Ceiling fan controller?

I have a number of ceiling fans in my house that I would LOVE to hook up to SmartThings.   Right off the top of my head I can thing of three great reasons:

  1. I’m lazy.  When I’m watching TV in my den I hate to get up, go to the wall and flip the switch to turn on the overhead light/fan, then to the center of the room to adjust the speed of the fan, then sit back down.  I’d rather pull out my smartphone.

  2. Automation would be super cool!  Get a temp sensor in the room along with a motion sensor.  If the temp goes over a specified amount and there is movement in the room, kick on the fan automatically!

  3. Timer off.  We have ceiling fans in all our bedrooms.  It’s nice on a warmer day that isn’t so hot that you need the A/C on to run the fan when you first lay down.  Helps cool things and makes it easier to fall asleep.  However, in the middle of the nice after you’re already asleep and the temp drops a bit it would be great to have auto shut off so they aren’t running all night.


+1 on everything that Chris just said.

Actually, +10 since every person and animal in our house will benefit from this one. We just installed all new ceiling fans last year (along with an 80% remodel of the whole house thanks to Hurricane Irene), and they all have remotes, which gives me hope. Over half of them are Harbor Breeze from Lowes, two are Hunter and one is from some crazy French company.


Well - there is this product… I think I saw in another thread they have run into some bugs with the Vizia products? But maybe I’m mistaken?



That with a multisensor for temp + a motion sensor = much smarter fan indeed!


Hopefully there is another switch option that isn’t $150 however! (That was with just a quick google search.)

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I would use your current things (Motion, MultiSense) then get a cheaper compatible light switch and control the fan side of the unit.  Unless you have a remote most people tie the light/fan together or use double gang boxes and two switches. Just thinking cost vs function.

Yeah, that’s a little pricey!

I’m thinking more of a zwave version of the remotes commonly available: http://www.lowes.com/pd_379573-1811-RCE-103LW_0__?productId=3567442&Ntt=ceiling+fan+remote&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dceiling%2Bfan%2Bremote&facetInfo=

These typically have a little unit that sits inside the housing of the ceiling fan that takes the place of the pull chain for the fan and/or the pull chain for the light.  Now I suspect adding zwave to that little unit would raise the price from $20-40 to something higher… but $150 is quite steep!  Furthermore it looks like with that unit you’d need separate wiring for the fan and the light back to your wall switch.

For those not familiar with ceiling fans/light combos, typically these have two independent systems.  You have a wiring loop for the lights and a wiring loop for the fan.  Often these are wired to the same hot line which is connected to a wall switch.  This is the setup in my den.  I turn on the wall switch, this sends power to both the light loop and the fan loop.  Then on the unit itself are two pull chains.  The first turns on/off the light.  The second will rotate the fan through four settings: Off-High-Medium-Low.  (Obviously the pull chains will do nothing if the switch in my den is turned off.)  The remotes you can get for these units replace those pull chains.  This is where I’d like to see the Z-wave unit sit.

Another common alternate setup is what I have in all my bedrooms: I have two sets of hot lines coming into the fan/light unit.  The first hot line goes to the fan loop.  This is always hot, there is no off switch on it.  I control the fan with the pull chain.  The second hot line goes to the light loop, but this line is also tied to a wall switch.  Now I can use the wall switch to turn on/off my light, like I would a normal bedroom light.  Flipping the switch will not have any effect on the fan as that’s a completely separate line.  I don’t use the pull chain to control my light.  Again a z-wave unit would sit in the fan/light housing, but this time it would just control the fan.  I would not wiring up the light loop into the z-wave unit.


Yeah, I thought about doing it that way Lucas.  The problem is that that is just on/off.  Most ceiling fans have three speeds and ideally I’d like to cycle through all three.

Honestly, 95% of the time I’m using them on medium, so I suppose I could leave the pull chain set on medium and just control on/off.  This would be relatively easy in my bedrooms where I have constant hot leading to the fan loop.  I could just go up into the attic and either put a zwave switch on the line or hack an zwave outlet in there easily enough.

The den would be harder to do because I just have one hot line going in there.  The switch would control both the light and fan.

I unfortunately can’t see any of those remote units being z-wave anytime soon. The manufacturer would make the fan itself z-wave and not the remote. It could probably be hacked together, but I doubt any off the shelf product that uses the current wireless features + zwave will be made.

Minka Aire uses a remote control system on their fans. Sadly, they did their own RF, not Zwave or Zigbee. However, the controller is a small box wired into the ceiling, so if there was a unit later, it would be a fairly easy retrofit.

Unfortunately, I live in an apartment, so I don’t have the luxury of busting into my walls and ceiling fan to replace things (well… I probably could if I didn’t change anything permanently, but I am not sure I want to take the risk right now). I’m thinking that I might take one of the spare Harbor Breeze remotes that I bought and attach an Arduino shield to it and make my own controller… Kind of nasty, but gets the job done and doesn’t require me to risk blowing up a ceiling fan! :slight_smile:

I’ve also been wanting a ZWave/Zigbee ceiling fan/light controller that mounts inside the ceiling fan housing, similar to the Insteon Fanlinc. I actually got a Fanlinc and a remote (the only Insteon gear I have), but of course it can’t integrate with SmartThings yet. At this point I’m hoping someone makes an Insteon/SmartThings bridge so that the two can communicate with each other, although I’d much rather that SmartThings take the initiative and build one themselves. Although come to think of it, I believe everything SmartThings sells that controls mains current is from other companies; I think all the SmartThings-developed devices are DC…

I’ve also thought about building my own in-housing fan controller using the Ardunino shield (I think it would fit) and some relays, but decided that I probably shouldn’t be playing around with mains current.

– Joe

We need a discrete little cord puller! Something to just pull the cord and to just work on every fan out there!

It would likely look strange - but hey! - it should work on almost every fan! :slight_smile:

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Haha. My “contemporary” fans actually don’t even have cords, just remotes. I’m really surprised there isn’t an in wall controller for this that works like a dimmer.

@coryds: My bedroom fan is like that. I installed this switch I got off of Amazon for $35:


It actually comes with a receiver to install in the fan, but if you just set the jumpers the same as in your remote, you don’t need to do that. Along those lines, I’m guessing it’s not IR. It’s also not anything easily usable like Zigbee or Z-Wave, though…

I’m wondering if I can rig something up with the remote, a Spark core, and maybe a couple of shields. Probably wouldn’t be trivial, but I also don’t think I’d be the only person interested in it.

THat looks a lot like a switch I installed in my old house that was able to control the fan and light separately even though they were on the same outlet.

There are cheaper/simpler solutions for fans without remotes, but those require wiring things up in a particular way. Like this one:


I might consider doing that when I replace some old fans, but for now I’m stuck pulling the cords on those. :frowning: Also, Z-wave switches capable of controlling the fan and light separately in that case seem very expensive.

I only have one room where the fan and light are on the same outlet, So, I’m not too worried about that. What I really want is the ability to control fan speed.

Yeah, even just to control the speed seems difficult, since Z-wave switches that do that seem uniformly expensive.

So I’ll try my hand with trying to work something up as a ST-connected remote. Eventually…

I have some designs on this once we are able to buy SmartShields. You could probably easily use a SmartShield (or even a Spark once they are out) to control a relay shield. several of the relay shields support multiple connections. So you would build a circuit to control the buttons on the remote. So while it is a crazy hack, my plan is:

SmartShield(or Spark) - Arduino -> Relay Shield -> store bought RF Fan Controller.

The fan I have in my bedroom now, actually ONLY has an RF remote, there are no chains on it at all.

P.S - Open the store already!!! :slight_smile:


I am not sure what you did but I did find this

I am thinking about running new wire so has anyone found a switch that will work?

That doesn’t appear to be a z-wave or zigbee radio device though. If it is compatible with ST I’d be very interested.