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How to wire 3-speed fan switch

Just buy another fan

How to replace fan switch

Illustration shows 3-speed fan switch with 3 wires.
Some 3-speed fan switches have 4 wires.
3 speed fan switch
3-wire switch illustration.
4-wire switch is not illustrated, read instructions to right.
There are different types of 3-speed/four wire switches.

ALWAYS photograph switch wiring before removing old switch, so mapping to new switch is easier.
Replacing 3-way pull-chain switch is not always simple.
Old and new switch should be tested to see if they are compatible match.

Old switch and new switch should be compared using multi-meter or continuity tester.  See image of multimeter
Switch similarities: each switch has same 2 similarities:
1) Each 3-speed fan switch has same pull-chain sequence: off-high-medium-low.
2) Each 3-speed fan switch has only one wire that connects to Hot wire. So one-and-only-one wire is Hot.
Switch differences:
3) Here's where different 3-way fan switches can vary:
Some switches are 3-wire, and some are 4-wire.
Each has 1 hot wire, but the other two or three wires on the switch are not necessarily the same from switch to switch.
4) For example connect power to Hot wire. Let's say switch is in off position. Pull chain once for high speed and power might flow from Hot wire and go to just one wire, -or- power might flow to two wires, depending on the switch.
5) Pull chain again for medium speed, and power might flow to just one wire, -or- power might flow to two different wires.
6) Pull chain again for low speed, and power usually flows from Hot wire to just one wire.
How to test:
7) Easiest place to start is to find which wire is Hot.
When testing, only one wire shows continuity to all other wires as you cycle through pulling the chain.
8) Once hot wire is determined.
Then use multimeter or continuity tester to test which sequence of wires receives power each time chain is pulled.
9) Repeat same test on old switch. Or use deduction to limit number of possibilities.
10) Note how old switch was connected. And then map the change-over to new switch. If old and new switches are not the same, then they will not work.
Fan pullchain switches
3-speed fan wiring diagrams
(11) If old switch cannot be tested, make note what speed the fan is on before disconnecting old switch. For example the fan is stuck on medium speed. If possible, make note which color wire connects to Hot. Take photo of wires. Then remove old switch, and leave old switch stuck in medium. Test old switch to see which wire(s) has continuity to Hot wire. That wire(s) will be the medium speed. Then test new switch for which wire(s) is medium speed. This will narrow down the number of guesses needed to connect new switch.

L - Black, 1 - Grey, 2 - Brown, 3 - Purple
L - Orange, 1 - Black, 2 - Yellow, 3 - Purple
L - Black, 1 - Grey, 2 - Brown, 3 - Green
L - Grey, 1 - Yellow, 2 - Purple, 3 - Black
L - White, 1- Black, 2 - Blue, 3 - Yellow
Test 3-speed fan switch with continuity tester
Continuity testers at Amazon
Test old switch and new switch with continuity tester or multimeter to match up wires.
Use this technique to identify Hot wire.
Use this technique to identify which wire, or combination of wires corresponds to each pull of chain.
Set multimeter to read ohms


Larger image

Basic 3-speed motor

Start winding and capacitor start motor rotating.
Main winding accelerates motor to selected speed.
Hot voltage connects to main winding at 3 different points.
Each point will energize main winding as Power from Black Hot wire flows to White neutral wire.
When less of the Main winding is energized, the motor slows down.

How to test which wire is which speed?

In basic diagram, there are three wires that enter the motor.
Color code shows generic wire colors that will not necessarily match your fan.
Switch is disconnected, so only the three wires are tested.
Test each wire to White neutral wire with multimeter set to Ohms.
High speed shows lowest Ohms. Low speed shows highest Ohms.

Motor wiring

Larger image
How to wire double rocker switch
How to wire double rocker switch Image assumes switch box has hot and neutral wires.
The hot wire can also arrive from ceiling box where light is located.

How to wire switches
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Pass and Seymour TM813
Legrand TM813 switch has single-pole and 3-way switch.

Diagram shows how to wire 3-way switch that controls a light, and single-pole switch that controls a fan.

Example shows removal of break-away fin since Hot wire powering 3-way circuit is located in box with other 3-way switch.

How to wire TM8111 switch How to wire TM8111
TM8111 switch


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