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How Much Power Does A Bathroom Fan Use – Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I add a bathroom fan switch to my existing bathroom light switch to control my bathroom fan separately?
Answer: Depending on how the house was originally wired, adding a bathroom fan switch may be a matter of changing some of the connections on the existing light switches. . So you can install a combined device with two pole switches on one strip. Note: Some text links below are to related products on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
How Much Power Does A Bathroom Fan Use
I got this request a few times, and in some cases I had to open an existing wall switch and make some changes. I remove the wall panel, release the switch in the switch box and move the switch away from the wall to connect to the wires. Sometimes getting paint off the wall panel screws is the hardest part.
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If there is a cable inside the switch box that goes to the light fixture in the bathroom and another separate cable that goes to the bathroom fan, a second switch can be made without installed additional wiring. See the bathroom fan wiring diagram below.
The original wiring consists of a cable that brings power to the switch box, along with two cables that go separately to the fan and the light. There may be other cables that provide power to other parts of the house. Simply be connected to the bread and neutral.
Connect all white neutral wires using wire nuts or other types of wire connectors. Connect the black wire that goes to the fan and the light to the black mesh that goes to the same wall switch.
The black wire of the power cable is connected to the other terminal of the switch. When the switch is turned on, electricity flows to both the fan and the light at the same time.
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Inside the electrical box with the wall switch, I will disconnect the black wire that goes to the bathroom fan from the black wire that goes to the light fixture. A combination switch like the one below was then installed to replace the old pole switch.
In the above replacement, the hot wire in the switch box is connected to one of the black screw terminals. Then the black wire from the fan goes under one of the copper screws. The other black wire from the light goes under the second copper screw. The ground conductor goes under the green screw only.
In the picture below you can see the wiring terminals. The two screws on the left are hot joints, clearly visible because of the broken clamp between them. You can get two separate circuits to power this device just by disconnecting one small clip.
The wire connections on the back of the switch are illustrated together with two single pole switches
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Due to the wiring method of the original installer, it is not always possible to quickly change the wiring connections. In this case, the next option is to install a new separate cable for the fan or light fixture to allow two separate switches.
Pictured below is a job where I replaced the entire tub fan unit and installed a separate wall switch for the fan. The exhaust fan in the old bathroom was a wire from the ceiling light fixture next to it. So a new cable was needed from the switch post to the new bathroom fan.
Replacing the fan unit is considered a repair and does not require an inspection by a city electrical inspector. The new wiring and switch box had to be checked, but it was a small job and did not require a thorough inspection. I submitted an electrical permit a few weeks before starting work.
The existing switch box was full of wiring, so two sets of old working switches had to be installed to bring it up to code. Section 314.16 of the National Electrical Code describes how to calculate the required cubic inch capacity for each size of wire.
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I developed my own method of cutting access holes in the wall where the wires need to be installed. I held the saw at a 45 degree angle and cut the hole with the blade angled inwards. This makes the repair easier. See the pictures at the end of the renovation.
The existing switch box had a total of six wires and ground. One black wire and one white was the power supply that fed the box. Another black and white pair was fed from this switch box to the hall light switch box.
The last pair of wires went to the existing ceiling light in the bathroom. I marked the black LOAD wire that went to the light fixture with red paperwork.
Access to holes cut in the ceiling and wall to fish out the new wiring for the bathroom fan
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I had to cut access holes in the ceiling and wall to route the new cable to the existing switch location. The roof had trusses for the beams, which made it easy to cross the new cables.
The wall was more difficult because it was close to the medicine cabinet, the cabinet behind that wall, and the door. The above hole was cut at a 45 degree angle with a saw.
I used a saw or hole punch to cut these holes. However, ever since I bought my range of tools, I have been using them to cut access holes in the drywall.
After cutting the access holes in the drywall, I had to drill the holes using a half-inch Milwaukee angle drill. I had to dig through the top wall panel to get to the ceiling. I had to dig out part of the wall to route the new cable to the existing switch.
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Above is a new Romex cable installed next to my existing wiring that will be reused when the new switch is installed.
Before I removed the old switch box, I attached the new plastic work box to the wall and drew a line to cut the hole. Old boxes with larger holes are easier to remove.
I slowly start pulling the wire to the two old new working switches. As I move the box closer to the wall, I continue to pull each string until the box is inside the wall.
The switch installation is almost complete. The homeowner wanted to replace the existing locator light switch with the new tub fan switch.
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Old pieces of drywall were cut out and the holes patched. Edges and cuts of drywall on the walls are lubricated with a thick layer of joint compound. Once the part is in place, some of the compound will come out. Smooth it out with a wide-bladed putty knife.
Due to the angular section of the plaster wall, there is no need to glue the connections. Allow the combined mixture to dry overnight. The next day, smooth it a little with a damp sponge or fine sandpaper, then apply a second coat. A third coat may be necessary to finish.
For large sections of the ceiling, I install one or two blocks of wood and screw the drywall section until the joint dries.
The old ceiling fan had a plastic housing that made it easy to remove. I kept cutting parts with my pliers.
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New Panasonic bathroom fan with dusty interior in my office. I usually wipe them off before installing the motor and grill. Panasonic fans are designed to fit into existing fan locations. I like the Panasonic WhisperFit fan models because they are great for use with 3″ or 4″ air ducts.
Below is another photo of a bathroom renovation where the drywall is removed from the wall. You can see what the first electrician will do to avoid the medicine cabinet.
The first thing I did when I started this job was to move the plug to the same height as the switch.
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