We had a fan in our living room that started smoking so we're replacing it. However, the wiring on the new fan is different from the old fan so I can't figure out how to wire it into the ceiling.

The old fan was connected to two switches, one switch on one wall and the other switch on the opposite wall. The old fan also had lights. However, the lights and the fan blades were controlled by a remote control separate from the light switches. The wall switches just gave power to the whole fan and then the remote control allowed us to turn on the lights, fan blades or both.

In the ceiling there is one large wire that contains a black wire, a white wire, a red wire, and a bare copper wire.

In the new fan there is a black wire, a white wire, and a green wire.

If it weren't for the red wire in the ceiling, I would just wire up everything to the same color (black to black, white to white, and green to bare copper).

However, I have no idea what to do with that extra red wire in the ceiling.

Any ideas?

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  • Are you sure the old fan worked as you describe? Do you have the canopy module for the old fan still, or was there one? Feb 10, 2016 at 0:49
  • Can you get us photos of the junction boxes involved? Apr 26, 2016 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


In some installations, there will be two switches for a fan - one for the fan and another for the light. The ceiling fan would have four wires (blue is common color for the 4th wire), and they are normally labeled Light, Fan, Common, and Ground. One wall switch will control the black wire, and the second switch will control red.

Your new fan either doesn't have lights, or the lights can't be controlled by a switch independently from the fan. The documentation should tell you what each wire is for, but your assumption should be correct - black to black (assuming your switch controls the black wire - check it), white to white, and green to ground. The red wire should simply be capped off by itself in the junction box.

  • Ok, yes, on my new fan the lights can't be controlled by a switch independently from the fan. The new fan has a separate remote control that allows me to control the lights and blades. So the two separate power switches on the wall only give full power and nothing else. I assume there are two switches in the room so that you can turn the fan on/off from either side of the room. Feb 9, 2016 at 18:44
  • I was talking about two switches in the same box for the light and the fan. If you have a switch on either side of the room (3-way switches) then that red wire could be a "traveler" for the switches. Is there just one red wire? Was it connected to anything before? For it to be a traveler, I would expect two red wires that are connected to each other in the box.
    – JPhi1618
    Feb 9, 2016 at 18:47
  • Yes, then I think the red wire is a traveler for the switches. There is just one red wire from the ceiling. In the old fan, there was a black,blue,white, and orange wire going from the fan to the junction box. Feb 9, 2016 at 19:56
  • So I may have bought the wrong kind of fan this time. However, I'm wondering if there is still a way to wire it up so it at least works OK from one of the two switches in the room. If it works from both switches, that would be even better. Feb 9, 2016 at 19:57

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