I am in the middle of replacing a kitchen fan w/light to only be a light. The current wiring configuration of the switch is as follows. The switch face, has two sliders, one for the fan, another for the light. The picture shown here is the back of that switch.

Back side of switch and fan

Wall Wires (from old fan)

  • Black - to Fan

  • Black/White to Hot

  • White to Light

Fan Wires

  • Black

  • Blue

  • White

  • Green

Ceiling Wiring - 1 black, 1 white

Ceiling Wires

  • Black

  • White

My questions are which switch do I need and how do I wire it up? Single pole? It would be great if I could use a dimmer as well, but not necessary.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Can you get us a photo of the inside of the fan/light box? Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 18:19
  • Hi ThreePhaseEel - I appreciate you trying to help. I added the picture of the fan/light box. Let me know what other information you need.
    – AforEffort
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 23:45
  • Do you know how the fan was wired to the ceiling box when you took it down? Commented May 1, 2016 at 0:42
  • I dug the fan out of the trash to take a picture of the back of the fan. :) Strange to me it has three wires but only black and white wires on the ceiling - not counting the ground? Usually I would be more careful and take pictures along the way to make sure I can get back to the way it was but I didn't in this case..disappointed in myself for not doing that this time. I don't remember exactly how it was wired. The fan is about 30 years old..if that helps? Thank you again for your interest.
    – AforEffort
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 3:35
  • 1
    Did it ever work properly? That is, did one slider control the fan speed and the other slider control the light brightness? The cable to the ceiling box does not have enough wires to do this safely; if it ever seemed to work then it must have used the ground wire as a neutral. Commented May 1, 2016 at 5:13

1 Answer 1


I think ThreePhaseEel and A.I. Berveleri have figured this out. That circuit was originally wired for a light only, with a 12/2 cable going up there - hot (black), neutral (white) and ground.

Somebody added the fan later on, and they cheated. They used ground for neutral. They used black for the fan and white for the light.

First, mark your wires. Get some electrical tape and bundle together the white now going to TO LIGHT and the black going to TO FAN. These go to the fixture. Do that as far back as you can, so they are still free.

Note the black with white stripe wire. The wire nutted to it is supply power, or "always hot". Mark it (solo) with electrical tape so you can find it again.

Now, think about replacing that switch. Either with a plain switch, or with a modern dimmer or smart switch that plays well with LEDs and may have a neutral. Don't bother with CFLs, they are obsolete.

Now to put it back proper. The fixture white and black will be hot and neutral.

  • The white wire (to fixture): Add it into that bundle of (white) neutrals with the red wire-nut. It will stay there for good, no matter what switch you use.

  • The two remaining black wires go to the new switch. If you're keeping the old switch, move the black wire (to fixture) from to fan and move it to light.

I won't delve further into how to install switches because it's routine from here.

  • Harper - Thank you for your clear instructions. I did exactly what you wrote and it worked like a charm. Hit the switch and the light came on. I installed the dimmer too...why not? Thank you for taking the time to write in such detail. It seems someone already 1 upped you...I will be but I think I am to new a user for them to show.. Thank you again!
    – AforEffort
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 5:43
  • ThreePhaseEel - Thank you for asking the questions that made me update the question for others to make a clear answer - in this case Harper. Thank you to you too!
    – AforEffort
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 5:44
  • One follow up question, I have a few of these switches/fans in my house. Harper and ThreePhaseEel called the original configuration a cheat/hack. Should I be concerned with the wiring configuration? Is there any danger or is this an acceptable hack for electricians but not recommended?
    – AforEffort
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 5:49
  • Yeah it's bad. If the grounding path breaks in any of several locations, it will put 120VAC "hot" power on things that are supposed to be grounded, e.g. the screws that hold cover plates on, the chassis of your dishwasher, stove, bathroom vanity, dryer, who knows. If you have a fan/light combo that's wired that way, rewire like our answer and use one of several new smart-devices made for just that situation. They put a control module up in the fan/light cover. Commented May 2, 2016 at 7:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.