How can I avoid killing portable fans using a GE Fan controller?

Installed a GE Fan controller in a box and had it control an outlet outlet and plugged a portable fan in the outlet. Basically wanted to have speed control over the portable fan via the app.

So far I have killed two fans, one was an expensive Vornado the second one was a cheap Honeywell. Both were 3-speed fans, with a mechanical switch for selecting the speed (low, med, high);

It took almost a year for each of the fans to die. At first they would take longer and longer to start-up and then they eventually stopped working. And once the symptoms developed they behaviour was same whether connected through the GE fan controller or directly in wall.

BTW I have 3 other switches controlling ceiling fans and they have been going great for 3+ years.

Anyway now that I have learnt this expensive lesson - wondering if there is someone here who has an Electrical Engineering background who can explain:

  1. Why did those fans stopped working? i.e. why was I wrong to use the controller, (really looking for a hard-core EE explanation, not because β€œit says so on the box.”)
  2. is there something that can be done to fix them?
  3. Is there a way to internally rewire an off the shelf multi-speed portable fan so it behaves like a ceiling fan from an electrical perspective and use these controllers>


No. The physics are different. Ceiling fans have a stationary Armature and the motor with the fan blades attached rotates counter clockwise.

A table fan has a stationary motor and the Armature with the fan blades attached rotates clockwise.

As far as using the GE switch with a table fan, I would ask technical support at Jasco and see what they say.