How To Separate Light And Fan Switches: A Detailed Guideline

by Mario Garcia
How To Separate Light And Fan Switches

Light and fans are important appliances in any home. Without them, you won’t be comfortable in your house. 

But then, how would you feel if both electrical appliances are controlled by the same switch. It means you have to use both even if you don’t want to. 

A great step would be to separate both appliances. Each should have its switch. With this, you’ll have more control, save energy and be comfortable in your home.  

Now the question is how to separate light and fan switches. Good news is such a project is something anyone can do. You don’t need to be an electrician. Just be careful not to get electrocuted. 

So, if you’re looking for tips on how to keep the fan and light switches separate, read this post from start to finish.  

How To Separate Light And Fan Switches During A New Installation

Sometimes you may want to install a new fan and light and connect them to different controls. In that case, you’ll have to start the process from scratch. To do this, you have to be sure of some things.

  • Make sure there are no obstacles in the room when you’re doing the installation.
  • Avoid noise so you can focus. Also, don’t let children into the installation site.
  • All the electrical connections must be in line with the local codes.
  • Go through the manual. You may get cautions or warnings that will be useful when doing your connections.
  • You’ll need to tap the wire nuts after making connections to make it safer and avoid unwinding.
  • Get the materials you’ll need ready before you start. They include a spot finder, drill, screwdriver, plier, non-contact voltage tester, and electric tape. A glove and rubber shoes will offer extra protection.

Step#1: Find the Right Spot for Hanging

Choosing the right installation spot is best for efficiency. Also, it’ll help you maintain safety. Most times, the room should already have a location for the fan. However, some things have to be considered before choosing installation site.

First, consider hanging the fan to be about 8 to 9 feet above the ground, as it’s best for proper airflow. You can use a longer rod if your ceiling is super high. Also, it should be about 8 to 10 inches below the top. Your walls and furniture need to be at least 18 inches away from your fan blades.

Avoid using any part of the ceiling that has cracks or any issue. If the spot already has problems, use a stud finder to get another location. Then drill a hole on the site you chose. After that, draw out a few inches of the cable from the spot.

Step#2: Switch off the power

Before you start wiring, remember to switch off power. The breaker is on your electrical panel. All you have to do is turn off the breaker that’s connected to the ceiling fan circuit.

Most breaker switches have labels. If yours doesn’t or is mislabeled, you can check for a black wire. There’s usually one in the fan’s electrical box. Make sure you also disconnect the power properly. You can use a non-contact voltage tester to check that.

Step#3: Identify various wires

You have to recognize each wire. The wiring is a simple one, but you have to connect the cables correctly. It’s important to do this to make the connect work. Also, it consists of four wires, usually black, blue, white, and green wires.

The black wire represents the fan power supply. While white is neutral, green is earth or ground, and blue represents light. You also have to be familiar with the wires in the ceiling box and not just the fan wires.

Furthermore, the ceiling box can have black, white, and copper ground wire. Because of the differing switch for light and fan, you have to find the red wire that’s usually in the ceiling box. It’s an essential wire to separate the light from the fan.

Step#4: Start the wiring process

Now you can start the wiring process. When wiring the two switches, bear in mind that they are connected through the power supply line. Now you can begin to connect various wires. But be very careful during the process.

First, use a plier to twist the neutral and ground wire. For lines going to and from the switch and fan, use a 12/2 cable (has hot, neutral, and ground wires). Be sure to label the wires as hot; you can do it with black tape. But, if it’s a 12/3 cable, it will have two hot wires (black and red), neutral and ground wires.

Use a single black (hot wire) to power both switches. You can do so by using a longer wire to jump them. You jump by stripping insulation from the tiny end of the wire. It’ll enable you to loop it around the hot terminal easily.

Furthermore, connect the exposed wire to the first hot terminal (first switch). Then insert the second switch from the stripped end. The wires labeled will be the hot returns.

For a 12/3 cable, connect the hot wire of the fan to the black wire on the switch. Also, join the hot wire on the light to the red wire of the control. It doesn’t matter if the hot wire colors are different. Then join all the white and copper wires together. Don’t forget to cover it with electric tape.

Step#5: Test the work

After you finish the wiring process, next step is to test it. To do so, turn the power on from the electrical panel. Now switch on the fan and light to ensure they’re working well and separately. If they’re not, confirm that the wires are making good contact.

How To Separate Light And Fan Switches From A Single Switch

Sometimes, you may have a single control that controls both light and fan. It’s such that when you turn the switch on, both electrical appliances would start working. In that case, you won’t need a fresh installation. Instead, you’ll need to replace the single switch with two separate controls for light and fan.

If the fan and light have only one cable connecting them to the switch, you may require the help of an electrician to separate the wires.

However, if the fan and light have separate cables that run to the single switch, it makes your work easier. So, you’ll need:

  • A screwdriver
  • Two switch plates
  • A pair of wire strippers
  • A voltage tester        
  • A pair of gloves
  • Rubber-soled shoes
  • Electric tape
  • Masking tape

Step#1: Turn off power

Switch off the breaker for the single switch. Then, use a voltage tester to test for power because you want to be sure. Next, remove the switch plate and touch the metal detector on various parts. If it turns on, then there’s still power in the switch. So, you’ll have to turn off the power properly.

Step#2: Take out the single switch 

To remove the switch, unscrew the switch from the wall. Then pull the parts within the switch box. You’ll see screws that attach wires to the control. Removing it will make it easier for you to take a picture of this to note the wire arrangement.

Step#3: Recognize the switch wires

Identify various switch wires. First, take note of the hot wire, which is usually red or black. It’s attached to the small metal part of the switch (at the side). You’ll also notice two neutral wires. One goes to the fan and the other to the light.

Furthermore, you’ll also see a ground wire that can be green, yellow, or copper (bare). Sometimes, you may not see a ground wire.

Step#4: Disconnect the wires from the single switch

Unscrew the wires to disconnect them from the single control. You’ll notice two wires that are joined together. They are the two separate wires for the fan and light. Carefully separate them and use masking tape to label them.

Step#5: Connect the wires to the new switches

Start the connection to the new switches. For the first switch, connect one of the cables to it. First, place the ground wire (if there’s any) into the green screw on the switch. Bend the wire and insert it into the screw head and then screw it.

Furthermore, place the neutral wire in the screw at the side of the switch without a metal part. However, if the neutral wires are secured with a wire nut in the old single one, do it with the new controls. Then push it to the back of the switch box.

Attach the hot wire (red or black) to the sides of the metal part. Then screw it into the screw head. After that, use electric tape to cover all the terminals. Now, insert the switch into the box. Follow the same process for the second switch.

Step#6: Test the switches

Finally, turn on the breaker to be sure the connections are correct. Test the switches to be sure of which are for the fan and light.

Now, you can control the fan and light separately.


You can install your fan and light separately. It’s also a breeze to separate a single switch, especially when two separate cables connect to it.

You can make the separation yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re a technical person or not. Just follow the guidelines in this post. By doing the task yourself, you’ll be able to save some money.   

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