I'm installing a ceiling fan into a room that has no existing ceiling mount (no light or ceiling fan previously existed). I've got a ceiling fan mount in place with a supporting brace that can support the weight of the fan. I will ground the ceiling fan box with the run back to the breaker box.

While I'd like to be able to operate the light on the fan, and the fan itself separately, it's not an end requirement.

In my switch outlet box, I have a 12-2 cable on a 15A breaker.

Here are the two configurations I thought were possible.

Single Switch Configuration

One switch would operate both the light and the fan.

My plan was to connect the 12-2 hot (black) to the top of the switch, then connect both 12-3 hots (red & black) to the bottom of the switch. I'd then directly connect the 12-2 neutral (white) with the 12-3 neutral (white) in a wire nut. Finally, I'd crimp the 12-2 ground with the 12-3 ground.

Double Switch Configuration

Two switches. One would operate light. Other would operate the fan.

My plan would be to twist the 12-2 hot (black) feed from the breaker box in a wire nut with two pieces of 12 gauge (black). One of these pieces would then feed into the top of the light switch while the other one of these pieces would feed into the fan switch. At the light switch, I would connect the 12-3 (red) hot. At the fan switch, I would connect the 12-3 (black) hot. Again, I'd twist the neutral (white) together in a wire nut, and I'd crimp the 12-2 ground with the 12-3 ground.


  1. Are none, one, or both of these configurations safe?
  2. Is there a better alternative that doesn't involve a new 12-3 run back to the breaker box.

Either is fine.

I'm a little concerned with what you mean for the the "crimp" grounds in both cases. So long as it's an approved connection method, fine (I finally gave up and bought the overpriced green wirenuts.)

Given that you want separate switching, and have the wire to support it, separate switching would be preferable.

You also need to be sure that the switch box is large enough.

1 ground (they only count once) 2 yokes (unless you use a 1-yoke double switch) at 2 each, 2 wires in, 3 wires out (clamp in box or exterior?)

1+2+2+2+3 = 10x 2.25 (12 Ga) = 22.5 cubic inches (or 24.75 with clamps in the box) for the two switches on 2 yokes configuration. Larger is fine.

| improve this answer | |
  • By crimp, I mean crimping together the grounds from both cables with something like a Buchanan – crush Dec 30 '13 at 19:10
  • @crush: I'm no expert, but I don't this that connector is up to code, even for grounds. I'm not aware of a provision that allows using such a connector instead of a wirenut or a press-in type connector just because it is the ground wire. But I'm sure one of the experts hanging around will pipe in. – ThePopMachine Dec 30 '13 at 21:05
  • @ThePopMachine That's interesting. I'm no expert either. I only have limited experience as an electrical helper that was allowed to do more than most electrical helpers get to do (under supervision of course). I know we used Buchanan crimp connectors in many applications in the field while wiring up offshore oil platforms. I also see something similar being used in this video. Could you expand on why you feel like they might not be up to code? These ground wires I'm dealing with are bare-copper grounds. – crush Dec 30 '13 at 21:18
  • @crush: Maybe it is okay -- I've just only ever seen and used wirenuts. I am an electrical engineer, and I did wire/rewire four rooms including two bathrooms and a kitchen in my house with no inspection problems, so I consider myself at the high end of amateur. I'm only basing my comment on my experience and that I don't ever remember running into those in the context of residential wiring, online or in any book. – ThePopMachine Dec 30 '13 at 21:35
  • 1
    As far as I can see, if crimped with the proper tool, these are perfectly legit, and evidently very common for EGC in some areas - just not common in MY limited experience - and I have some existing personal bias against crimps that will probably keep it that way - however, that is just what it is, and I've certainly seen wire nuts screwed up, so it's not like they are magically always better. In "not house" wiring, I will use crimps, but only if I also solder them. Hmm - might have to eat crow, actually - I do crimp RJ-45's and there's no way to solder those. – Ecnerwal Dec 30 '13 at 23:04

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.