I have an existing ceiling fan in a hallway on a 3 way switch. When I turn on the switch both the fan and the lights will come on. Can the fan be rewired so the fan works off the pull chain and the lights work off the switch without having to run a new "hot" wire?

  • This will depend on the wiring of the fan and light itself. From experience, some brands are setup for this already (Hampton Bay) and some are not (many builder grades). A quick solution is to wire in a remote control designed for the unit that could be wired in appropriately. – BrownRedHawk Aug 11 '15 at 13:27
  • @BrownRedHawk, unfortunately your approach does no good if there is not already a constant hot available at the fan, which most likely there is not. (but there could be). If there was a hot there, then the OP would use the pull chain as stated. – noybman Sep 23 '17 at 6:10
  • Actually!!! I rescind that..... Goofy as it may be, if the OP disconnects the 3way switches and is able to feed hot from both switch area's "easily" he could have one switch wall plate covered, and feed always hot and neutral and then wire up remote(s) via the other switch plate area and use just the remotes. But this would be.... ugly. – noybman Sep 23 '17 at 6:16

The only way to know for sure, is to pull the fixture down and have a look at the wiring. If power comes from the panel to the fixture first, then this is trivial. If power goes to one of the switches first, then you're likely out of luck.

If you are lucky, and the power does go to the fixture first. Simply connect the black wire from the fan, directly to the ungrounded (hot) supply conductor. Leave the blue wire from the fan connected how it is.

As BrownRedHawk mentioned in a comment, installing a remote might suit your needs. Though you may want a remote at each switch location, which complicates the installation a bit.

  • Other than ease of use using a remote vs. a pull chain, the core issue is as you stated, is there an always hot available in the fixture. So +1. The fan remote switch is just icing on the top – noybman Sep 23 '17 at 6:12

Yes, you can but you need to run an extra wire if you don't already have one.

You basically want to connect an uninterrupted hot to the fan motor. Generally your fan will have 3+ wires + ground. 1 neutral, 1 ground, 1 fan hot, 1 light hot. Your fan hot will have to go to a hot (either interrupted with a switch or directly wired, but then you'll need to turn off the breaker if you ever want to turn the thing off (eg. if your pull chain switch breaks)).

Another alternative, if you don't want to run an extra wire and extra switch(es) is go with a remote control like the Insteon system.

  • 2
    The OP specified that the fixture is controlled by 3-way switches, so it's doubtful that there are separate ungrounded (hot) conductors for the light and fan. – Tester101 Aug 11 '15 at 17:43
  • Another accurate answer, because again.... the actual OP stated the question that answers the question :) is there a hot always available at the fan? – noybman Sep 23 '17 at 6:13

Note that the wall switch is switching the whole fixture, so if you change the wiring as you suggest you won't be able to run the fan without turning on the light rather than vice versa.

Most modern ceiling fans already have two pull-chains, one for light and one for fan speed (hi, med, lo, off). I take it yours doesn't. Might be easier to replace than modify; if it's that old a new one might save power too.

Modern ceiling fans are also set up with independent power wires for fan and light so they can be controlled by a remote or by two wall switches. If yours ismisxing the second pull chain I suspect you might have to modify it for that too... or replace it.


Its really simple if your power is run to the fixture, connect the hot wire to the black fan wire along with one of your switch wires. Now take the blue light wire and connect it to the other switch wire. Connect the 2 neutral (white) wires together and then connect the grounds together. The Fan will now always have power and will only operate using the chain and your light will work using your wall switch, meaning if you have your fan running you can turn your light off (wall switch) and it will not effect your fan. These directions are actually laid out for you in the installation instructions on most new ceiling fans. I hope this helps anyone who was wondering.

  • Just an FYI, everyone here has already touched on this in detail. If you look at this: electrical101.com/3way-switch-wiring-using-nm-cable.html (quick google for reference) everyone here is presuming (and likely so) that the fan is connected like the light in the first diagram. With diagrams #2 & #3, he has options. – noybman Sep 23 '17 at 6:22

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