GE Smart Fan Control with Smart Bulbs - Fan off with lights on?

Hello everyone,

I recently got a GE Smart Fan Control Switch and everything seems to work fine for my purposes right out of the box with SmartThings, except for one issue.

Is it possible to have the fan off (not spinning) but the Smart Lights still on? I can achieve this using the pull chain from my fan, but I was wondering if it’s possible to do from SmartThings.

On the SmartThings dashboard, if I set the fan speed to Off, it turns off the entire thing including the bulbs.

Thanks in advance!!

Woah - when controlling a ceiling fan with this device you should be running separate load to the fan and light kit. It’s not intended to run the lamps at ALL…

SIMPLE FAN CONTROL – Operate, schedule and create custom scenes for your ceiling fan wirelessly with a smartphone or voice commands when connected to a compatible hub. The smart device is specifically designed to control the speed of up to two identical fans and cannot be used for lighting. However, lights on fans featuring three wires – typically red, black and white – as well as line and ground wires can be controlled by a separate GE-branded Enbrighten Z-Wave Smart Switch or Dimmer in the same wall box.

This is because this device is NOT a dimmer, it’s designed to handle inductive loads (big long electrical engineering description here)

You have to use a separate controller for the lights… If you can’t because you only have one load wire heading to the fan kit from the wall box, you cannot use this device.

I understand that the switch isn’t designed to control the bulbs. I don’t plan on using the switch as a dimmer. A simple On/Off state is fine for my needs as far as the bulbs go.

My question is whether I can use SmartThings to do what I can do manually with the fan, that is, turn off the blades with the pull chain, but leave the lights on.

How is your fan wired?
In a perfect world you would have a fan controller controlling the blades and a separate switch or dimmer controlling the lamp kit. In that case, yes, you set the light controller to be always hot (some can do it in software) and then you control fan speed and lamps separately.

In this case, if I’m understanding your question correctly, it sounds like you have the fan controller feeding the fan and the light kit is also on the same load, holding smart bulbs? (Which I hope isn’t the case) If so - you have two problems… One you can start a fire if someone uses the fan controller to slow the fan and the lights are on (It’s less likely than if someone uses a dimmer on a fan but basically the same principle in reverse) and two - you WILL damage those smart bulbs, it’s not a maybe, it’s a certainty - just a matter of time.

My case is the latter, but I was under the impression this was safe. See option 3 in this FAQ thread:

Option three in that FAQ is not what you are describing. The switch on the wall does not control the current to the lights.

Instead, that switch allows for either a tap or a double tap. The tap cuts the current on the circuit branch the switch is installed on. The double tap does not change the current directly. Instead, it sends a radio signal either to the smartthings hub or to the bulbs directly if they are Z wave smart bulbs (so not to, for example, Hue, which are not Z wave)

The single tap works like a regular dumb switch and turns the current on and off. In the use case described in the FAQ, that would turn off the fan, but not the lights. The lights would normally be turned off with the pull chain.

However, if you use smart bulbs, then you can leave the pullchain current always turned on and communicate with those bulbs by radio.

That allows you to use the double tap feature (which again, does not cut the current) To turn the bulbs on and off independent of the pull chain.

I hope that helps clear up any confusion. :sunglasses:

If you have your switch on the wall, whether it is smart or dumb, wired in such a way that just turning the switch off turns off both the fan and the light kit, that’s very unusual and it’s not how most fans are designed.

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Unfortunately it is not. The GE Fan Controller should NEVER be used for a circuit that includes lighting just as a dimmer should NEVER be used for a circuit that includes a fan. You should look at a separate option.

In a single load situation, the Inovelli or Hampton bay solutions are both pretty elegant.

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Huh, ok. Thinking back, I believe the old dumb switch would also turn off the light kit on the fan as well as the fan itself.

Would it be a wiring issue with the fan itself or with the GE Switch?

Some more context: On the wall there are two switches: one controls the outlet on the other side of the room, the other controls the fan.

Looking at the manual for the fan ( it seems there are two ways of wiring depending on if there is one or two switches.

My question is, if the fan was wired as “one switch” is that where we messed up? Should it be wired as two switches to independently control the light and the fan?

You have one switch from that documentation. It’s a valid way to install a fan and common if you are replacing a light only OR if your house is in the US and wired before the 1990s. :slight_smile:

The MOST Flexibility is if you had two switches in the wall box, then you could have independent control of the fan and the light at the wall on two independent switches. Unfortunately, you don’t have that so lets work with what we have.

Option 1: Put in a single On/Off only Smart Switch. This is a valid configuration because you’re just doing power and fan control/dim is out of the equation. you can use ANY smart switch that does on/off

Option 2: Use the fan controller - disconnect your light kit. - yeah that’s as bad as it sounds from a usability perspective - so we won’t dig in here.

Option 3: Bypass the switch and put in smart relays inside the canopy of the fan. Do-able and gives on off for the fan and possibly even dimming on the light depending on who’s mini relays you use. but you have to leave power ON at the wall OR use a wall controller that can be wired as no-load. While you can make this one work, it gets expensive quickly as you have multiple relays and possibly another wall switch.

Option 4: The Hampton bay or the Inovelli controller. They’re both designed to handle the EXACT scenario you have. here’s the link to the Inovelli documentation

see how it has a module to install in the canopy? The wall switch always supplies power to that module and just relays Zwave instructions to the fan giving you independent control on only one load wire.

Option 5: If you’re game, you can just re-pull a 14-3 (or 12-3, depending on what you already have) Romex cable from the wall switch to the fan canopy, and now you have a two wire config.

In your situation I’d return the GE and get an Inovelli and go Option 4.

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Thank you Nathan for your clear explanation! Went ahead and ordered a couple of Inovelli switches to try out.

Quick side question. I have multiple fans (installed before we purchased it) in the house that are controlled by a single dumb switch that has a light control (not dimmable) and 4 fan speed settings (off, low, med, high). Because it’s a single switch, does that mean there must be some sort of RF module in the fan?

Yep that sounds like what’s going on. I’d bet you could control those with a Bond controller if you don’t want to convert them to the solution you’re using with your new fan. Nice fan BTW.