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Buying guide for best ceiling fan remote controls

Ceiling fans circulate the air in your house, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. They save on your electric bills by giving your A/C and heater a break. Most ceiling fans have lights, so they’re a great two-for-one deal.

But a ceiling fan’s pull chains can be a hassle. They’re either too short or too long. They also sway too much, and you can’t tell them apart when it’s dark. As time goes by, pull chains begin to stick as the mechanical parts gradually wear out. The pull chain mechanism often fails before anything else, leaving you with a ceiling fan and lights that can only be controlled by a wall switch.

A ceiling fan remote control can be installed on existing ceiling fans, and it’s a great way to circumvent any pull chain problems once and for all. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about ceiling fan remote controls.

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Ceiling fans that are “down-rod” styles may not have room for the receiver unit. If that’s the case, you may have to push the receiver up into the ceiling. This will limit the range of the ceiling fan remote control.

Key considerations


Ceiling fan remote control kits consist of a remote control pad and a receiver. The remote control pad should fit in your hand. Unlike the small buttons on a TV remote, the buttons on a ceiling fan remote control are generally larger. This is a helpful feature when it’s dark.

The size of the receiver is more crucial. It has to fit inside the ceiling mount housing of your ceiling fan or in the ceiling itself. If the receiver is too big to fit inside the fan, you’ll have to remove the electric box, push the receiver through, then reattach the electric box. This creates an extra step during installation.

Before you buy a remote control kit, check the manual on your ceiling fan to find out if there is room inside the housing for the receiver. If the manual doesn’t have that information, call the manufacturer’s customer support line. Ceiling fan remote controls are growing in popularity, so customer support should be familiar with answering this question.

Universal vs. brand-specific

Ceiling fan remote control kits can be universal or specific to a particular brand of ceiling fan. Most ceiling fan remote controls will list the compatible brands in their description. This makes it easier to determine if the receiver will fit inside the fan housing, but it isn’t a guarantee. Your best bet is a kit that is specific to the brand of your ceiling fan. Universal kits are usually cheaper, but they don’t always fit.


The receiver is connected to the fan, so it runs off the electricity in the house. However, the remote control requires batteries like your other remotes. Most ceiling fan remote controls use AA or AAA batteries. Very few kits include batteries. Be sure to have some on hand.



Not only should ceiling fan remote controls include certain minimum functions, but they should also be laid out in a convenient fashion that is easy to use. Some of the remotes are overly complicated. If they’re too confusing to use, you’re better off sticking with pull chains. The best remote controls are those that separate the light controls from the fan controls. If the buttons are too close together, you’re more likely to mix them up, which can be frustrating.


Some ceiling fan remote controls include a dimmer switch. These remote controls only work with incandescent bulbs. If you have LED bulbs in your fan, the dimmer won’t work.

Fan speed

On a ceiling fan remote control, the controls for the fan speed should be separate from the controls for the lights to prevent confusion. Ceiling fans always have three different speeds. Your remote control should reflect that with three different buttons, one for each speed.


A small percentage of ceiling fan remote controls allow you to reverse the direction of the blades without having to reach up and use the selector switch on the fan. It’s a nice touch, but it’s not essential. It also requires additional wiring inside the fan housing to connect the receiver to the selector.


Some manufacturers claim their ceiling fan remote controls work up to 100 feet, but if you read the manual closely, you’ll discover that’s in the open air. The range of ceiling fan remote controls is considerably less inside a house where the signal can be blocked by walls. That said, as long as the range is at least 40 feet, you’ll be fine.

Wall mount

Some ceiling fan remote control kits include a wall mount for the remote. Mount it next to the wall switch where you’re used to turning the fan on and off, and you’ll be able to find the remote whenever you need it.


  • Ceiling medallions: A ceiling medallion, like the Westinghouse Lighting Victorian White Finish Ceiling Medallion, is a great way to hide a hole in the ceiling that is too large for your fan to cover. You install the ceiling medallion between the fan and the ceiling.
  • Light shades: Ceiling fan light shades come in all shapes and sizes. If you want to personalize your ceiling fan, these Hunter Frosted Glass Shades can replace the factory ones that came with your fan. Additionally, frosted shades will tone down and soften the brightness of the lights.
  • Wall hooks: Remote control wall hooks, such as the Fengirl Remote Control Wall Self-Adhesive Hooks, can take the place of wall mounts. Place the wall hook next to the switch plate so that you’ll always know where the remote is. You can even use the remote while it is mounted to the wall.

Ceiling fan remote control prices

Under $20 is the low end of the price range for ceiling fan remote controls. These are the universal remotes that are supposed to work with every ceiling fan.

Mid-range ceiling fan remote controls cost $20 to $25. These remotes are usually brand-specific and feature better-quality workmanship.

The most expensive ceiling fan remote controls start at $25 and go up. These remotes are brand-specific, have smaller receivers to better fit inside fans, and boast longer remote control ranges.


  • Turn off the breaker for the room where the ceiling fan is located before you install the receiver inside the fan.
  • Read the instructions thoroughly before you begin the installation. If there are videos available from the manufacturer, be sure to watch them so that you fully understand the process.
  • Installing the receiver in your ceiling fan is a two-person job. Don’t try to do it alone.
  • Double-check all the electrical connections before reattaching the fan to the ceiling.
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Before installing a ceiling fan remote control, use the pull chain to set the fan to its highest speed and use the other pull chain to turn the lights on. This is the required pull chain setting that the remote needs to work properly.


Q. Where is the receiver box supposed to go?
Ideally, the receiver should fit inside the main ceiling fan housing. Otherwise, it can be installed in the ceiling.

Q. Is there any way to test the remote before I reattach the fan to the ceiling?
Either you or a helper can hold the fan from underneath by the light globes, turn the power back on at the breaker box, and test the remote that way. This works, but it could be unsafe and we don’t recommend it.

Q. Everything is connected, but my remote control won’t work. What can I do?
Open the battery compartment on the remote. Many of them have dip switches. Remove the canopy of the fan and check the dip switch settings on the receiver. The settings on both have to be the same for the ceiling fan remote control to work.

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