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Question DetailsAsked on 6/11/2014

Why does my dual slide dimmer switch operate my ceiling fan in only one speed?

Lutron dual slide light/fan wall switch and a Hampton Bay ceiling fan

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2 Answers


The slide dimmer has no way of changing the preset speed chosen when the fan was hung. If it is a high ceiling most often the installer will choose high speed. Just as it can not reverse your fan, those functions are done with the internal wiring circuits of the fan chosen. For those functions you may be able to buy a remote control. There are only 4 wires to connect to on the fan - ground (bare), neutral (white), hot for light (black) and hot for fan (red). It really is called three wire but I included the ground for clarity.

I know of no fan makers that include two more for the different speeds and they would not work with a slide dimmer. In most cases setting the fan on high at the ceiling switch does the trick for most people.


Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon


Most normal fan switches I have seen with a slide have an on-off rocker or toggle switch on one side for the fan, and the slide side of the switch is for the lights. Sometimes the rocker switch is two-way - forward in one setting, of in middle, reverse direction in third setting, to accomodate winter and summer airflow directions.

Like Don said, most fans have only a couple of predetermined speed settings - commonly only one or two though I hve seen up to four in pricier ones, which are determined by the windings in the motor and cannot be changed. Using a dimmer switch on normal fans will either do nothing, or depending on type of switch, can cause the fan to run on low voltage and burn out the motor.

There are some fans with built-in diode controls, and some made to handle variable voltage that can be controlled by a variable diode switch. There are also some DC ones out there that use a transformer to DC, and can then run at a large range of continuously variable speeds - but which do you have to determine from the box or the installation/user instructions.

You may have to find the name plate on your fan or your invoice - and unfortunately nameplate is frequently on concealed top side of mounting base so it won't show in normal use - and google for company website and instructions on wiring to see if yours is continuously variable speed controllable, and how to wire and type of wall switch to use. If you know manufacturer but can't readily find model they might be able to give you model from blade diameter and a photo - or may on your invoice.

Google this search phrase for Hampton Bay instructions - Does Hampton Bay make variable speed ceiling fans

there are several places it says do NOT use a wall-mounted variable speed control - read through them and it may make sense for you. Sounds like even for the variable speed models, as Don said, the wall switch is on-off and the remote control is used to determine speed setting.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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