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Ceiling fans are incredibly useful in the summer and winter. They can cool you down in the summer and warm you up in the winter.
Sometimes, you may have a red wire on your ceiling fan and you may be wondering whether or not you should ignore it or otherwise have it connected too. And wiring a ceiling fan that has a red wire can mean a bit more of a careful wiring job.
The good news is that installing a ceiling fan with a red wire is not very difficult at all; it just takes some extra time and effort to set up everything correctly.
To wire a ceiling fan that has a red wire, you may need to have two separate wall switches, one for the ceiling fan and the another for the ceiling fan lights. Connect the red wire from the ceiling fan unit to the blue/red wire from the ceiling wires and connect the green wires together, white wires together, and black fan wire to the black ceiling wire.
Before you start installing your ceiling it’s important to understand what each color of the wires means to correctly set things up. The commonest wire colors used for the ceiling fan wiring include black, blue, white, green, and bare copper wire(ground wire).
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Ceiling Fan Wire Colors and Functions
The black wire is the live wire that carries current to and from the electrical box. It’s sometimes known as the ‘hot’ wire.
The white wire: This is the neutral wire. Its primary function is to complete the electrical circuit. This wire does not touch the switch box, it goes straight to the electrical box.
Bare Copper or green wire: This is also known as the ground wire or earth wire. It keeps your fan from experiencing power surges or lightning.
Red wire: This is a ‘second’ live wire that is sometimes included in your ceiling fan unit. Sometimes it can come from the wiring of your ceiling. This live wire carries current to the light kit. Other times you might see a blue wire instead of red, they basically do the same job.
Safety Precautions Before Installing your Ceiling Fan
- The first thing you want to do before you start installing your fan is to ensure that you disconnect the power by turning off the circuit breakers to the outlet box and associated wall switches. This is to prevent short circuits or any possible shocks.
- Another safety precaution to consider before the installation is to find a safe location for your fan. Just make sure that where you plan to install your fan, the fan’s rotating blades will not come into contact with any object.
- Installation clearance: Ensure that there is a minimum clearance of 12 inches from the blade tip to the wall or nearest object.
- Ensure that the blades are mounted at a minimum height of 7 feet from the floor when the fan is installed.
- Be sure you understand electrical circuits before attempting repairs.
9 Steps To Install A Ceiling Fan That has a Red Wire
1. If you are replacing your old fan with a new one, start by removing bulbs and globes from the old fan.
2. Then unscrew or remove the fan blades from the old fan.
3. Check for crews on the fan canopy and unscrew the canopy to take it out.
4. You should be able to see the mounting bracket and the wiring. Disconnect the old fan wiring from the ceiling wiring then remove the mounting brackets.
5. In many cases you should see 3 wires from the ceiling, a white, black, and green/bare copper wire
6. But if you have four wires from the ceiling (which includes a blue or red wire) don’t worry! That means you might have separate switches, one for the fan and another for the light kit. That’s what we shall be looking at in detail shortly
7. Check the manual and prepare the tools provided in your fan’s package.
8. To start installing your new fan, begin by attaching the brackets onto the ceiling and let the fan hang from the J-hook as you do the wiring.
At this stage, you should now start wiring your ceiling fan. So how should you correctly wire a ceiling fan that has a red wire?
How to wire a ceiling fan with a red wire
- Start with pairing the green/bare wire to the green/bare wire from the ceiling wires. Then wire nut together neutral (white) wires sometimes called the ‘commons.’
- If you have a red wire coming from the ceiling, you’ll connect the red wire (from the light) to it and the black wire from the fan to the black wire of the ceiling.
- If there is a blue wire from the ceiling instead of the red, connect the red wire of the ceiling fan to this blue wire from the ceiling
- Ensure that you cap off all wires
More Ceiling Fan Wiring Diagrams
1. Wiring ceiling fan without a switch
If you are installing a new ceiling fan in a room where there is no switch for your ceiling fan, you can get electricity from any nearby source. Installing a ceiling fan in a room without a switch is not a problem these days as many ceiling fans are equipped with remote control.
But even if yours doesn’t come with a remote control, you can still be able to control your fan using the pull chains.
This is how to wire a ceiling fan without a switch
- Carefully strip off the insulator on wires from the ceiling box
- Pair the green wire from the fan with the green wire from the ceiling
- If your ceiling fan has lights, pair the blue wire from the lights with the black wire from the fan then cap them together with the black wire from the ceiling
2. Wiring ceiling fan with separate switches
If you have a light kit and a fan and you want to control them separately, you can achieve this by wiring them in the following order.
- Pair the black wire from the fan and the blue wire from the light then cap them together with the red wire from the ceiling.
- Connect the white wires together
- Connect the ground wires together (in green or bare copper)
- Push the wires back into the ceiling box and attach the motor to the ceiling fan bracket.
- Now put the canopy on the ceiling bracket and use a screwdriver to screw it.
In the switch box
After you are done wiring from above (ceiling), head over to the switch boxes to complete this job.
- Connect the white wire (the neutral wire) to the white wire coming from the electrical box. There is no need for the neutral wire to touch the switch box or anything in it.
- Split off the ground wire and connect one of the splits to the green/bare copper from the electrical box. Attach the other split to the ground of your switches.
- Also split off the black wire from the ceiling and have it connected to the second screw on each of the two switches.
- Connect the red wire to the light switch.
3. Wiring a remote-controlled ceiling fan
To wire a remote-controlled ceiling fan, you’ll need to correctly wire a remote-control system.
The remote-control system will typically have 5 wires and you are going to wire them according to how they are marked. It will have a red wire (fan going out), two black wires(one marked as light going out) and another marked as ‘live going in’, two neutral wires(whites)
Start wiring by connecting the wires from the remote-control system in the following easy steps:
- Pair the black wire (light out) from the remote system with the blue wire (light wire) from the ceiling fan unit.
- Connect the red wire from the remote-control system to the black fan wire.
- Wire nut one common from the remote device to the white(neutral) coming from the ceiling’s electrical box. Then, the other white(neutral) wire from the remote control device, have it connected to the white from the ceiling fan.
- Pair the black wire(light in) to the black wire coming from the ceiling. This is the black wire that should go to the light switch box.
- After you are done wiring your remote control system, head over to complete the wiring at the switch. At this point, you have already done 90% of your wiring job!
- You can use a regular switch. Strip off both black wires one from the electrical box and the other one from the ceiling fan.
- Attach each of these back wires to one of the two screws on the switch.
- Wire nut the common from the ceiling fan to the common from the electrical box.
- Pair up the ground wire with the one from the electrical box to ensure continuity.
- Then attach the copper wire to the ground on the switch.
That’s it, you are done wiring a remote-controlled ceiling fan with a switch on the wall.
Should You Ignore the Red Wire?
It depends on whether you have a light kit or not. If you don’t have a light kit (which is sometimes sold separately) then you can probably ignore the red wire but always ensure it’s kept capped to avoid causing any electrical problems if it touches any surfaces.
However, if you need the light kit then you should not ignore the red wire but wire it accordingly.
The red wire is provided so that the light and the ceiling fan can be controlled independently from separate switches
What is the Red Wire for if it’s not on new fan instructions?
The red wire is normally for the light kit. If your ceiling fan doesn’t come with the light kit or uses a remote control, you can ignore the red wire. But if it does come with the light kit, then you may need to wire the red so that your fan and the light will have a separate switch.
That said, most manufacturers assume that if they provide you with the remote control then there is no need to use a wall switch to control the ceiling fan. That is why you may not find anything about the red wire on the user manuals for ceiling fans with remote controls.
Does the Red Wire Cause/Reduce Buzzing When Turned On?
No, the red wire has nothing to do with the noise that may come from your ceiling fan. That is, it doesn’t cause or reduce any buzzing or humming noises..
However, your ceiling could produce undesired strange noise if it’s not properly wired. For example, if you connect your fan to the dimmer switch, not only will it produce strange noises, but it can also damage the unit if left unchecked.
Does The Red Wire have anything to do with not being able to turn on a light?
Yes, the red wire carries the current to power up the lights on the fan. If this wire is not wired or connected properly, this can prevent lights from turning on
Can You Connect the Red Wire to the Blue Wire?
Yes, you may have to connect the red wire from the ceiling to the blue wire from the ceiling fan’s lights. And typically, where there is this kind of connection, you will have two separate wall switches, one for the fan and the other for lights.
Is the Red Wire a Live Wire?
A red wire is a second live wire that runs from a switch to the ceiling fan’s lights. It carries current to the ceiling fans’ lights. So, yes it’s a live wire.
What To Do When You Have 4 Wires from the ceiling fan box and Only 3 Wires on the New Fan
If your new fan only has 3 wires while the Celine box has four, chances are your fan uses a remote control or has no light kit.
This is what you have to do:
- Connect the corresponding wires accordingly then
- Cap off the red wire because you will generally not need it for a remote-controlled fan
Hopefully, I answered all there is about the red wire in a ceiling fan installation. If you run across something when installing your fan that you are not sure about, please ask your question in the comments below.
HVAC tech with over 30 years of experience. Retired and doing repair work on the side around Madison County, AL.