How Does a Ceiling Fan Speed Control Work?

Ceiling fans are integral in our homes as they have several benefits including air circulation and home-lighting. A ceiling fan has a standard light switch used in controlling the lighting element. Not forgetting, the fan control needs a complex wiring system. The fan controls’ purpose is to give the fan room to function independently of lighting elements and at varying velocities. The type of technology applied has an impact on how the speed control works. As you keep scrolling through this article, you will be more enlightened on the following:

• Wall Switches
• Capacitors
• Solid-state technology
• Speed control
• Wiring

Wall Switches

It is inadvisable to use dimmer switches when controlling the velocity of a fan. Many sources are supporting these, among them the writer of the novel “Electrical Wiring Residential.” Based on the technical knowledge you have, it is possible to connect a fan to operate in this manner, unlike fan speed controls, light switches operate differently. The fan and the dimmer can damage the condition that you control the fan velocity using a dimmer switch. It is always advisable to buy a wall switch that is compatible with fans. These switches operate differently, either by use of capacitors or solid-state technology.


Wiring in a ceiling fan is crucial when it comes to its velocity control. For effective control of the fan’s velocity, the fan requires a wires system exclusive of the illuminating element. Poor installation of a ceiling fan due to improper wiring may result in a defect like a fan’s failure to operate without having the lights on and vice versa. Controlling the fan’s velocity from the string, wall switch or other mechanism connected to the unit is determined by the wiring. It is often advisable to request professional help in setting up your ceiling fan if you lack the required relevant skills.

Speed Controls

Ceiling fans have two major types of speed controls. These are the controls on the unit and wall controls. In general, controls on the device have a present number of settings, for instance, off, high, medium, and low. It shifts from setting to setting in the line whenever you pull a string or push a button on the unit. For instance, to shift from low to off, it is recommendable you pull the string thrice. You can control ceiling fans at a wide range of velocities because of wall controls like dimmer switches and circular toggles.


Capacitors are integral in regulating power the reaches the fan motor. It also absorbs the power flowing to the fan motor from the primary source and controls how much power can be received. Assume you have a wall switch set to a 33% voltage, the capacitor has to supply the motor with a sufficient amount of power. As a result, it is easier for you to configure the fan velocity between the maximum and off. This is why fans have a full range of velocity configurations ranging from zero to one hundred per cent power capacitors.

Solid-State Technology

The availability of solid-state control and capacitors are two significant factors that significantly impact the fan’s velocity control. The purpose of the solid-state controls is to regulate the fan’s motor amount of power, hence controlling its speed. Example, you should expect the velocity control mechanism to raise the motor’s power anytime you change from medium to high on a solid-state fan. Solid-state controls are associated with fans with checks with preprogrammed configurations like high, medium, and low.

How Does a Wall Speed Control for a Ceiling Fan Work?

Controller for fans is categorized into three types. Of the three, the wall switch is the dominant one and most straightforward to use. A remote controller is another type that is commonly used in the case when it is impossible to install a wall control. The classical and traditional design fans also feature a pull cord that looks suspended and hanging down.

Most of the fans feature a compatible wall switch and can fit into any standard switch plate. On most occasions, the entire plate is excluded, but only the three-speed mechanisms are supplied. The purpose of this is to give you the liberty of choice if you make up your mind to have some switch plate when integrating the ceiling fans, dimmers, and outgoing light switches, which is particularly useful.

This includes a single wall switch plate that gives the gives the wall-less cluttered and cleaner. When determining which alternative is most appropriate, it is highly recommendable to discuss and consult with a well-experienced electrician. The light’s operation is then also done through the remote when the remote control is connected to a ceiling fan with light. This implies that the light switching on and off the light depends on the remote control and not the wall’s switch.

When determining the most effective form of control, those are factors that need to be considered. It is often more costly to install a ceiling fan with a wall control than a remote-control ceiling fan. This is because it is found more expensive to purchase extra wires essential for the fan controller.

How Does Four Wire Ceiling Fan Speed Switch Work?

Before your four-wire ceiling fan speed switch works, it has to be wired correctly. This is one reason why it is highly recommended to seek help from a highly experienced electrician if you are not familiar with the correct wiring procedures. The wiring steps are mentioned below.

1. Connect the green/copper wires.
2. Take the white wires and connect them.
3. Connect black wires and allow them to be as one.
4. There is the lighting wire, ensuring you link the blue lighting wire to the black ceiling wire and black fan wire correctly.
5. Upon completing the fourth step, ensuring all the connections are made as required, tuck the wires into their respective positions in the box.
6. Switch the power back on to test the fan’s functionality.

How Do You Control the Speed of a Ceiling Fan?

One of the most effective ways of controlling a ceiling fan’s speed is by installing controls on ceiling fans. Remember, a ceiling fan is an excellent example of an electric motor that calls for correctly connected electronic components to alter with its speed. Besides being durable, these electronics have a fairly basic control undertaking operations.

As you pull the chain, small switch rotates in increments to control the fan’s velocity range. It is positive noting that the control sped of a fan switch is cost-effective and easy to replace in case of any faults. Below are steps on how to connect a fan-speed control switch:

  • At the circuit breaker, turn off the power.
  • In the case where the fan features a light kit, remove the light bulbs
  • Disconnect the small screws that hold the switch housing cover’s base or light kit to the switch’s housing. In case you intend to detach from your home, carefully break the connection, revealing the wiring for lights and velocity controls.
  • Use the non-contact voltage tester to confirm whether the power has been turned off before checking to wire. Unplug the light kit that is equipped to the fan and store it in a safer place.
  • There is a retaining nut that ensures the fan’s speed-control switch is intact to the switch housing. Ensure you loosen the retaining nut by use of a pair of pliers.
  • Put the switch down in drawing to help you know terminal numbers and the connection of switch terminals to each colour wire. Then keenly scrutinize the wiring to understand the appropriate way of switch disconnection.
  • Keenly following your wiring diagram, install the new switch. On both ends of the new switch’s wire, ensure you remove approximately ½ inch of insulation, use the speed-control wires to twist the bare wires together, and then use wire nuts to connect them.
  • Remove the end of the beaded chain connected to the switch through the switch housing’s hole. On the switch housing, install the light kit base or switch housing. Ensure the holes in the covers, housing, and screws are aligned. In the case where the fan has a light kit, install shades and light bulbs. Eventually, turn on the power and confirm whether the fan is working in the right way.

How the 3 Speed Ceiling Fan Capacitor Work?

A capacitor is integral in controlling the speed of the fan. Ensure your capacitor is in series connection with the switched live feed to the fan for power control. Also, note that the capacitor serves as a dropper.

The value of the circuit capacitor has a significant impact to play on determining speed. The speed control switch picks a separate capacitor to give different velocities.

A 3-speed ceiling fan features a 3-speed motor, hot voltages linking to the major winding at three alternating sections. Power is supplied in order; this implies that the second point will receive power after the first point has received power, and also the third point will receive power after the second point has been supplied with power.

This is the function of the fan switch. When each point is supplied with power, the key coil is energized as the Black Hot Wire voltage finishes the White Neutral Wire circuit.

How to Fix a Ceiling Fan that Only Works on One Speed?

If your ceiling fan only works at one speed, there are probabilities that your ceiling fan might be experiencing bearings and capacitor defects. Therefore, we will highlight some of the typical ceiling fan defects that result in the ceiling working at one speed.

Faulty capacitor- This is a common problem for aging ceiling fans. You do not need an expert to fix this defect. There are higher chances that the capacitor might not be working well. Therefore, have a look at the capacitor to confirm the wires are intact.

Another problem might be with the control box. There is a higher likelihood that the control box might be in a poor working state. The solution is to replace the control box.

Motor cap issues are another problem affecting the ceiling fan, and in case it arises, you can fix the problem by replacing the older motor cap with a new one.

The ceiling fan will speed at a high speed of the following factors arise:

  • Loss of lubrication
  • Old blades
  • Fault capacitor
  • Loose screws

The ceiling fan won’t change speed if:

  • The capacitor is faulty
  • Pull cord has defects
  • The bearings are damaged

How to Convert a Three-Speed Ceiling Fan to a Variable Speed Control

Follow the following procedure to change a three-speed fan to a variable speed control:

1. At the main circuit breaker box, shut off the power to your home.
2. Screws hold the fan switch cover plate; ensure you remove them.
3. Expose the connected wires by pulling the switch from the wall.
4. Carefully cut the wires’ ends and strip off its ends.
5. Connect the black wire from the fan to the black wire from the variable speed.
6. Insert a wire nut attached to the black incoming power wire over one of the switch’s blue wires. With a wire nut, tie the other blue switch wire to the blue wire coming from the fan.
7. With a wire switch, link the ends of the two green wires together. Then link the connected white wire ends to a wire nut.
8. Press in the wall with the cables. With the screws provided, screw the variable control switch into place.
9. Before restoration of power to the fan over the variable control switch, attach the cover plate.
10. To switch the fan at a high velocity, pull the fan chain, to give the variable speed control a wide range of velocity configurations.

A ceiling fan is one of the commonly used household appliances, especially in tropical countries like India. When purchasing a ceiling fan, ensure that along with it, you have a regulator. Regulators differ in types. Some of the things to consider when installing a ceiling fan speed include wiring, wall switches, capacitors, solid-state technology, and speed control. s