I would like to use a dimmer/speed control with a window fan or a standing
floor fan. Is this safe?
I tried using a 3 speed control for a ceiling fan but the low and medium
settings on the speed control made the fan go faster, and the high setting
seemed to be the normal speed for the fan. Why does the fan go faster on the
Are there any speed controls made for portable fans? Also I'd prefer to have
a continuous control like a light dimmer instead of only 3 speeds, are
continuous controls made? I didn't see any at home depot.
If anyone makes one it would be- Lutron.com
Casablanca used to make a 6 speed motor with their own controler. I
have owned a couple and found them much better than the 3 speeds I'm
now living with.
I know that they don't sell these things as add-ons and I find it
strange. I suspect that fan users are being ignored in favor of AC
users, while dimming lights for romance is still "in".
I think I've seen one or two fans with *built-in* continuous speed
controllers.but a) they were the size or shape I wanted (probably box
fans and not table fans like I like) and b) if I bought one of those,
what would I do with all the fans I have that my mother gave me, left
me, and that I find at rummage sales or even in the junk. I wouldn't
throw them away.
I respect Joe, but I've been buying or making fan speed controls for
decades for my own personal use, at home and at work, and never had
Maybe I exercise *some* caution in that I never leave a fan alone
when it is set so low that it does not spin, or that it spins so
slowly that it doesn't move a little bit of air. Even when I'm
present and adjusting the speed, I only spend a couple seconds at such
speeds, becaause I know the motor will start to get hotter. And there
is no point to having a fan that is on but not spinning. If a fan
can't spin, it may overheat.
My favorite speed is usually the maximum speed that is still slow
enough that I can't hear the fan at all. This has always been enough
to blow a decent breeze.
Once I have established a speed that I like, the fans are able to run
several hours on end with no problem. If you want to be cautious,
feel the motor housing and see if it is hotter than normal. They
never are. In fact they are cooler than if the fan was running
Some fans I have are three-speed, and with one of those I notice that
I can use a high position on my speed controller with a low speed on
the fan itself, or vice versa. I think there is some difference in
the ease of adjusting, but either works.
I started with a lamp dimmer. Maybe they still sell this model. Mine
is Leviton model 16256, maybe, it's hard to tell because the date of
production is stamped over the model number. It was made in June of
1982. It's almost all brown. At one end of the cord it has a
table-top little box with a slide control. At the other end is a
plug with a receptacle right on top of it. The control plugs into the
wall and the fan plugs in on top of it. This worked well enough that
I bought a second one. I think they were 10 or 20 dollars
But it didn't work for all fans. Some fans would not spin at all,
even when the dimmer was set to maximum. (I unplugged those as soon as
I was sure it wasn't spinning.) For those I bought the fan speed
controller, a thing smaller than a standard small size spool of thread
with 2 wires coming out of it and shaft that rotates in it, that is
meant, I think, to replace a failed controller in a wall control for a
ceiling fan. I found a plastic box at a plastic store on Canal St.
and mounted it in that. Then I simulated the plug from the Leviton
dimmer by using a plug and a cord-mounted single receptacle. In
another case when I didn't have a single outlet receptacle, I used a
3-outlet receptacle, and I have to remember not to use the other two
outlets. (It's easy to remember in this application. If it weren't I
would plug the other two outlets, or wrap tape around them, or
I also have one that I made from a slide control light dimmer intended
to be mounted in a wall, in a box. I had a metal surface mount box
and I mounted it in that.
My fans range from 6 years old to 60 years old, maybe older. Some of
the old ones and some of the new ones work with the light dimmer, but
any that won't do work with the real fan speed controllers..
I;'ve also use one of the controllers to vary the speed of a smaller
than normal bench grinder I have, and I suspect it would work for any
power tool that didn't overload the dimmer. The one I mentioned
above is rated at 300 wattts max 120 vac.
Right now I have a fan on the file cabinet next to my desk, one on the
tv on the kitchen table, one on the tv in the basement workshop, and a
little one on the window sill above my bed, which is next to the
window. And I have one for my desk at work. (At work they have
windows that open in the spring and fall, and they have AC in the
summer, but although the temperature is adequate, sometimes it's much
more comfortble with a little breeze.)
They all have dimmers or speed controllers. They all run without my
attention. Although I suppose one should not leave the house with one
of them running, I woulden't be worried if I forgot.
My house has central AC but I rarely use it.
The fan above my bed, one can tell by the design, only 2 blades, all
metal, all black, flat base, very simple, was once riveted to a
machine so that it blew on the man who worked the machine, in a
factory somewhere. I bought it at a thrift shop for a dollar. It's
now on a dimmer so it doesn't make any noise, and I also took a
thermostat out of a 21" box fan, mounted it inside the plastic cap of
a large aerosol can, and I use it to turn the fan off completely if it
gets cold during the night. Both boxes sit on the shelve next to the
head end of my bed, (my home-built head board that holds a bolster
when I want to read in bed), so I can adjust them without sitting up.
Fans and AC are both great, but they both make noise. With a fan one
can get rid of the noise, and that makes them truly great.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
They do sell this at most hardware stores, iirc. I didn't want to
rely on these becasue iirc they are more expensive than lamp dimmers,
and the only premade boxes I could find were 4 inches high (x 2 x 2),
when 2 inches high would be plenty. The boxes are obtrusive, and look
sort of ridiculous. But otoh, you'll be the only one who has one,
except for me, and there is some pride to be taken in that. Or you
could hide the box, or find a better one. :)
These are hard to find too, and when I do see one it is often for
heavy duty cords. Sometimes I find suitable things in appliances
like vacuum cleaners that I'm stripping beforre throwing them away,
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
And you may never have a problem. I hope you don't.
I know lots of people who intentionally go out and get tans regularly.
However 35 years ago, after a stint as a letter carrier working in the sun,
I found out I had skin cancer and was given a 10% chance of living 5 years.
Now after about 20 operations I still have both legs and am doing well. I
still advice people to stay out of the sun although not many people will
have my experience some will or worse. Just because you have not
experienced problems does not mean your next project may not result in
failure or worse.
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