How to Add a Remote to a Ceiling Fan in 8 Simple Steps

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated November 29, 2021
Warm tones bedroom with ceiling fan light fixture
New Africa – stock.adobe.com

Avoid the dreaded pull chain by learning how to add remote control functions to a ceiling fan

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Picture this: You run your ceiling fan at maximum power before you fall asleep, but then you wake up freezing in the middle of the night and have to drag yourself over to the wall switch to adjust the speed. We’ve all been there. Fortunately, there is a way to ditch the wall switch and the dangling pull chain for good. If you’ve already installed your ceiling fan, it’s fairly simple to add remote control functionality, even if it didn’t come with that feature.

Follow these eight steps and, before long, you’ll be manipulating your ceiling fan from bed, as nature intended. 

Difficulty: 3/5

Time: 45 minutes 

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver

  • Ladder

  • Remote receiver

  • Remote control

  • Wire nuts

  • Old screws

  • Batteries

  • Double-sided foam tape

  • Protective gloves

1. Prepare to Install

Before starting the installation, take a few minutes to perform precautionary measures to ensure the procedure goes off without a hitch. First, power the fan to its highest setting and then turn it off with the wall switch. Next, head to your circuit breaker and shut off any power going into that junction box. 

Finally, don protective work gloves, grab your sturdiest ladder, and ask another person to help steady it while you are working on the fan’s internal components. This procedure is not nearly as dangerous as, say, installing a ceiling fan, but it never hurts to exercise caution.

2. Remove the Canopy

Electrician on a ladder is fixing a ceiling fan
New Africa – stock.adobe.com

A ceiling fan’s canopy houses its electrical components, and it’s where the remote receiver will be placed. The canopy is the section of the fan directly above the blades and below the wall. Each fan is different, so consult the fan’s instructions for information on how to access the interior of the canopy. 

In most cases, you’ll use a screwdriver to remove the fan’s blades, set them aside, and then remove the canopy using the same screwdriver. Keep everything organized, including any removed screws, to help with the final reattachment process.

3. Plan Your Connections

Once the canopy’s exterior is gone, you’ll see various wires and a capacitor inside the fan. There should be white, black, and red wires. The remote receiver will interrupt the connection between the black and white wires and the capacitor. 

Your remote receiver should be color-coded, so you’ll know which wires connect to which port on the receiver. If the colors aren’t matching up, consult the instructions from the remote control receiver kit.

4. Connect and Affix the Receiver

Once you know where the wires should go, perform the necessary connections, using wire nuts to keep everything snug and secure. Find a spot for the remote receiver inside of the canopy’s interior. Basically, you want to place it somewhere that it won’t get in the way of any pre-existing electronics. 

Use double-sided foam tape to affix the receiver. Once it’s secure and you have successfully connected all of the wires to and from the receiver, it’s almost time to close up the canopy.

5. Check the DIP Switch

Before closing the canopy and rebuilding the fan, note which dual in-line package (DIP) switch is active on the remote receiver. These DIP switches are typically, though not always, located on the bottom of the remote near the battery. Look for a series of five switches. The DIP switch positions on the remote and receiver must match, so adjust the switches in the receiver to mirror the positions in the remote. 

Not all remote control receiver kits feature multiple DIP setting options, so check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn the details of your model.

6. Rebuild the Fan

Close up of a fan light fixture in a bedroom
New Africa – stock.adobe.com

Now that you’ve installed the receiver, it’s time to put the fan back together. To rebuild the fan, work in the opposite direction as when you exposed the canopy. Each fan is unique, so check the fan’s instructions for information on how to reattach the canopy. 

Once you have the canopy aligned with the ceiling, carefully hold it in place while you screw the various parts back in. If you had to remove the fan blades, reattach them using the same process. Feel free to take a few moments to admire your handiwork.

7. Power it Up and Begin Testing

Once the fan is rebuilt, flip the wall switch to the on position. Then, head down to the circuit breaker and flip the switch to allow power back into that section of your home. Insert batteries into the remote control and make sure the DIP switch matches the receiver’s position. 

Test the remote control by turning the ceiling fan on and off multiple times, ensuring that there isn’t any interference. If everything works as intended, the job is complete. Congratulations! If you are having issues, conduct some simple troubleshooting steps.

8. Troubleshooting, If Necessary

Troubleshooting steps vary depending on your specific fan and remote. Start by changing frequencies on the remote by adjusting the DIP switch settings on both the remote and the receiver. Next, make sure power is flowing to the ceiling fan via the wall switch and the circuit breaker. If none of those steps solve the problem, call a professional ceiling fan installer for help.

DIY Ceiling Fan Remote Installation vs. Hiring a Pro

Installing a ceiling fan remote is a pretty simple job, but it could require light electrical work. Not all fans and remote receivers will adhere to the steps listed above. Completing this job on your own saves on labor costs, as contractors can charge anywhere from $40 to $100 per hour. 

If you find yourself utterly confused, it likely means that your fan and receiver will not instantly integrate. If that’s the case, you’ll have to replace the capacitor and the switch, which necessitates hiring a local handyperson at about $60 to $125 per hour

Additionally, not all ceiling fans have enough room to accommodate the remote receiver. Most “ceiling-hugger” fans have enough space, but “down-rod” fans may not. If you are having issues with space or with integration, call in a pro.

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