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What do you do about ceiling fans?


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#1 Linwood

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 06:38 PM

Not having bought a ceiling fan for about 13 years things have changed.

 

Now house pre-wires include one hot and one switched, but... 

 

98% of the fans I find expect you to have only a hot, and they have a remote that controls the fan and light.  So when you hang them you either use the hot (and only the remote) or the switched (and the fan comes on and off at the way you last set the remote). 

 

From a home automation standpoint this means that wall mount fan speed controls no longer work, and similarly you cannot use a switch on the wall for just the light.

 

At least not without modification.  

 

So what do people do who ware setting up home automation?

 

One option, if you have a AC motor, is try to convert it to old-style wall control. Example: https://pottsy84.wor...remote-control/

 

I have not tried that, and in particular not sure if the LED assembly in most fans today is 110v or low voltage, but it does seem likely this could be done.  I could then put a RF dimmer and RF fan control on the wall and control it.  If it's an AC fan.

 

I bought an AC fan, and it hums.  I hate it.  I can't decide if I can put it up with it enough to bother converting, or if I should just move it to some little used room.

 

I also bought a DC fan, and that seems much harder to hack in the same way.

 

Then there's BOND.  https://bondhome.io/

 

That looks promising, and they have a beta of local IP control from programs like Home Assistant, but apparently it is not working well.  But a possibility -- no hacking the fan, just hack the RF interface.

 

Anyone using either of these approaches?   What would you do if starting fresh (I have bought only two fans so far, one pretty cheap so almost a throw-away, need four more). 

 

Are there other good options? 

 

Linwood



#2 wkearney99

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 06:48 PM

Yep, fans are a hot mess.  One with an AC motor is about the only thing you can reliably control 3rd party.  Anything else, well, you've got the picture.

With all the hoops folks jump through trying to work around existing wiring, it's often a lot less trouble to have an electrician pull new wire.

 

I specifically bought AC motor fans and have 2 switch gang position to control them.  One is a 2ANF fan controller, the other is a suitable dimmer for the type of light in the dome.  In one case I have a fan whose wall switch location has no room for another control, so I added a Powpak module to the ceiling box to handle switching the light on/off.  An alternative would have been to put a dimmer into a single gang box 'somewhere else' and controlling it from the keypad.  That would have accomplished the same thing.  This is a 2 gang box, one is a hybrid keypad, the other the fan control.  The keypad dims the ceiling cans and one of the buttons controls the fan light (via the LMJ module).  

But if you've got a DC motor fan with an integrated LED light assembly... you're pretty much screwed for any kind of 3rd party automation.

The public has NO idea how eff'ed up this is...



#3 Linwood

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 06:53 PM

ACtually in terms of wiring I am pretty good, as every place I have a fan, I also have a switched outlet, and I do not expect to use any of them.  So I could easily convert the no-switched hot that goes to the fan pre-wire to a switch (and in doing so convert the switched outlet to non-switched). 

 

But I'm not impressed with the one AC motor fan I bought; it hums. 

 

With your AC fans, did you manage to find ones with AC lights and separate wiring?   Mine is driven off the remote control (maybe it's still AC, I ought to get a meter and look). 

 

Anyone experiment with BOND as an alternative? 



#4 TrojanHorse

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 09:13 PM

How important is the light? A DC fan doesn’t use a lot of energy relative to AC fans so I just let mine run to help with circulation in our tall ceilings. An option though not ideal - you can always solder a remote to some relays... Another issue with these newer fans is if you want to reverse them seasonally, that’s usually a toggle switch in effect on the remote. So if you have more than one fan on the same circuit and/or switch and can’t turn them off independently they need to both receive the reverse button press at the same time or you can have a mess with them not going the right direction. I think the same can apply to lights. As I write this I suppose you could use a different remote for each fan, but that’s a pain if you want to control them as a group. Here I wired a Insteon on/off modules in the fan canopy for my 3 living room fans so I never need to go 20 feet up to mess with them if they get out of sync So here I have my DC fans wired to the switch so I can turn them on/off (to the prior speed - fine with me). No lights needed in my situation. Would like a better control option though... Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

#5 rockinarmadillo

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 10:00 PM

I went with Emerson DC fans.   They are smooth quiet, and energy efficient.   They come with a wall control module that wirelessly controls the fan and light kit.   The wall control did not work well for me because it is apparently on the same frequency as our baby monitor.   Therefore I ditched the wall control and replaced it with a UPB relay wall switch.    Now I can only turn the fan on and off (it remembers the previous speed and direction setting)    I bought a wireless remote to control the speed and direction.   I know that the wireless remote has the same problem with the baby monitor, but I very rarely change the speed or direction.   It is not a problem.

 

I decided to avoid fan lights altogether.   I put 4 cans in each bedroom and 2-3 table lamps all controlled by UPB.   When I press the light switch by the door, the lamps come on at 100% and the cans come on at 50%.   Double clicking the light switch brings everything up to 100% (for cleaning or finding contact lenses).    It is a very comfortable and inviting light.   Any time you can look directly at a bulb, you invoke glare.   Your pupils constrict and your vision is degraded.   It is difficult to avoid glare with a ceiling fan light.  



#6 dgage

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 05:13 AM

I have been using the non-automated wireless fan/light controls from Hampton Bay for my kids bedrooms for the longest time. Their rooms have 4 wires going from the wall switch to the fan but the wall box was installed with a single gang box. I just ordered RadioRa2 2ANF fan controls as well as the new Pico switches for fans (fan engraving) to put into each of the rooms. I also bought them new fans and I definitely spent a little more on these fans since the kids are growing up and I hope to sell this house after the kids graduate in the next 3 years or so. So I converted the single-gang switch boxes to double-gang and installed a dimmer and the fan control unit. The fans are usually kept low and I dont hear any noise with the AC fan controls. For the master bedroom, we bought a more expensive AC fan (traditional) and dont have any noise issues either. Id say the secret is in buying a slightly nicer AC fan but the reality is we probably just got lucky. The DC fans are usually better quality but unfortunately wed lose automation. When we buy a new house, if the fans make noise, well probably upgrade them to DC fans.

Edited by dgage, 11 March 2019 - 05:14 AM.


#7 wkearney99

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 06:50 AM

I think one of them expected to be controlled via their own remote, but supported being wired up with external control via AC.  The others were deliberately selected as being old school AC units, to be wired that way.  When I put these in there weren't any fans that has any sort of 'compatible' 3rd party controls.  It was a chore narrowing down which ones were going to work.



#8 Linwood

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 09:18 AM

So no one has tried hacking an AC motor fan with remote to power it via a fan control, i.e. removing the remote and direct wiring it?



#9 wkearney99

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 09:32 AM

Yes, if it's an actual AC motor fan and you can get AC wiring to the motor, it's certainly do-able.  The hard part is determining if it's going to be capable of having that done to it, without actually getting one and taking it apart.  If you're lucky the vendor will have their install instructions online and you can check those first.

If it's a DC fan you're done, full-stop, as those are almost always going to have a proprietary motor control board of some sort.  Your only external option is an on/off switch controlling the power itself, no speed control.



#10 Linwood

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 09:38 AM

Yeah, I can't find any instructions (downloaded a few from manufacturers).  I think the two unknowns are whether I can get the right starter capacitor inline (since from some people who have hacked them these appear to reside in the remote receiver), and whether I can get the light working.

 

Though as @rockinarmadillo suggests, maybe the best answer is ignore the lights.  I have one (over a pool table) I want to use because it helps kill shadows, but in most rooms I am not that happy with how the lights illuminate the area anyway.  Maybe I should take that pre-wired wire and run some gutter light around the room or something.  



#11 feobrien

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 09:23 AM

I went the bond route. Been happy with that solution.and contril via Alexa.



#12 upstatemike

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 12:57 PM

Not exactly the same situation but I want to convert two old style 3 speed fans (no built-in remotes) from operating off a single toggle switch to a single automated fan speed control switch. Do these fan speed controllers handle multiple loads OK or do you have to stick with 1 fan per switch?



#13 wkearney99

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 01:50 PM

The old connection was just on/off power?  I'm guessing with AC fans you might actually be able to control two of them off the same controller, provided the wattage was under the max load.  I recall seeing a thread about just that over on the Lutron forum:


https://forums.lutro...ns-amp-RRD-2ANF

 

Bearing mind that this would be setting the same speed on both of them and you would not be able to use any on-fan speed control.  I don't think it's at all advisable (or safe) to use a wall fan control in conjunction with anything on the fan itself.  To retain use of on-fan speed control you'd have to use a 8ANS switch, not a 2ANF fan control or any other sort of dimmer.
 



#14 Linwood

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 01:57 PM

@upstatemike, also, you may not find them running at the same speed, it is much like two different types of lights on the same dimmer.



#15 upstatemike

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 02:12 PM

Exact same model fans and would leave the local chain switch on high on both of them. I just wasn't sure what two inductive loads in parallel might do to the on-wall fan speed controller. They were wired expecting to use the chain switches to set the speed on each and the single wall switch was just a master on-off. Maybe have to leave it that way.






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