How To Wire 3 Speed Fan Switch

How To Wire 3 Speed Fan Switch

Anthony Barnes

Need to Hire a Plumber?
Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

When it comes to ceiling fans, a 3 speed fan switch is a core component that is needed for this to work properly.

It’s great being able to have a ceiling fan that works at three different speeds so you can adjust it to help cool the room down more quickly, but unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. 

You may find yourself needing to replace the 3 speed fan switch on your ceiling fan at some point, but this process is not easy at all.

In fact, wiring your new 3 speed fan switch is said to be the most tricky part of replacing it and setting it up in the first place – so how do you wire a 3 speed fan switch, and how can you do it safely?

If you are looking for an easy way to wire 3 speed fan switches then we have got you covered with our step by step guide below!

So, keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about 3 speed fan switches and how to wire them up! 

What Is A 3 Speed Fan Switch?

A 3 speed fan is basically a device that is attached to the ceiling of a room and allows you to control the temperature of a room.

It’s used to regulate the flow of air and by disturbing it, can create a cool breeze that can lower the temperature of a room. 

It’s a great form of air conditioning that does not ruin the air quality of your room, plus it’s super affordable to run and is fairly sustainable.

While it may not be as effective as other forms of air conditioning, it’s well suited for homes in medium climates that alternate between warm summer and cool winters. 

3 speed fans are very popular as they offer up three different fan speeds: low, medium, and high.

Each one is unique and helps regulate the temperature of the room more closely.

For example, if it is only mildly warm, then turning your 3 speed fan onto a low fan speed can help keep the room slightly cool.

On the other hand, if it’s a very hot day, you can amp up the speed of your ceiling fan to high so it works harder to keep the room cool and comfortable for its occupants.

The 3 speed fan switch is made up of two parts: the main body that contains the fan motor and the electrical connections.

The electrical connection consists of wires that connect the lever to the fan switch, allowing it to move between speeds and eventually turn off with just a few tugs.

There are actually four different wires in a 3 speed fan switch and each one needs to be correctly wired for your 3 speed fan to correctly work. 

So, let’s take a closer look at those wires and see how they work so you can wire them with no trouble.

How To Wire A 3 Speed Fan Switch

Before you start trying to wire a 3 speed fan switch, it’s important to understand each wire and what it does. 

Understanding The Wires

There are four individual wires that you should be aware of. All 3 speed fan switches will have a hot wire – this is the wire that connects to the power.

Without it, your 3 speed fan will not be able to work at all.

The hot wire will connect from your home’s power source to the lever switch, and then to the fan motor (the part that turns your ceiling fan). 

It’s important that you find your hot wire first and connect it up to your chain lever and then to the fan motor.

From the fan motor, you should run a neutral wire. Neutral wires carry the circuit back to the power source and allow it to ground, thus making the electricity travel a full circuit. 

Do not try to turn on your 3 speed fan switch until these two wires are properly secured and wired. 

The final two wires both connect from the lever switch to the fan motor and each one represents a speed for your fan.

If you pull the switch once, it will connect the hot wire (that is carrying power) to the first speed (usually the low speed wire).

When you pull the switch lever again, it will switch wires, so the hot wire is connected to the second speed wire (usually a medium speed). 

However, if there are only two different speed wires, then how can a 3 speed fan have three speed settings?

This is because when you pull the chain a third time, the hot wire should connect to both the first and second speed wire simultaneously.

This is how most ceiling fans operate on a high speed – because both wires are working together to signal the fan motor to go faster. 

Now that you understand your four separate wires, it’s time to go through the steps on how to connect them all up. 

Connecting The Wires

Connecting The Wires

Before you start wiring your 3 speed fan switch, you should first make sure there is no power running through the hot wire.

You should cut off the electricity to the room so you can safely wire the switch. 

Once you are sure that the power is off, connect the neutral wire to the power and to the fan. 

Then, you can connect the hot wire from the power source to the chain lever switch. From the chain lever switch, connect the first speed wire to the fan motor. 

Turn on your home’s power and try pulling the lever. It should just switch the fan on and off with each pull and the fan should move at the same speed every time.

Once you’re sure that the hot wire and neutral are properly connected, you can now move on to connecting the final wire. 

Once again, make sure that the power is off before you connect another wire into the circuit.

One the second speed wire is connected from the hot wire to the fan motor, you can turn on the power again and try pulling the lever. 

One pull should start your ceiling fan on a low speed, a second pull should switch to medium speed.

A third pull will then switch the fan to its highest speed, and a fourth pull should shut it off completely. 

Which Wire Is Which?

A common problem that a lot of people face when wiring their 3 speed fan is that they often end up mixing the wires.

This means that you end up wiring the wrong wire and your new 3 speed fan will not work. So – how can you work out which wire is which?

Well, a good indicator is the color of the wire. Each brand of 3 speed ceiling fans will have an independent color of each of the wires included when you purchase the ceiling fan.

However, there is no definite color scheme for all ceiling fans – so you will have to check with the manual regarding which wire is what color. 

A lot of ceiling fans use the color black to represent the live wire and white to represent the neutral wire, but can use any other colors ranging from blue, red, green, and even purple to represent the other wires. 

Alternatively, you can use a multimeter or continuity tester to try and work out which of the wires are what speed setting.

When using a continuity tester, you can also find out which wire is the live wire too!

Just set up the wires with your continuity attached and pull on the switch – the continuity tester will light up to show which wire is responding.

When using the multimeter, use one that uses alligator clips and set it so that it will read the ohms of the wire.

Set it up and start reading the ohms of each wire.

The general rule is that the high speed wire will show the lowest amount of ohms, while the low speed wire will show the highest amount of ohms. 

This makes sense as ohms measure the electrical resistance in a wire, so this means that the high speed wire has the lowest ohms, giving more power to the fan motor for it to move faster.

Alternatively, the low speed wire has a high amount of resistance, leading to less power reaching the fan motor, meaning that it has to move more slowly. 

After this, you then know which wire is which! 


Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how to wire a three speed fan switch.

If you are already familiar with electricals and wires, then this will be a breeze, because as long as you are aware of which wire is which, then you won’t have a problem connecting them all together to make a circuit. 

Just remember to ensure that all the power is off before you go fixing any wires, and that you have correctly installed the neutral wire first.

After this, the rest will just fall into place. Good luck!

Need to Hire a Plumber?
Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.

Recent posts

Need help with a repair or install?

Free Online Quote

By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age