Help, I have a newly installed ceiling fan that is controlled by a remote control and the wall has a dimmer switch. (We had a smaller ceiling fan in place and replaced it with a larger fan to fit the room better). The 3 light portion of the fan works with 2-60 watt bulbs for 5 minutes. Then light starts to turn on and off again. When we had 3-60 light bulbs in, the light didn't work. The limited wattage on the fan is combined 190. 3-60 watts shouldn't be over that. Can anyone suggest why we are having this problem. I didn't install it, I paid a guy to do it.

Is it because all 3 of our bedrooms are on one breaker and now with the bigger ceiling fan we have exceeded some sort of power limit on the breaker? Is it because of the dimmer switch? Should I try 3-40 watt bulbs instead? Help, would be appreciated.

  • Could you confirm: cfl or incandescent on those bulbs?
    – Bryce
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 5:26

3 Answers 3


If the breaker isn't tripping (all your bedrooms are not losing power, just the light on the fan), it's not the breaker being overloaded.

How is this wired? Is the "dimmer switch" controlling just the lights on the fan, or is it the older fan's speed control? Or perhaps if I ask "How do {or did, with the old fan} you turn on the lights alone, fan alone, or both?" - is there a wall switch or speed control for the fan, and a separate wall switch for the lights, or does one wall switch (dimmer?) turn on the fan/light and then you select if the lights are on by a pull-switch on the fan? You have a remote control now - that would probably affect the way things should be wired.

Why do I ask all this? The only way I can imagine that you're causing something to overload with 120 watts of light bulb is is if you've got the fan motor attached to the dimmer, which is almost certainly not right...either the "dimmer" is a fan speed control, probably sized for the previous fan motor (did it have lights?) or it's only supposed to be attached to the lights, if it is a dimmer.

A dimmer won't work right as a fan speed control, and a fan speed control won't work right as a dimmer, and if both the motor and lights are attached to either one, it would not work.


It sounds a lot like your ceiling fan has a thermal protection switch built into it, and the lights are heating up the unit until it reaches the maximum whereby the switch causes it to cut off the power.

Recessed lighting usually has a thermal protection switch, but I didn't think ceiling fans would have something like that. I do think many ceiling fans have a thermal protection switch for the motor, though. So is it possible that your lights are overheating the thermal protection switch inside of the motor assembly? Hmmm.

So one very easy thing you can do is to just swap out your incandescent bulbs for low wattage compact fluorescent bulbs if you can. See if it still goes out. You should realize, though, that CFL bulbs are not generally dimmable, so you should probably set your dimmer switch to maximum lighting when you do this experiment. Either that or go with dimmable LED bulbs instead.

It doesn't exactly explain why 3 x 60 watt bulbs don't work at all, though. That's a little weird. Maybe the fan's internal 190 watt limit is kicking in, because although the bulbs themselves may be at 60 watts, the internal circuitry might require extra wattage even while doing nothing.

So my guess right now is that it's overheating with 2 bulbs in it, whereas with 3 bulbs it's simply over wattage and won't turn on. Try the experiment with lower wattage bulbs and report back.


You mention a remote and a dimmer switch. Motors and remote controls don't work well with dimmer switches, especially dimmers intended to be used with incandescent lighting. A simple way to rule this out would be to 1) turn off the breaker, 2) disconnect the wires from the back of the dimmer, 3) connect those two wires together with a wire nut, and 4) turn the breaker back on.

If this solves your problem you can leave the now dead dimmer in place. You could also replace the dimmer switch with a standard switch, or a special momentary normally closed switch. This type of switch will briefly turn off the power when you press it. Most fans that have a remote respond to a momentary interruption in power as a toggle command for the light. This makes the light convenient to use from a wall switch without needing the remote. And since it's normally closed, you don't have the problem of a normal switch being accidentally turned off, rendering the remote inoperable, too.

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