.
  2. Are there remote units I can install in the fixture so that I can turn a "normal" overhead light into one that operates with a remote switch?
  3. Would it make sense to install an "always on" fixture that doesn't have a switch at all, and then put a smart bulb in it that I can control via my phone?

Other ideas? Recommendations?

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  • While they are harder to find, there is the option of a light fixture with a pull chain switch to control the light.
    – mikes
    Feb 10 at 20:30
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    They are all viable options. We can't tell you what to choose. If you want a wall switch to control the ceiling light you can do that with a new regular switch or a remote one mounted on the wall or even a remote one mounted on the wall that looks like a real switch but isn't, and can be moved or programmed to do different things. A smart fixture with color and brightness choices is a good start.
    – jay613
    Feb 11 at 2:15

3 Answers 3

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The starting point is a requirement that most rooms are required to either have a light on all the time or a switch near the entrance that controls either an overhead light or a receptacle that you can use to plug in a lamp.

Builders are cheap. Therefore they have the switch control a receptacle that they already have to install anyway, saving the cost of installing an overhead light. The usual exceptions are kitchens and bathrooms. Bedrooms, living rooms, sometimes even dining rooms will just have a switched receptacle.

Most people I know, given a choice, prefer switched ceiling lights. But it is an open debate as to which is better. One of the very first things I had done in my house when moving in was to install ceiling lights in the bedrooms and change the switches to operate the ceiling lights and not the receptacles. But I have gone into plenty of houses and found that people have lived in their houses for decades without realizing they could get this done. And even worse, they'll have a computer or other "always on" devices plugged into the switched receptacle and a piece of tape or a note on the switch "never turn off". Crazy!

My hunch is your house came with the switched receptacle and somebody later added the ceiling fan/light. Since many ceiling fans now come with remotes, they just didn't worry about not being able to switch the fan/light totally off.

But you can change that.

The first step is to find out where the existing ceiling fixture gets power from. If it is on the same circuit as your switched receptacle then there is a chance the wiring actually passes through or next to the switch box. In that case the fix is easy - connect it to the switch and rewire the switched receptacle so that it provides full-time hot/neutral to the switch and the receptacle is always on.

But if that is not the case then the way to fix this is to run a new cable (might be able to move the existing cable, depending on how it was installed) from the ceiling fixture to the switch box and then rewire the switch and receptacle. The exact specifics will depend on the configuration of the ceiling fixture box, switch box and receptacle box (pictures please!) and of course a lot depends on how easy it is to run a new cable through the ceiling and wall.

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  • Thanks for this response. The truth is, I hate having a switched outlet -- it is useless to me to have a switch by the door for a lamp by my bed. I'm going to see how hard it is to change the configuration. Running new cable is definitely an option as well. Will report back. Feb 11 at 22:39
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    BOOM! Yes, the light was wired through the same box as the outlet. It took me just a few minutes with a voltage tester to get things rewired so I no longer have a switched outlet and instead have a switched ceiling light. THANK YOU. Feb 17 at 21:58
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If you google " remote controls for ceiling lights", you will find a few options. Most have the receiver made small enough to fit into a junction box.

None i looked at showed a UL certification, however I did not look through all of them, and shopping for others is forbidden here.

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    Plenty of UL ones like the Lutron remote switches.
    – cde
    Feb 11 at 4:10
  • OP stated there is no wall switch to the ceiling box.
    – RMDman
    Feb 11 at 14:09
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Rooms without a center ceiling light and associated switch are not required. In many areas that's the default. Some places have a switched outlet instead. But plenty have no switch. Typically much older places which we're retrofitted with electricity. The older the house the more common it is.

All 3 options work. The 4th option is to do 1 yourself. It's not that hard, if the joists run perpendicular to the door. You may only need a minimal number of drywall holes. Option 2 is unlikely, go with option 3.

The 5th option is to do 3 yourself as well. The ceiling fan/light should be mounted in a standard box, with an always on power. Cut power at the breaker or main house power (use a non-contact voltage detector to confirm power is off), and take out the fan. Replace with a standard screw in light fixture. Add wifi/bt bulb.

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