I purchased a Hampton Bay remote for our bedroom fan this weekend. I have it installed and mostly working correctly, but there is one nuisance that still remains.

We have two switches on the wall, one for the light fixture on the fan, and one for the fan itself. There are 3 AC wires coming from the ceiling. One went to each of the wires in the fan prior to the remote install.

When I installed the remote, I attempted to wire all 3 blue wires together using one wire nut, when I did this the switch on the wall worked for the light, but the light button on the remote did not work. If I wire the blue wire from the remote control box to the fan, then the button on the remote works, but the light is then controlled from the switch which used to only control the fan -- it now works as a master switch.

Is there anyway I can wire it such that the switches on the wall each perform their distinct task, and that the button on the remote works? Or is it simply that when all three were in the nut, that the wire from the control box was not making contact (odd if this is the case as I tried to do that 3 times -- each with the same result).

  • The light and fan switch (on the wall) will have to be in the on position for the remote to control the fan/light. When the wall switches are off, there is no power going to the fixture (or at least there shouldn't be).
    – Tester101
    Jun 28 '11 at 20:42
  • I understand that. The switch that used to control the light is no longer functional, the switch which controlled the fan now controls the fan and the light. I'd like to be able to use the switch for the light as it existed. The question I was trying to convey was whether or not that was possible.
    – Scott
    Jun 28 '11 at 20:54
  • How many wires are on the Remote Controller (the one in the fan, not the one you hold in your hand)? Did it come with a schematic? How many buttons on the remote (the one you hold in your hand)?
    – Tester101
    Jun 28 '11 at 21:03
  • 1
    I'm guessing there are 4 wires on the controller Hot,Neutral,Fan,Light (maybe ground or a ground screw). If this is the case you will not be able to do what you want. The controller will get power when the wall switch is on, then pressing the buttons on the remote will send either power to the fan, the light, or both.
    – Tester101
    Jun 28 '11 at 21:07
  • There are 5 wires on the remote controller. 2 AC for the wall to the controller (one white, one black). There are 2 more which provide power to the fan (one white, and one black). The fifth is blue, and goes only from the controller to the light on the fan (there is no corresponding blue wire from the controller to connect to the AC power which is controlled by the switch).
    – Scott
    Jun 28 '11 at 21:24

I've installed a Harbor Breeze fan (Hampton Bay's bargain brand) and I can tell you first and foremost that the remote is designed to be used by a fan previously controlled by one switch. If you have the wiring for seperate light-fan controls, I would recommend finding a wall switch system that has a remote, which will allow you to control the fan both from the wall and with the remote. The Hampton Bay/Harbor Breeze remotes only work while the wall switch is turned on, thus supplying power to the remote receiver unit. There are other options, such as this Hampton Bay wall-mount remote control, which you can use to replace the wall switch (instead "hard-wiring" the fan to the house wiring and controlling it with the two wireless units; remote and wall).

Moving on to the actual problem; if you twisted any of the existing or new wires together, you did it wrong, and you could cause a fire or blow out the remote; turn the fan and light switches off right now and do not turn them back on until you have rectified the problem.

Now, do the following:

Common master switch (one wall switch controls both light and fan)

  1. Pick one switch at the wall to be your "master". When this switch is off, the light and fan will be off and will not respond to the remote.
  2. Look at the wire coming from each switch and going to the ceiling J-box. Most likely, one will be red and one will be black and they'll go into the same main insulating conduit (a 3-conductor electrical wire; the third will be a white "neutral" or "common" and there will be a fourth bare or green ground). If you see two black or two red, the electrician ran two seperate electrical lines to the J-box (unusual but not unheard of), and you'll need to figure out which is which by turning on one switch and using a non-contact voltage tester to determine the live wire at the ceiling. Be extremely careful dealing with uncovered live wires; you can kill yourself very easily.
  3. With the wire coming from your "master" switch identified, and with the circuit breaker OFF, pull the crown off the ceiling fan mount, pull out the remote receiver and disconnect it completely; we're going to start fresh. Place a wire nut and some electrical tape over the bare end of the "hot" wire from the switch that is NOT your master switch.
  4. Look at the remote receiver unit. If it's like the one I installed, one side will have a white neutral, black hot, and green ground wire (the receiver may not have a green wire; that's fine, there will be one or two from the fan that ground the whole unit, receiver and all). The opposite side of the unit will have a black or red wire, a blue wire, and a white wire. The first set of wires I mentioned is the "house side", and should ALL be connected to wires in the J-box. The second side is the "fan side", and should be connected to wires from the fan (except for the fan's ground, which should go directly to the J-box ground along with any others).
  5. Take the black or red wire from your J-box that you identified as coming from your "master" switch, and wire-nut it to the black wire on the "house side" of the receiver. Take the white wire from the J-box (there may be a couple twisted together) and wire-nut it to the white wire on the house side of the remote receiver. Take all the green wires (one will come from the fan, another from the mount, and maybe a third from the receiver) and wire-nut them to the bare copper or green wire from the J-box. (Again, there may be a couple twisted together)
  6. Identify the remaining wires coming from the fan; there should be a red or black one that is the fan's "hot" side, a blue one that is the light's "hot", and a white one which is the common neutral side. These should match the three wires from the "fan side" of the receiver; match blue to blue, white to white, and the remaining fan wire (red or black) to the remaining receiver wire (red or black). Securely wire-nut and tape all these connections, making sure there is no bare metal showing on any insulated wire except green. Turn on the breaker and the master switch. Being careful to keep any loose wires out of the way, try using the remote to control the fan. All controls should work.
  7. If the remote seems to do some things but not others, check your master switch. If it is a dimmer switch, make sure it is turned all the way up. If you still have a problem, replace that switch with a standard two-way switch. I found when installing my fan that the receiver needs the full 110 volts from the wall, and even if the dimmer is all the way up, the "zero" position on the dimmer's potentiometer can still have some resistance which lowers the voltage and causes unpredictable behavior.
  8. Once everything seems to be working properly (you can control all speeds of the fan, and turn on/off/dim the light from all fan settings), stuff all the wire back in the J-box and replace the crown, being careful not to pinch any wires. You're "done".

I put "done" in quotes because, depending on local building codes, it may not be legal to have a disconnected but live wire in your wall, even though the end is capped and still accessible. The wire you capped off may have to be disconnected at both ends, and if this is the case you should probably also disconnect the switch from the panel (most likely the switch will get power from a parallel connection to another switch in the wall box). You can then remove the switch completely from the switch box, or possibly use it for something else. OR, you can use it to control the light or fan, instead of using the remote for that purpose. You do this by wiring the capped-off end directly to either the red/black wire (fan motor) or the blue wire (light) coming from the fan. I highly recommend AGAINST trying to use both the remote and wall switch to control this part of the fan assembly, so when connecting the capped-off J-box wire, you should cap off the wire from the receiver that you are taking the fan wire from. It should still be fine to leave the neutral connected through the box; virtually all "on-off" manipulations in household electronics are done to the "hot" side.

  • 1
    Great answer. If Scott follows those directions, he should be styling in no time. Jun 29 '11 at 10:06

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