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Ceiling fans with dimmer lights typically come with a dimmer switch to control the lights. But can the same switch control the fan too? Let’s find out.
Can a ceiling fan be on a dimmer switch? A ceiling fan can be on a dimmer switch, but only if the dimmer switch is purpose-built for ceiling fans. Ideally, a ceiling fan controller should regulate the current in a circuit. But since regular dimmer switches control voltage instead, they are a mismatch with ceiling fans.
Why Can’t I Just Use a Regular Dimmer Switch?
If you use a regular dimmer switch on your ceiling fan, you run the risk of burning the fan’s motor and starting a fire. At the same time, a dimmer switch can make your ceiling fan run slowly or stop running altogether.
So, why does this happen? Well, the typical dimmer switches are meant for use with light bulbs. Therefore, they are built to control voltage in a circuit. However, the regulation of fans is dependent on changes in current, not voltage.
In other words, speeding up your ceiling fan by turning a regular dimmer switch to a high setting will increase the voltage getting to the motor instead of just the current.
Since the fan’s motor cannot handle the elevated voltage getting to it, it will heat up. As it heats up, the contacts in the ceiling fan may melt, and if the heat is very intense, a fire may ensue.
On the other hand, if the regular dimmer switch is on a low setting, your fan will make a buzzing, groaning, or humming noise while running at a low speed.
Also, the fan will run at speeds less than its actual capacity or the fan may stop rotating altogether. Typically, the fan may not stop moving at first. But as time goes on, it eventually will.
Can a Dimmer Control Fan Speed?
A dimmer can control fan speed, whether it is a regular dimmer switch or a dimmer switch for fans.
However, as we have explained above, using a regular dimmer switch to control the speed of your fan is a recipe for potentially dangerous electrical faults.
3 Dimmer Switches That Work With Modern Ceiling Fans
As emphasized already, if you intend to use a dimmer switch with your ceiling fan, you should only opt for one made for ceiling fans. Need some recommendations? We’ve got your back. Below we review 3 dimmer switches that work with modern ceiling fans.
TREATLIFE Smart Ceiling Fan Control and Dimmer Light Switch
- Note Before Buying: This fan and light switch combo needs 5 essential wires: neutral, fan load, light load, line, and ground wires for seamless replacement. Ensure your home wiring has 2 separate wires for the fan and light on the old switch, and includes a neutral wire (homes built before 1978 may lack this). No Hub or canopy module is needed, and it is FCC certified. For the fan switch only, search for ASIN: B08P5D3ZKW.
- Compatibility: This smart ceiling fan light switch is not compatible with fans equipped with built-in remote control/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi systems, DC motor fans, exhaust fans, or smart bulbs. Supports a maximum ceiling fan load of 1.5A with 4 fan speed controls, and a maximum light load of 150W for dimmable LED/CFL or 300W for incandescent bulbs. The smart switch operates exclusively on 2.4G Wi-Fi (not 5G) and is designed for single-pole (not 3-way) use. Not compatible with multiple dimmers on a circuit.
The TREATLIFE Smart Ceiling Fan Control and Dimmer Light Switch works for both ceiling fans and light bulbs. However, it should not be used for exhaust fans, fans with inbuilt controls, or smart bulbs.
This dimmer switch offers 4 speed controls and can handle a maximum amperage of up to 1.5 amps. So, it is best suited for 4-speed fans rated 1 amp or less.
Beyond its technical rating, the TREATLIFE Smart Ceiling Fan Control and Dimmer Light Switch stands out because of its smart functions.
For one, it supports voice control through virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. So, you get to regulate fan speed and the brightness of the bulb without moving an inch. This is perfect for when you get into a dark room and cannot find the switch to the lights or the fan.
You can also control the fan and the bulb from your smartphone if you have the Treatlife App on your phone. This makes control all the more flexible.
Apart from the above features, you can schedule the operation of the bulb and the fan. So, they can come on and go off at preset times set by you.
If your home’s wiring has a neutral wire, installation of this dimmer switch is pretty straightforward. However, if your wiring does not have a neutral wire, this dimmer switch is incompatible.
Overall, the TREATLIFE Smart Ceiling Fan Control and Dimmer Light Switch is worth it. But there are a few complaints about the inability to connect to a virtual assistant. Beyond that, there is no major complaint about the product.
Note that you cannot use this switch for a 3-way or 4-way switch. It should only be used as a single-pole switch.
Lutron Maestro LED+ Fan Control and Dimmer
- Provides the best dimming performance for LED bulbs (for list of approved LED bulbs, see “Compatibility Chart”)
- For use with ceiling fans with pull chains; not compatible with fans with remotes
Like the TREATLIFE Smart Ceiling Fan Control and Dimmer Light Switch, the Lutron Maestro LED+ Fan Control and Dimmer can handle a maximum amperage of 1.5 amps and has 4 speed controls. So, it will work just fine with a 4-speed fan that has an amperage of ≤ 1 amp.
The Lutron Maestro LED+ Fan Control and Dimmer does not have smart functions like the TREATLIFE Switch. However, it features a function that allows you to preset your own dimming range. It also comes with a programmable fade, which allows your eyes to adapt to the change in luminous intensity.
Relative to the TREATLIFE Switch, the Lutron Maestro LED+ Fan Control and Dimmer is even easier to install. It requires no neutral wire for installation.
So, it should be compatible with houses that have old wiring. In addition, the manufacturer provides an instruction video on how to install the switch. So, it is typically a breeze for DIY installers.
Like the TREATLIFE Switch, the Lutron Maestro LED+ Fan Control and Dimmer should only be used as a single-pole switch.
The Lutron Maestro LED+ Fan Control and Dimmer will certainly be a great addition to your electrical fittings. But it is not compatible with all types of fans. So, confirm its compatibility with yours before you buy it.
Lutron Electronics Co. SFSQ-F-WH Skylark Fan Control
- Eliminate need for pull chains
- Slide to off fan control
- Replaces decorator style switches and works with existing multi-gang wall plates
Unlike the other 2 dimmer switches we reviewed, the Lutron Electronics Co. SFSQ-F-WH Skylark Fan Control is purpose-built for only fans.
The Lutron Electronics Co. SFSQ-F-WH Skylark Fan Control can handle a maximum amperage of 1.5 amps like the other two products. So, 1-amp fans or fans with lower amperages will do just fine on this switch.
However, it only offers 3 speed controls, unlike the 4 speeds offered by the other 2 products. Since this is the case, it’s best to use the Lutron Electronics Co. SFSQ-F-WH Skylark Fan Control on 3-speed fans.
The Lutron Electronics Co. SFSQ-F-WH Skylark Fan Control uses a slide control. While it might seem that the slide just moves without limits, it actually has notches that limit the switch to 3 speed controls.
Like the TREATLIFE Switch and the Lutron Maestro, the Lutron Electronics Co. SFSQ-F-WH Skylark Fan Control is only suitable as a single-pole switch.
The Lutron Electronics Co. SFSQ-F-WH Skylark Fan Control is one of the few fan-only dimmer switches. It is easy to install, and overall, it is a quality product. However, there have been very few complaints of buzzing sounds.
A ceiling fan can only be on a dimmer switch if the switch was built purposely for fans.
Using regular dimmer switches – the type made for light bulbs – on a ceiling fan is a recipe for electrical faults.
Your fan may overheat and start a fire, it may not function optimally, or it may stop working.