How to Wire a Three-Way Switch to Control a Ceiling Fan

Three-way switches are the perfect solution for flexible light control, but their benefit can be put to use in other applications as well, such as controlling a ceiling fan from two different locations.

This wiring scenario is a little more complicated than a single-pole installation, but by following simple directions, any do-it-yourselfer can wire a three-way switch to control a ceiling fan.

Turn off the power to the circuit prior to working on it.

Remove the existing light fixture. Test the wires with your voltage tester to ensure that the line is dead. You should see that even though it is a three-way circuit, the light fixture still gets connected to a hot and a neutral line. How the circuit was wired will determine which wires are which. For example, in some situations, a white wire may be carrying the voltage. If this is the case, it SHOULD have black tape on it, identifying it as a current-carrying line.

Assemble the ceiling fan as per the manufacturer's instructions, and hang it from a ceiling fan-rated box.

To wire the ceiling fan to the three-way switch circuit, simply connect the white fan wire to the neutral wire in the ceiling box, and connect the black and blue (if it has a light kit) wires to the hot line. Connect the ceiling fan's ground wire to the ground wire in the ceiling box. Wrap each connection with electrical tape and gently tuck the wires up into the ceiling box.

Finish installing the ceiling fan's canopy and turn the circuit back on. Your ceiling fan will now be controlled by the two three-way switches.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Voltage tester
  • Wire strippers
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire connectors

Warning

  • Never work on a live circuit. Turn the breaker off before working on any electrical job.

About the Author

Based in Atco, NJ, Dave Donovan has been a full-time writer for over five years. His articles are featured on hundreds of websites, and have landed him in two nationally published books "If I Had a Hammer: More Than 100 Easy Fixes and Weekend Projects" by Andrea Ridout and "How to Cheat at Home Repair" by Jeff Brendenberg.