How Does Ceiling Fan Speed Control Work | Tips to Fix Speed Control


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Home ceiling fans have two main functions: lighting and air circulation. A basic light switch is all that is required to control the lighting element on a ceiling fan. On the other hand, fan control necessitates a more involved wiring scheme. Ceiling fans with fan controls can operate at different speeds and work independently of lighting. The type of technology used determines how a speed controller operates. Let’s learn how does ceiling fan speed control work.

How does Ceiling Fan Speed Control Work

How does Ceiling Fan Speed Control Work

For effective operation, complex wiring is required to adjust the ceiling fan speed. The speed controller permits the fan to rotate at various speeds, and its operation is significantly dependent on the technology applied. To operate it without problems, a professional should have the correct cabling.

If you do not have enough electricity, the fan will not turn on properly and will most likely overheat, leading to a fire.

Below you will find what you should ideally look for. There is a switch specially designed to control the fan speed.

Power line

Ceiling fan cabling is an integral part of speed control. It requires its wiring, distinct from the lighting element, to control the fan speed. If you install the ceiling fan without its correct connection, it may not work without turning on the light and vice versa. The wiring also dictates whether you use a wall switch, cable, or another device to control the fan speed. Consider employing a professional to adjust your ceiling fan if you have little knowledge.

Speed control

There are two main types of speed control for ceiling fans: wall control and onboard control. The device’s controls normally contain a selection of preset options, such as low, medium, high, and off. Each time you pull the rope or press a button on the device, it switches from one setting to another in a row. For example, you have to pull the lace three times to get from “low” to “off. “Ceiling fans can be operated at full speed, from off to full speed, using wall controls such as dials and dimmers.

The Use of Solid-state technology 

Whether your fan speed controller is a capacitor or a solid-state device determines how it works. To adjust the fan speed, solid-state drivers change the power level of the fan motor. 

For example, the speed control system will boost motor power if you go from a solid-state fan. In semiconductor controllers, fans with preset controls such as low, medium, and high are prevalent.


The capacitors control the flow of energy to the fan motor. The capacitor draws 100 percent of the energy supplied from the power source to the fan motor and measures how much of this energy is supplied to the motor. For example, if you set the wall switch to 33capacity, the capacitor will supply the appropriate amount of electricity to the motor.

This allows you to set the fan speed to any level from off to maximum. As a result, condensers appear in the fans with a full range of speed settings, from 0 percent power to 100 percent.

Wall switches

Many sources warn against using dimmer switches to control fan speed. Although you can technically connect the fan to work this way, the light switches work differently than the fan speed control.

Using the dimmer to control the fan speed can damage both the fan and the dimmer. Always get a wall switch built specifically for use with fans. Some switches are made of semiconductors, while others are made of capacitors.

How to Fix Speed Control on Ceiling Fans

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Turn off the fan power at the circuit breaker.


If the fan is equipped with a light set, remove the bulbs and shades. Separate the bottom, longer part of the bead chain connecting to the fan cover from the shorter top part connected to the speed control switch. A larger jumper connects both sections at the top of the circuit next to the switch.


Remove the small screws that secure the switch cover or the base of the lighting kit to the switch cover. Gently pull the cover to remove it from the case and expose the speed control and dimmer wiring.


Check all connections with a non-contact voltage tester to ensure the power is off. If the fan is equipped with a light set, disconnect it from the mains if possible. Put it aside. Alternatively, use a piece of wire or rope to hang the base of the lighting kit on one of the ceiling fans brackets so that you do not have to hold it when operating the switch.


Loosen the locknut securing the fan speed control switch to the switch housing. Use pliers if necessary. Unscrew the switch nut completely by hand. Slide the protruding end of the switch into the housing. Gently pull the switch out of the case far enough for easy handling.


Draw a diagram of the switch showing the colour of wires connected to each of the switch terminals, clearly identifying the terminal numbers or letters. Alternatively, take a close-up of the switch for reference.


Check the wiring to see how to open the circuit breaker. Remove the nuts and loosen the wires for switches that use wire nuts. Alternatively, for plug-in switches, release the wire ends by inserting a small pointed object, such as the end of a paper clip, through the terminal release holes. Remove the switch and take it with you to the store to get the proper replacement.


Follow the wiring schematic or reference photo to install a new circuit breaker. The replacement switch wire should have roughly 1/2 inch of insulation removed. 


Twist the bare wires together with the speed controller wires. Connect them with wire nuts. Connect the ends of the fan speed control wires to the new switch’s plug terminals.


Pass the end of the bead chain attached to the switch through the hole in the switch body. Hold the switch in place. Wrap the locknut around the chain and screw it onto the circuit breaker. Tighten the nut firmly by hand. If necessary, tighten the lock nut with pliers. Be careful not to damage the switch threads. Connect the lighting kit if you have previously disconnected it, and then carefully insert the light and cruise control wiring into the switch housing.


Install the switch housing cover or lighting kit based on the switch housing. Align the holes in the cover with the holes in the housing and install the screws. Tighten the screws.


Install bulbs and shades if the fan has a set of lights. Connect the fan link and the longer chain to the shorter length connected to the control switch.


Turn on the power and check that the fan is working properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does fan speed control work?

A regulator is designed to regulate the fan speed, which changes the voltage on the winding and thus regulates the speed. Reduce the voltage, reduce the fan speed. The controller, therefore, controls the fan voltage levels.

How does the three-speed fan switch work?

In a three-speed motor, the hot voltage is connected to the main winding at 3 different points. Only 1 point is always scored. This makes the fan switch. When voltage is applied to each point, the main winding is energized when the voltage from the black hot wire closes the circuit with the white neutral wire.

Can you set the ceiling fan speed?

Check the draft switch on the fan. An incorrect switch or speed setting will cause the fan to run slowly. Turn off the fan and let it stop. Pull the chain and turn the fan to the lowest setting, then pull the chain and proceed through the progressive speed setting while listening to the fan motor.

Why do ceiling fans run slower?

The reason for the slow rotation of the ceiling fan is almost always dirty or damaged ball bearings. In addition, the bearings are less rounded during grinding. Even at maximum speed, the fan blades move slowly or not at all with sufficient friction, and the motor may burn out.

Does reducing fan speed save energy?

Yes, you can save energy by reducing the fan speed because it consumes less energy depending on how much work the device does in a given time. At low speeds, it does less work and therefore consumes less energy and vice versa.


For maximum fan control, you can also purchase a manual remote control to change the fan speed and turn the lights on and off from the comfort of the bed. Some remote controls can also change the direction of the blade, making your life much easier.

This will cool your room by 7-10 degrees and save you on your air conditioning bill, so make an informed purchase to save money and add a decorative element to your room.

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