Controling ceiling fan and light with one switch?

Try to control a ceiling fan along with light. Would love to be able turn fan on when temperature reaches a specific degree. Also want to be able to control light. Right now we control each by pull chain. Thanks.

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I only have two wires going to the ceiling fan.

It isn’t ideal but certainly doable. Is it only and ONLY the two wires at the fan? If so that means the power was run through the wall switch box. This is an important detail to know so we know what your options are for hardware devices and where they must be located.

I would suggest if the above is true than to install a GE 12730 Smart Fan Controller (allows for 3 speed fan control) at the wall box switch location and like @pizzinini recommended put a in-wall smart dimmer or switch to control the light.

The more common installation though is to have the power run to the ceiling fan first. And if that is true you won’t have a neutral located at the wall box meaning you won’t be able to install the GE12730 there and it will have to be located up at the ceiling fan. In my house I had to install both the GE and the smart dimmer up in the fan canopy/ceiling box.

So please open up the wall switch box and see if you have incoming power on one of the romex (black from the breaker panel, and the white neutral) and then you have a second romex that goes up to your ceiling fan/light box. And check the same at the ceiling fan fixture wiring box. I use a non-contact voltage detector to help me determine what wiring I have. If you post a picture of the box wiring it really will help us to help you if you are not sure.

Then answer a couple of questions to determine your use case on how you want to use the system:

  • Do you want to have dimmable light control or simple On-Off control?
  • Do you want to use incandescent, LED or CFL bulbs?
  • Do you want 3-speed fan control or just simple On-Off to whatever speed I set via the pull chain?
  • Do you want to have local manual control of the fan at the wall box?
  • Do you want to have local manual control of the light at the wall box?

Each of these options have pros and cons depending on the location of the neutral at the wall box or at the ceiling box. Based on your answers also determine which device to use and then the priorities you put on each also affect your choices.

And finally here is a smartapp to control the ceiling fan based on temperature.


To ask an additional question. Could you possibly use the double duty (think that’s the name) smart app on fan switch in the wall so pushing off (when fan is off) to turn light on? Or something similar to that?

If I understand you correctly, yes. If you simply want to monitor a wall switch so that another switch can turn Off when the first one is On and vice versa is pretty straight forward using Smart Lighting smartapp.

Actually I was thinking this:

Just thinking outloud because this topic has some of my wheels spinning on possible use.

For a follow-up question. In the image you posted I assume the larger item is the fan switch. What is the smaller one. I assume the light dimmer. What brand / type?

It’s an interesting idea, but Double duty probably won’t work in this case for multiple reasons.

  1. The concept of double duty was originally that a smart app would capture two separate taps from a switch and because they were within a predefined time period would then initiate a different event than a single tap.

This doesn’t really map to the fan/light use case. First, there aren’t enough possible variations to give you low/medium/High/off for both fan and light.

More importantly, while double tap worked OK in late 2014 and the beginning of 2015, around the summer of 2015 it started failing for almost everyone because cloud latency threw off the precision needed to meet the time window. You’ll find this discussed in detail in the forum threads about that smartapp.

  1. even when the double duty smart app did work, it didn’t work with all switches, because some switches have their own “debounce” built in which ignores multiple taps in a short time period. Again, see the existing discussions. I am not aware of any switches that can control the fan which will send this kind of double tap.

  2. there might be a possibility, though, with a new kind of switch that was just released in the last couple of months. Homeseer makes a zwave version. The switches count the tap patterns themselves, and then send a single message to the hub with a numeric code. Homeseer switches can distinguish between single tap on, double tap on, triple tap on, single tap off, double tap off, and triple tap off. They send a different code for each of those possibilities. This is allowing people to use double tap functionality again, but not by using the older smart app. They are using a new device type handler created for this particular switch. You’d have to use the switch as a wall remote, as discussed above, and still have a separate network device to control the fan and the light, but the basic concept is there.

However, We still come back to the same issue that that’s only six possible patterns and we would need eight for this particular case. Unless the 0P is willing to go to just low and high, not low/medium/high.

So I think that double tap has a lot of possibilities as a feature offered by a switch manufacturer ( but not as a smartapp because cloud latency is too much of a problem) , but I’m still not sure if it maps to this specific case. I think the eight button remotec device would probably fit better.

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Here is the whole discussion on what I did on the installation:

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@dalec Thank you. I had looked at that forum title. Just hadn’t dove into it yet. Sooo much useful information scattered throughout the forums. Sometimes it’s hard to find stuff.


Maybe I should explain my thoughts. Currently I have a hard wired switch that when I turn it on the ceiling fan comes on and if the light was on when it was turned off it will also come on. So turning on the fan, whether it is low, medium or high isn’t the problem, it’s my thinking that if the light was on before, the fan comes on at the temperature that is set by the app and so will the light. If this happens at night, that’s not good. Am I missing something? How would I turn light on other than pulling the pull chain? Thanks for your thoughts and educating me.

You have it correct if you only want to have a single switch operation. That is why I was suggesting to use 2 smart devices, one for the fan speed and a separate device for the lights. That gives you independent control of fan different from the lights which is not what you currently have. So if you wanted to turn on your lights and not affect the fan and vice versa you could use the mobile app to do it.

It all comes down to how much smart control you would like to have.

So check out those questions and see what you want to end up with to determine your use case on how you want to use the system:

  • Do you want to have dimmable light control or simple On-Off control, or just use the pull chain?
  • Do you want to use incandescent, LED or CFL bulbs? (this limits the device select)
  • Do you want 3-speed fan control or just simple On-Off to whatever speed I set via the pull chain?
  • Do you want to have local manual control of the fan at the wall box?
  • Do you want to have local manual control of the light at the wall box?

I hope that helps clear it up a little better. Just ask away if you have more questions because I am sure someone here can explain it better than the muddy way I did :wink:

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@JDRoberts another off the wall idea to throw out there. To keep from pulling wires for separate fan / light control. Could you install a smart switch in the wall. Using the available power and wiring from fan switch to power it. Don’t actually use switch to power light. (To give people a physical switch to toggle) Then use the position of that switch to trigger / control another smart switch that’s installed in the ceiling fan housing to power the lights.
Curious if that’s been discussed or used before?

Realizing of course that you’ll be unable to turn on the light if your smartthings system is down.

Probably… It would depend on the exact devices being used. But I’m not sure you’re going to get the effect you want because do you want the light to come on every time the fan comes on? What about at night when you’re going to bed?

If it was me, I would probably stick a battery operated switch for the light on the wall next to the fan switch. The Cooper 9500 would work. You could also use one of the smart switch covers without putting it over an existing switch, just putting it flat on the wall. So the Osram or the gocontrol. All three of those would work with any micro that was controlling the light.

You can use a double gang plate over a single gang switch and put the fan switch on one side and one of the battery-operated switches on the other if you like.

Or you can use the Hue dimmer switch with a smart bulb.

Anyway, @dalec did a project with a similar outcome and knows a lot about wiring, he’d probably have much more to say.


I have a wuestion similar.

I am trying to install a ceiling fan with a light in my dining room. There is only one switch and it is a dimmer switch. I know I cannot Conner the fan and light both to the dimmer switch has this is not good for the fan.

I bought a hunter basic remote. If I hook the light and fan up to the remotes receiver can I then keep them on the dimmer switch since the remotes receiver will be on the dimmer switch and light and fan hooked to that? Can I still dim the lights then and run the fan with the remote?