Can You Use A Dimmer Switch On A Ceiling Fan?

The pull-chain mechanism has been the ceiling fan’s most dominant design for years. Yet, what if you can use something different, like a dimmer switch? Can you use a dimmer switch on a ceiling fan? Read on to find out!

What’s a Dimmer Switch?

Around the 1960s, dimmer switches became all the rage in most households. Basically, they’re electric controllers that help you regulate the lighting in your home.

The main difference between them and regular electric switches is that they don’t just turn your lights on and off. Instead, they restrain the amount of electricity flowing through the light fixture, which allows you to control the brightness of the light fixtures.

This is useful for several reasons, such as making it easier to read at night without having to turn on all the lights in the room. It’s also convenient if you want to create a particular ambiance in your home by dimming the lights.

However, this begged the question of whether dimmer switches could be used to control something more than light, like ceiling fans!

Can You Use a Dimmer Switch on Your Ceiling Fan?

The short answer to your question is yes; you can certainly use a dimmer switch on your ceiling fan! However, there’s a slight issue that you need to be aware of.

Unfortunately, standard dimmer switches control the light by regulating the voltage, which isn’t sufficient for ceiling fans.

The standard device could send too much electricity to the fan, causing the motor to burn up, or not enough electricity, which can also cause severe damage.

So, you’ll need to look for a certain kind of dimmer switch that works as a fan speed controller. These switches are specifically designed not only to control the voltage but also to adjust the current to the fan’s motor.

This is important because even if you set the fan speed to “Low,” it needs a high current to kickstart. Then, it’ll decrease as the fan reaches the desired speed. Hence, a standard dimmer, which only controls the voltage, won’t do.

How to Tell if Your Dimmer Switch Can Control a Ceiling Fan

If you’re about to buy a new switch for your ceiling fan, you can easily ensure that it’s compatible with the fan while purchasing it.

However, if you already have one installed in your home or you’ve moved into a new place, chances are, it’s a standard lighter dimmer.

So, here’s what you need to do to check:

Be Safe

Before you start anything, ensure you’ve turned off the electricity from the switch’s panel. This is important because it can be dangerous—and even fatal—to work with electrical appliances while they’re still connected to power.

Scan the Dimmer’s Cover

Your next step is to take a look at your switch’s cover and search for the screws that hold it into place. What kind of screw head is it? Philips-head, binding-head, hex, or something else entirely?

Regardless, once you’ve identified the screws’ head type, you’ll need to bring the appropriate screwdriver and remove the cover.

Look for the Description

Lastly, search for the inscription inside the dimmer switch’s plate that describes its purpose. You can usually find it in the right corner in small print.

The description will say something like “for permanent incandescent fixtures only” or “fan speed control, ceiling fans only.

If you can’t find it, then it’s best to search for the dimmer’s model name. This way, you can check the manufacturer’s website to see if it states anything about what kind of fixtures can be used with it.

Can You Use a Dimmer Switch for a Ceiling Fan and Lights Simultaneously

Luckily for you, certain dimmer switches double as light dimmers and ceiling fan controllers. These nifty devices, also known as dual controllers, allow you to control the light’s brightness and the fan’s speed independently of each other.

However, when installing a dual control, you’ll need to connect each wire to the corresponding wire on the switch using wire nuts. And sometimes, some homes have ceiling fans and light fixtures wires connected to one switch.

In this case, you won’t be able to control each one individually, and it may require some advanced rewiring to enable you to do so.

This is a more complex task, so we recommend hiring an electrician to help you out.

The Benefits of Using Dimmer Switches for Ceiling Fans and Lights

Making the switch to dimmer switches can be a bit daunting. Most of us are used to turning on the lights by flicking the switch on and off or the fan by pulling the chain.

However, there are many benefits to using dimmer switches to control both! These benefits include the following:

Saves You Money

Dimmer switches offer you a sweet middle ground between the two options of On/Off.

You don’t have to use the lights at full brightness, and you won’t need to use the fan at its highest speed at all times. Hence, you can save a lot of cash on your electricity bill, which is a huge plus for everyone!

More Energy Efficient

Today, helping the planet means more than ever. Most people are recycling, some are switching to solar power, and more are looking at ways to be more energy efficient.

A dimmer switch is definitely one of the easiest ways to become more efficient!

How so, you might wonder? Because as we mentioned earlier, it allows you to control the power output of your appliances. So, you can save loads of energy which helps the environment!

Convenient to Use

The length of a ceiling fan’s pull chain is always a major source of complaints among homeowners. The main problem with it is that the chain is short and so high up that you have to stand on your tiptoes to reach it!

This mechanism isn’t only inconvenient but slightly dangerous if you’re not paying attention to where you’re aiming your hand!

And that’s where the dimmer switches come in handy! Instead of having to stand on your tiptoes and risk knocking everything over, you can simply walk up to the switch and control both the ceiling fan and your lights.

Easy to Install

In many cases your ceiling fan is connected to a standard on/off switch in your wall. This switch can be replaced quite easily by a fan control dimmer switch.

The wiring is already in place and can often be reused by the dimmer switch.

But as easy as it sounds working with electricity can be dangerous. So we highly recommend to hire an electrician to install your dimmer switch.

Tips for Choosing a Dimmer Switch for Your Fan

Before you go ahead and buy the switch, you need to keep two vital points in mind to make sure that it’s compatible:

  • The Amperage: As we mentioned earlier, a proper dimmer switch will help control the amperage of your fan. So, make sure to check how many amps your ceiling fans uses before buying the switch
  • The Fan’s Speed: Some fans have three speeds, while others have four. Either way, you’ll need to check which one you have so you can get a switch that fits your needs
  • Of course your electrician will also help you to find the best dimmer switch for your ceiling fan when you hire them for the installation work