I will be installing a ceiling fan/light kit in our bedroom that did not have any sort of ceiling fixture before. Currently, the only light switch in the room is a two-way switch that controls the top half of a wall outlet (the jumper tab is broken off on the outlet).

My plan was to install a double-gang box in the wall where the current light switch is and run the new 14/2 cable through the attic to the new fan. When I took out the existing light switch i noticed this configuration, where the white wire is always hot and the black is switched hot:

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Then within the box is the following:

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I know it may be tough to make out but one set of nutted wire are two white wires coming out of the wall. The second set are three wires, the black and white coming from the switch and a red line wire coming from the wall.

My question is, if I want to add a second light switch for independent control of a new ceiling fan, how do I tie that into the current wiring configuration?

  • 1
    For starters, be sure to run 14/3, not 14/2.
    – isherwood
    May 25, 2016 at 19:05
  • Why 3-way? So the second switch can draw power from the first?
    – mjt117
    May 25, 2016 at 19:08
  • You said, "...run the new 14/2 cable through the attic to the new fan". You'll need two hot legs to independently control the light and the fan. Use 14/3.
    – isherwood
    May 25, 2016 at 19:09
  • And someone will be along shortly to diagram it for you. We have a couple good sketchers on board. Looks like there's everything you need in that switch box.
    – isherwood
    May 25, 2016 at 19:12
  • 1
    Even if you want both on one switch for now, a spare power wire, capped off, is cheap insurance against a change of mind or a new device in the future. The difference between 14/2 and 14/3 is pretty small on a single run.
    – bib
    May 25, 2016 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


You can't have one switch operate light OR fan. Many jurisdictions absolutely require that a switch on the wall near a room entrance, control a lamp. That is to benefit house guests and mainly from the government's perspective, first responders. There's an exception to allow a switched outlet instead, presuming a person is going to plug a floor lamp into that. There is no exception to allow a fan/light locally switched at the fan. (such things can exist, they can't be the only light). That said:

They now make gadgets to solve the "I have 14/2 and wish I had 14/3" problem. Each has a smart switch (typically 1-gang) with 2 controls, and a control module which sits under the fan shroud. The switch communicates with the module either via powerline networking or via wireless, and some of those are compatible with smartphones or integrated home-automation systems as are now emerging in the market.


Looking at the switch, the connected white wire is the hot wire.(They should have marked it black for identification). It taps to the "red" wire which goes to the "hot terminal" of the receptacle. And of course the black wire on the switch controls the "switched half" of the receptacle. On the NEW switch to the fan, connect a jumper wire from the white "hot" of the old switch to the bottom terminal of the new switch. And the 14/2 feeding the fan, the black wire on the top terminal is the switch leg to the fan. The remaining white wire to the fan is the neutral conductor and it taps to the neutral "return" inside the box.Hopes this helps.

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