I'm about to install a ceiling fan, and I will tap into the circuit that
feeds the wall outlets. OK so far? If I install a wall switch rather than
just rely on the pull chain, I will pick a fan switch with a speed
controller. Some fan controllers say they are for "2 wire installation" and
some say "3 wire installation"? I guess it means that a 3-wire installation
has black and white coming from the breaker box to the switch, with black,
white, and red between the switch and the fan. Right? Why are there two
Without seeing the fan, it's hard to tell what the manufacturer
means by 2 wire or 3 wire. The "2 wire" folks might just be
ignoring the ground wire and the "3 wire" isn't really a "3 wire"
but they *are* mentioning the ground wire. Or it could be a true
"3 wire" as described below. See what I mean?
OK< short and sweet: Inside the fan housing will be 1 neutral
wire (white) and at least 1 hot wire (likely black) for the fan
itself. If it has a built in light fixture, there will also be
a hot wire for the light (likely red). Some fans (cheapo
models?) may just tie those two (red and black) together and
assume you will only be supplying one hot feed (for both the
fan and the light. If you add your own light kit to the fan, you
will feed the 2nd hot wire up into the fan housing, and from there
you can tie it together with the one for the fan, *or* you can
control the fan and the light separately by running 14-3 W/G from
your (two) switches up to the ceiling box and fan housing. In
that case you use the black hot in the 14-3 W/G cable to feed the
fan, and use the red to feed the light (or v/v, the color doesn't
matter). It's a nice option, being able to flip 1 wall switch
if you need one and not the other. Oh yeah, you can use 12-3 W/G
too, if money and overkill are no object.
OK, so that wasn't so *short* <gt> Post back if anything not 100%
clear, and for God's sake: be careful!!! Turn off the breaker and
don't fry your butt.
On 22 Jul 2003, I-zheet M'drurz wrote:
*OOPS* mised the word "controllers" in your sentence below.
I thought you were talking about the *fans* themselves.
As far as these controllers go, the "3 wire" would take the place
of 2 switches, allowing separate control of fan and light.
The "2 wire" could be a simple replacement for 1 switch. That is,
it would dim the light as it slows the fan. Not very practical, huh?
More likely, it will use some type of multiplexing scheme (to move
2 control voltages over 1 wire) and it has an additional piece that
sits in the fan housing to "decode" the voltages.
There are "two kinds" because some folks might have 14-3 W/G already
in place between the switches and the ceiling box. They can buy the
3 wire variety. The multiplexing 2 wire is likely more expensive
than the 3 wire, but if your existing wiring is 14-2 W/G it saves
you from running new 14-3 W/G. That's your tradeoff.
HTH, sorry for the confusion.
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