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Thread: ceiling fan install question

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    DIY Member draven8795's Avatar
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    Default ceiling fan install question

    Ok, Im trying to install a ceiling fan w/ light in a bedroom. The hot wire comes to the ceiling electrical box from another ceiling light in a different room so the white wire is hot. Both the white from the switch in the current bedroom and the ceiling power are connected.

    Then both blacks were used to connect to each wire of the old light. Is there any way to make the current wiring work to hook up my ceiling fan with white/black/blue/ground or am i going to have to re-wire? I'm only using one switch at the wall to control the fixture.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If the white is always hot, regardless of the switch position, I think it is wired incorrectly in the first place.

    With only two wires, if you want to control the lamp separately, unless it has a switch on the fan itself, you need to rewire.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by draven8795 View Post
    The hot wire comes to the ceiling electrical box from another ceiling light in a different room so the white wire is hot.
    Do you mean a white wire is tied in with the hots?

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    DIY Member draven8795's Avatar
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    The white wire is hot now because of the connections made in the other room.

    Would I be able to connect the black and blue wires from the fan (hot for fan and light) to the white wires (now hot) and then connect the neutral on the fan to the two black wires in the connection (not hot) to complete the circuit?

    Power goes to fan and the switch is at the end of the run.

    I would control both the fan and light with the switch. The actual fixture has pull chains that would be used accordingly

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You are supposed to interrupt the hot wire to the fan, so no, you should not connect the always hot lead to the fan. The hot should run to the controlling switch, then come back to it (often on the white wire which should be marked with red to indicate switched). Now, as to whether it would work, a break anywhere in either the hot or neutral would prevent it from operating unless there's a short to ground, then instead of hot to neutral, hot to ground would provide the continuity. Ground is always a safety line, and should not be part of a current path. You don't need to have a wall switch to turn it off when it has switches on it, but if you do have one, it should be wired properly.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member draven8795's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    You are supposed to interrupt the hot wire to the fan, so no, you should not connect the always hot lead to the fan. The hot should run to the controlling switch, then come back to it (often on the white wire which should be marked with red to indicate switched). Now, as to whether it would work, a break anywhere in either the hot or neutral would prevent it from operating unless there's a short to ground, then instead of hot to neutral, hot to ground would provide the continuity. Ground is always a safety line, and should not be part of a current path. You don't need to have a wall switch to turn it off when it has switches on it, but if you do have one, it should be wired properly.
    Ok thanks for the help. I think I'm just going to rewire the entire series of lights and switches so it works properly and isn't such a garbled mess of wires.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Your description of what you have and what you want to do is somewhat convoluted and hard to interpret. If you want the one switch to control the fan AND the light, so that you use the pull chains to adjust either of them, then just connect the fan's blue and black wires to the wire coming from the switch. The white wire would connect to the neutral. Unless the power coming from the other room was from a switch, there is no reason why the white wire should be "hot".

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    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by draven8795 View Post
    Ok thanks for the help. I think I'm just going to rewire the entire series of lights and switches so it works properly and isn't such a garbled mess of wires.
    good idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    If you want the one switch to control the fan AND the light, so that you use the pull chains to adjust either of them, then just connect the fan's blue and black wires to the wire coming from the switch. The white wire would connect to the neutral. Unless the power coming from the other room was from a switch, there is no reason why the white wire should be "hot".
    just to clarify- the white wire from the fan.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    That doesn't clarify it. The white wire FROM the fan would be the neutral which would connect to the other neutrals. The only white wire which should be hot, would be the one FROM the switch, and then it would only be hot when the switch was turned on. I cannot think of any case where a white hot wire would be coming from a different area.

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    DIY Member draven8795's Avatar
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    Well as mentioned its kind of a mess.

    So what I would like to know now is. Is it possible to have one wire coming from the electrical panel power three switched lights in different rooms? If so could someone point me to a wiring diagram.

  11. #11
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Wiring is branched like that all the time, although functionally, it is maybe nicer to keep things in one room so you don't impact everyone when you need to turn things off.

    At some point, it will branch off to multiple locations. If someone crossed the hot and neutral, anything downstream from it would be messed up.

    Generically, Neutral is usually tied through in a daisy chain to all points needing a neutral (most switches do NOT need a neutral). But, the hot must go through the switch. So, if the power goes by the lamp in the ceiling, the hot must travel to the switch, so with a normal cable, you have the hot passing through the lamp box, down to the switch, and coming back on the other wire (white). That white wire will be hot when the switch is on, and when properly installed, should be marked with a red band of tape or marker to indicate it is a switched hot.

    If power starts at the box where the switch is, you will pass the neutral through, and interrupt the black wire with the switch, so since neutral stays neutral, the white lead stays white, but in this case, instead of the white being switch hot, the black is switched hot.

    Unless you throw in a 3-way or 4-way switch, that's about it. Variations on a theme.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member draven8795's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Wiring is branched like that all the time, although functionally, it is maybe nicer to keep things in one room so you don't impact everyone when you need to turn things off.

    At some point, it will branch off to multiple locations. If someone crossed the hot and neutral, anything downstream from it would be messed up.

    Generically, Neutral is usually tied through in a daisy chain to all points needing a neutral (most switches do NOT need a neutral). But, the hot must go through the switch. So, if the power goes by the lamp in the ceiling, the hot must travel to the switch, so with a normal cable, you have the hot passing through the lamp box, down to the switch, and coming back on the other wire (white). That white wire will be hot when the switch is on, and when properly installed, should be marked with a red band of tape or marker to indicate it is a switched hot.

    If power starts at the box where the switch is, you will pass the neutral through, and interrupt the black wire with the switch, so since neutral stays neutral, the white lead stays white, but in this case, instead of the white being switch hot, the black is switched hot.

    Unless you throw in a 3-way or 4-way switch, that's about it. Variations on a theme.

    Well from what you say the wiring isn't correct in the first place. At this point the white wire is hot coming from the middle light (where all connections are made at this time) to the light i'm currently working on. The white(hot wire) then goes to the switch and the neutral is then black.

    I'm not worried about affecting any thing as its all tied to the same breaker so if thats off everything is off same with the wiring now. Once all the fans are installed I wont be touching these items for a long time.

    Is there a place to source a wiring diagram for as mentioned earlier? on how to properly connect three switched lights.

  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    There are probably diagrams on-line, I've just never looked for them. There are a bunch of DIY'er books on wiring that give the general concepts. Unless for some weird reason you need to switch BOTH the hot and neutral, you always are supposed to switch the HOT lead. While you'll turn the thing off if you break either the hot or neutral (open-circuit), it isn't the safe way to do it. A typical wall switch is SPST (one set of contacts, on/off). To do anything else, you'd need a different switch.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  14. #14

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    Your description of what you have and what you want to do is somewhat convoluted and hard to interpret
    Understatement ^

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default description

    Your description is getting worse instead of better. If the hot wire went to one light, then the other, and THEN to the switch, those lights would be on all the time and the switch might not control anything.

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