Can You Use a Dimmer Switch on a Ceiling Fan?

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Dimmer switches are traditionally used for dimming lights. But since they control the amount of current you're sending to an electrical device, they can also serve other functions, like controlling the speed of a ceiling fan. The simplest way to wire a dimmer switch so it can work with your fan is to replace the wall switch.

Safety

  • There's no reason to worry about electrical safety with a properly installed dimmer switch. Dimmer switches are designed to handle the same power draw as a normal switch, so a ceiling fan won't present any overloads.

Installation

  • Installing the new dimmer switch isn't complicated. The wiring is the same as for normal light switches, and their are numerous "how to" books and online resources that cover the job. But if you're uncertain about whether you want to do the job yourself, hire a qualified electrician. If you choose to do the job yourself, make sure to turn off the power at the circuit breaker panel before you begin to avoid the possibility of electric shock.

Operation

  • Depending on the design of the dimmer switch, you may rotate a knob or move a slider to vary the speed of the fan. One important note: many fans have a pull chain or switch that controls motor speeds. Three-speed fans are the norm. Experiment with the setting of the fan and the position of the dimmer switch to find what combination works best for you.

Advantages

  • A dimmer switch will give you much greater control over your ceiling fan's speeds. So whether you need a stiff breeze for cooling, or gentle air circulation for heating, consider adding a dimmer switch for your ceiling fan.

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References

  • "Wiring 1-2-3"; The Home Depot; 2005
  • "Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual: Completely Revised and Updated"; Editors of The Family Handyman; 2007
  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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