I purchased a new ceiling fan with a remote and installed it. I had three wires coming out of the plastic box in the ceiling. Black, bare and red or white. The reason I am not sure if the wire is red or white is because of the following.

The wire is white but there is about ~6inches of tape on the end which is red. When I took the cover off of the switch it also had the same red tape there as well. So I am not sure if this is an actual neutral white wire or if it is a red wire where the guy ran out of red wire and just taped both ends of a white wire in red. The house was built in 1985.

I followed the instructions as if it was a white wire. I hooked up the black with the black, the green with the bare and the white to the white but I can not get the fan to turn on at all. I have tried pairing the remote multiple times and dip switches are not an issue with this remote and receiver.

The only thing I wonder now is if the white wire is actually a red wire. If so why might I not see a white wire? Does anyone have any ideas?

  • How was the old fixture wired? What is the white/red wire attached to in the switch box? How many wires are in the ceiling box?
    – Tester101
    May 7, 2015 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


It sounds like whoever installed it, used the neutral as a hot and the ground as a neutral. Likely they wanted to control the fan and light separately, but only had two conductor cable between the switch and fixture.

If you're installing a remote, you'll only need the two conductors.

Without seeing what you have, this is what you might have to do.

  • Disconnect the white wire from the switch, and connect it to the grounded (neutral) conductor in the switch box.
  • Connect the bare grounding conductors in the switch box togther, making sure to disconnect any bare grounding wires that are attached to white grounding conductors.
  • Follow the instructions to install the new fan and remote.
    • in the ceiling box, connect white to white, black to black, and ground to ground.

This will mean one switch does nothing, while the other provides power to the remote. So you can swap out the double switch for a single one if you want.


This answer is a guess based on past experience, and the limited information you've provided. If you provide more information, we'll be able to provide more accurate answers. If you're unsure about what's going on, don't be afraid to contact an Electrician.

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