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  1. #1
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    Electricians - Wiring two more ceiling fans help

    I got one ceiling fan prewired when they built the house. It's connected to a wall switch. I want to add two more, but want to control it with the same wall switch.

    Can I connect two more fans on the same line?

    If I do, can I run all three on Hi? Or turn the ceiling fan lights on? All at the same time & the central air?

    Bottom line, I don't want to overload one line by hooking up more than one fan to a line.

    Electrical experts, please help. Will I have a problem?
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  2. #2
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    I think it would be too much of a load (amp draw) to run all 3 fans off of just one switch. You may be able to get a switch with a higher amp rating if you check at the hardware stores.

    I prefer to use remote controls for all of my fans, then you can just turn on the fans that you need. Of course having separate remotes for all the fans will cost more $$$$$.

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  3. #3
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    Without being able to see what you've got, it's kinda hard to say, but here's some info that may help you decide. Assuming the house is relatively new (10 years or so?):

    Most likely, the circuit that the current fan is on is 14ga Romex, which is good for 15amps total. If you pull the existing fan, and look at the wiring coming out of the ceiling, 14ga Romex usually has a white plastic sheathing, with either two or three colored wires, plus a bare copper ground. The sheathing should be labeled, if you can pull enough slack out to read it. Most likely, it's 14/2, which means one white, one black, and one ground. If it also has a red, that's 14/3 - sometimes the red is used for a light kit or other - or it may just be capped off for future use...

    You should be able to pull a wattage off the fan info sheet or labeling - it'll likely have three different wattages, one for each of the three speeds. If it only lists one, it'll be the highest draw (highest speed). Your voltage is 110~ and to calculate Amps, take your combined wattage / volts. I.e. if you have three devices (lightbulbs, say) @ 100watts each, that's 300w/110v=2.72A.

    So first add up the wattage of the fans. Do the calc and see what amperage they draw together. Then determine what else is on that same circuit (from the service panel). There may be other lights or something sharing that circuit that you'll have to take into account. A crude but easy way to do that is to power the circuit after removing the fan, and then touch the white and black wires together - they'll POP! and spark, but only for a millisecond, and then it'll trip the breaker - go see which circuit breaker tripped, then turn it off, then see what it's labeled as, and/or go see what else doesn't work. (That is unless you already know which circuit breaker the fan is on... )

    You'll need to add up the total draw on that circuit (wattage on lighbulbs and fans etc.), convert that to Amps (divide by 110v), and make sure the total falls under 15A.

    If that circuit is 12ga Romex, it's good for 20A, and it *may* be sheathed in yellow plastic, rather than white. Most likely, it's 14ga though. (Sidenote: the higher the gauge number, the lower the capacity. 12ga is bigger than 16ga...) Also, depending on local building practices, it may not be Romex at all - could be BX or MC (basically the same wires, but inside a twisted metal sheathing, instead of a flat plastic tube). Works the same way, just harder to identify at a glance...

    The fan switch should be rated also, probably in wattage, possibly in amperage, but you can convert back and forth as necessary. It needs to handle whatever load is downstream from it (the three fans). The lights and any other draw on that circuit don't really matter here - all the switch is concerned with is what it itself powers...

    That should get you started, but always be careful - don't go taking stuff apart with it energized, etc... Don't be afraid to call in a Pro if you start feeling unsure.
    Last edited by Junior; 08-13-2007 at 03:59 PM.

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  4. #4
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    Without doing a bunch of math or calculations, I'd probably only put one fan per switch. That way you know you're not gonna overload anything.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by moparman53 View Post
    Without doing a bunch of math or calculations, I'd probably only put one fan per switch. That way you know you're not gonna overload anything.
    Just the switch is not enough.
    As Junior was mentioning it is the total draw of what is on the circuit that matters.

    Also, it makes a difference if the switch is powered or the fixture is powered. That will decide where you'll be pulling your wire from if you are able to safely add to the current circuit.
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  6. #6
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    A 15A switch is 100% perfect for allowing 15A of energy to draw through.

    A proper, up-to-code house will have 15A switches hooked up to a 15A circuit breaker.

    If you are ever worried that a switch isn't strong enough to power the things its switching, get out of your house, its a fire hazzard.

    Reasoning is simple. If ALL the lights are off on the circuit, and there is a short circuit BEHIND the switch, it MUST, MUST, MUST be able to carry MORE than 15A, otherwise it WILL heat up, burn, and start your house on fire, before the circuit breaker or fuse can step in and "pop".

    Now, onto the Ceiling Fan debate:
    http://www.faninfo.com/compare_ceiling_fans_brands.html

    if you follow that guide, each fan would be approximately 115W, or about 1 or 2 AMPS at HIGH SPEED. if each fan has a 100W light bulb in it, thats about 3 AMPS for fan and light. if you use 3 of these fans and lights, all on togehter, you will be drawing about 9 AMPS for just the lights and fans. That is well within the limits of ANY home breakers that are available today (15A is the general minimum for a circuit).

    The concern is: If that room ALSO has the outlets on the same circuit breaker, it may be inconvienent to run things like vacuum cleaners. Most Vacuum's nowadays are pushing 10A. If you plug the vacuum in while the fans & lights are on high speed, you will pop the circuit breaker. No big deal, and it is 100% safe to do that according to electrical code... (the breaker is what they are there for in the first place)...

    I would go for it, and just remember to turn the fans off before you vacuum....
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  7. #7
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    ^^^ Yeah, good stuff above.

  8. #8
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    I say yes as long as the total amps used by all three does not exceed 15A.

    AND

    That the fans are in a parallel circuit as opposed to serial circuit. If you put them in a serial circuit the last on in the series will run really slow etc.

    Also, please make sure that the light switch can handle this current, most will not as they are light switches and may not handle the total amps of three fans. If it cant, you run the risk of overheating the switch, it will get very hot (fire risk?).

    Anyway, test it and see, but dont let it run without you being present just incase.

    Check with an electrician in your area!

    GOOD LUCK!

    EDIT! DANG!! lafrad gave some brilliant advice before me!
    Last edited by Matrix; 08-14-2007 at 05:16 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matrix View Post
    That the fans are in a parallel circuit as opposed to serial circuit. If you put them in a serial circuit the last on in the series will run really slow etc.
    What is "parallel circuit as opposed to serial circuit?"

    Thanks to everyone for their reply. The fans I'm looking at will hold two bulbs. I plan to use 15w bulbs since they are smaller. I may not even turn all the lights on the fan on at once and with the fan on HI. I was just thinking of the worst heaviest load situations.

    The worst demand will be one light on, three fans on HI, and central AC (13SER) running on hot days at 78 degrees. And a 30" tube TV. Total load will not be more than that in our house.

    House is 2 years old. I just didn't want to pay them $150 for pre-wire for each fan when selecting the options. Maybe I should have.....

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