First time ceiling fan installation wiring issue

by Mahi G   Last Updated May 15, 2019 16:21 PM - source

I am trying to install a ceiling fan in my bedroom for the first time. There is already a "Acceptable for Fan Support" box installed by the builder. I looked at several videos on youtube on how to wire fan. The wires coming from the ceiling confused me.

First, the color of wires. I see red, white and yellow. I was expecting black, white and green.

Second, red and white go back up as shown in the picture. How do I wire my fan?

Appreciate any help

Red and white cables going back

enter image description here

Answers 2

Black/white/green(or bare) is standard for cables. However, any color except white, green or bare is valid for a hot or switched hot wire when using individual wires in conduit.

Open up the switch box. (If there is no switch designated for this ceiling fixture location then this is a but more complicated). Post a picture of the box - that will help.

What I expect you will see is two conduits (like in the ceiling), one with some hot color (not white or green) & white and the other red, yellow & white. Incoming hot connected to switch and to red. Incoming white (neutral) just passing through. Yellow connected to switch.

If that's the case (and if it isn't, we should be able to figure out what is going on from a picture of the switch box), then your yellow is switched hot, red is hot just passing through and white is neutral passing through. You need neutral for the fan, so you:

  • Connect yellow to the hot connection on the fan (there may be two connections - one for fan and one for light - connect yellow to both of them).
  • Cut the neutral wire. Add a pigtail (unless the fan already has a neutral wire (instead of a screw)) and connect the two cut pieces plus the pigtail together and the pigtail goes to the neutral connection on the fan.
  • For ground, you are using conduit. Connect the ground wire to a grounding screw and screw that into the box. If the fan has a screw instead of a wire then you can get a screw with a pigtail attached or make your own with a piece of bare or green wire.
May 15, 2019 15:54 PM

This is conduit. Everything's different.

All the literature you have read on the Internet talks about cables in the walls installations. In that case, you are married to the standard wire colors in cables - Black Red White Bare.

Here, you have a network of piping called "conduit" and individual wires in the pipes. This is a highly competent job. The house was supplied with no fixture, but they left you enough length on the "neutral" to add one.

The wires are able to be any sensible color instead of being married to the colors built into cable. Here you have

  • White as neutral (neutrals must be white or gray).
  • Red is surely your "always-hot", probably because black is being used by a different circuit or half-circuit. There's too little length here to be able to reach it, so you can't use it directly. If you need always-hot here, then add a wire to that pipe from the switch, and grab it at the switch.

  • Yellow is your "switched-hot" from the switch to the lamp.

It's easy to add wires to a pipe.

Where did ground go?

This installation uses non-flexible metal conduit, and that is allowed to be your ground path. I have 4 buildings that look exactly like this; this is normal.

Switches and lamps can be grounded right through the mounting screws. Receptacles cannot; search for a question on "how to ground a receptacle in metal conduit" as it's complicated.

Simple installation

Cut the white wire at the halfway point. Splice it to the neutral from the fan/lamp.

Splice the yellow to the hot(s) from the fan/lamp.

Now the switch turns the fan/lamp on/off. Presumably speed control and lamp vs fan select is on the fan itself?

Complex installation

Open up the switch box. You will see a pipe leaving it with a red, yellow and white wire. Tug on the white wire and see if it moves in the ceiling box. That's the pipe!

Shoot us a picture of what's going on inside that box, and get back to us.

May 15, 2019 16:04 PM

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