Red, Black, White, Blue: What Each Ceiling Fan Wire Means

A ceiling fan with the wiring shown.

Every single ceiling fan wire has a special purpose in order for the fan to function correctly and safely. Although there are four different wires involved, wiring a ceiling fan is not a difficult job. Here is a brief description of every wire which might be helpful when installing a fan. As with any other electrical device, remember to switch off the current from the main box before you start installation or repair.

Wiring Color Codes

Before reading this information, it is important to note that there are different wiring color codes in different countries around the world. The wiring color codes in Europe are not the same as those in North America. Thus, before trying to install a ceiling fan, make sure to use the correct wiring diagram for your specific fan in your region. Here we will describe the wire colors as according to the wiring color codes for the USA and Canada.

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Red Wire

A ceiling fan usually consists of two main parts: the fan and a lighting assembly. The red or striped wire is the hot wire for the lighting fixture of the ceiling fan, so if your ceiling fan does not have a lighting fixture, it will only have the three other wires mentioned in the following sections. Moreover, sometimes this wire can come directly from the main circuit breaker in order to always be on.

Black Wire

The black wire is the main hot wire, which generally comes from the main circuit breaker. This wire is always on, so make sure that there is no current when dealing directly with this one to avoid any injury. Being the main hot wire, the primary function of the black wire is to provide current to the fan’s motor.

White Wire

The white wire of the ceiling fan is the main neutral, for both the light fixture and the fan motor. During installation of the ceiling fan, this white wire should be attached to the other neutral wire of the house wiring. However, the white wire of the house wiring system could also have a piece of tape attached to it indicating that it is being used for another purpose, so look for any markers before you attach anything.

Blue Wire or Green Wire

Since there are a lot of different color codes, it is unclear what the exact purpose of the blue wire is, but you can use your individual fan's wiring diagram to learn how it functions.

Another important wire is usually a green one, which is used to ground all the systems of the ceiling fan. Depending on your color code, you could have either a blue or green wire, or both, in addition to the other three.

When dealing with a ceiling fan wiring system, it is important to know what you are doing and to work as safely as possible, so even if the current is switched off from the main supply, it is recommended to double check for any current flow by first using a tester. If you are trying to repair a ceiling fan but you cannot understand its wiring connection, it is strongly recommended to refer to a professional electrician.

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