I have a fan with lights in my ceiling. There is no wall switch, only a wireless remote. I'd like to avoid installing a wall switch if possible. I purchased a chandelier assuming that I could just install the chandelier and ignore the existing wiring for the fan, but am having problems.

The remote receiver that hooks into the box (Harbor Breeze Universal Ceiling Fan & Light Remote Control + Receiver) has 3 output wires, "Motor N", "Motor L", and "LIGHT". No matter how I tested the wires with a meter, I could not get a 120V reading that operated with the light switch on the wireless remote. I could get 100V, 110V, and 120V readings by clicking the fan button, which seemed to correlate with the Low, Medium, and High fan settings on the remote.

Am I able to install only a light with this wireless receiver? With the best of my knowledge, the only way I could get it to work would be to have to use the fan switch, which would require multiple clicks to turn it on and off. Do I need a different type of wireless receiver? I couldn't seem to find any other ones.

  • How much voltage do you get from the "LIGHT" wire?
    – Tester101
    Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 23:05
  • 1
    When you press the LIGHT button on the remote you should get +120V on the MOTOR(N) and LIGHT. Did the light button work before? Oh sometimes you might need an actual light on the LIGHT load.. just for safety reasons
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 12:49
  • @ppumkin The light and fan that were installed before both worked perfectly with the remote.
    – SomeGuy
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


The short answer is that it depends on the internal circuitry of the remote. I have a Harbor Breeze fan/light combo that came with a wireless remote, and I know that there are protective circuits inside the receiver that detect if there are non-incandescent bulbs in the system (e.g. CFLs/LEDs, which can cause power spikes, don't work with simple dimmer circuits, etc), or if the wiring is connected incorrectly. This protects against certain short-circuits and against overloading the wiring. From what I know, the basic design assumes you will either use it for a fan only, or a fan with light.

If this is the case, you can't use the remote to control just a light. The receiver will detect that the motor circuit is discontinuous and shut off to protect itself. However, the receiver may not be that "smart", so as long as the Motor Hot wire is capped off to avoid arcing, shorting and electrical fires, the circuit through the Light Hot and Motor/Common Neutral wires should still work. You just have to connect the receiver unit properly; the wires coming out of one side of the receiver should go to the J-box, matching white to white and red or black to red or black, and the wires in the other side should go to the light, again matching white to white and black or red to blue.

If this doesn't work, you're probably going to have to put the light on a wall dimmer. There are models of wall switch that are also receivers for remote controls. Lutron's "Maestro" system uses one wired wall switch, to which a number of wireless controls can be linked and communicate with it via RF. This allows for, for instance, 3-way switching where there used to be none, without having to fish wire. In your case, the Pico remote control works with a Maestro switch and allows similar functionality to what you want with the Harbor Breeze control; a remote you can take in hand and control the lights from anywhere in range of the wall switch. You can get this system at a Home Depot or online. Downside? It's toward the cutting edge of home lighting controls, and so is pretty high-end; the switch and remote control combo is about $80.

  • Great answer! I tried hooking it up as you said - white to white, black to blue, and capped off the black wire, and it is now working. I'm not sure why I didn't get a 110v reading on the multimeter the first time I tried it. I did not have the ground wire connected to the box the first time. Could that have affected the reading? Either way, it's working perfect now. Thanks for your detailed answer.
    – SomeGuy
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 2:55

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