Some rooms may only have a light fixture that is part of a ceiling fan. Do you need to install new light fixtures? Or can you screw the smart bulbs into the light fixture of a ceiling fan?
You can install a smart bulb in the light fixture of a ceiling fan if the fan does not have a dimmer. A dimmer will damage the bulb because it creates an inconsistent power supply. You will usually need a small smart bulb or a socket adaptor. You can also use a smart switch to make your fan smart.
You will need to consider which light bulbs to buy and which ceiling fan you have. If you make the wrong choice, you can end up with two devices that aren’t compatible. You can even damage your smart bulb. In this blog post, I cover all the information you need to make an informed decision.
- 1. Bulb size
- 2. Socket type
- 3. A dimmer in the ceiling fan
- 4. The wattage of multiple bulbs
- 5. Energy supply
- 1. The ceiling fan may have a 'hidden' dimming feature.
- 2. If the fan is a newer model, it might have energy-saving features.
Can smart light bulbs be used in any ceiling fans?
You can’t use smart bulbs in all ceiling fans. There are several factors to consider when installing a smart bulb in a ceiling fan. Make sure you check these points first.
1. Bulb size
Most traditional ceiling fans have relatively small sockets.
Many models take A15 sizes, for example, but few smart bulbs are manufactured in this size. For example, Philips Hue lights are not available in this size.
Before buying a smart bulb for your ceiling fan light fixture, use a regular bulb in the same size to check if it fits.
If the bulb does not fit into the fixture, you have the following options:
Buy a different light bulb
This might be impractical if you have already bought your smart bulbs for the room.
This is also a disadvantage if you already have many smart devices from the same brand. If you have to buy a different bulb from a different brand, you will have to download a second app to control the bulbs.
Replace the socket on the ceiling fan
You might have to do some welding here. The next option is easier.
Buy a socket adaptor
This fits into the light fixture and allows a larger smart bulb to screw in. It can ruin the aesthetic of the light fixture, so keep this in mind if this is important to you.
Adding an adaptor can also make your bulb stick out further. If your ceiling fan has a light cover, this could become problematic.
Bulb size is also important if your ceiling fan has a light cover.
You will have to make sure that the bulb you want to install is not too long. This would mean that you can’t close the light cover. This could look silly.
2. Socket type
The shape of the smart bulb must fit into the socket. If the shapes of the bulb and the socket are different, you have the same options as above. Either buy a different bulb, replace the socket or get an adaptor.
3. A dimmer in the ceiling fan
Many ceiling fans have dimmers installed in them. You can use the fan remote to dim the regular lights of the fan.
A dimmer in a ceiling fan (as in a dimming light switch) changes the amount of electricity supplied to the lights.
Smart bulbs need a consistent input voltage. Having a dimmer can thus damage the bulbs.
If you are buying a new ceiling fan, buy one without a dimmer.
If your existing ceiling fan does have a dimmer, you can either:
- turn off the dimming function on the fan or
- leave the fan on 100% brightness
Unfortunately, many bulbs get too hot when they are left at 100% brightness. This can cause damage to the fan and the bulbs. Check the temperature of both regularly if you choose this option.
4. The wattage of multiple bulbs
Many ceiling fan light fixtures have a chandelier style. You can screw multiple bulbs into one fixture.
Each smart bulb uses electricity. Adding more bulbs increases the energy load of the fixture. If too many bulbs are added, the fixture can overheat. In extreme cases, the fan may fall.
To prevent this, check the maximum total wattage of your ceiling fan.
5. Energy supply
A smart light bulb needs a consistent supply of energy. Even if the bulb is “off,” it needs to be able to pick up a signal from your phone if you want to turn it on.
This means that the system will not work if you have one switch controlling the fan and the light bulbs. Every time you switch off the fan, the light bulbs will become “dumb.”
To combat this, you have a couple of options:
1. Have two wall switches in the room, one for the fan and one for the light
2. Have one switch on the wall that controls both the fan and the smart bulb. In this case, will need a hanging string from the fan itself to control the fan and the light separately. If you’ve ever had to figure out which string controls what, you’ll know that this is not the ideal option.
3. You can install a smart switch, as explained below.
Can I use a smart switch to make my ceiling fan smart?
If you install a smart light bulb in a ceiling fan with a regular switch, only the bulb can be controlled remotely.
This means that if you sit down in your living room and want to change the lights, you can do so with your phone. But you will still have to get up to switch the fan on or off. Installing a smart switch can combat this problem.
You can install a smart fan switch that controls both your ceiling fan and your smart lights in the fan. This allows you to maintain a power supply to your smart lights even when the fan is switched off. The smart switch can be controlled remotely via an app on our phone.
You could also link your smart switch to your smart speaker. This will allow you to control your fan and lights with a voice command.
When installing a smart fan switch, you may have to add a neutral wire to the wiring in the wall. If you are uncomfortable with installing a switch yourself, hire a qualified electrician.
If you are renting your home, remember to ask for permission before changing switches.
A smart fan with regular bulbs
Smart light bulbs have many cool possible effects. You can change their brightness, their temperature, and their color. This can create different moods in a room.
If you want to make use of these different effects, a smart bulb is the way to go.
But if you only want to use smart bulbs so you can control them remotely and dim them, a smart switch might work better.
How do I install smart bulbs in my ceiling fan?
Once you have checked that your bulb and ceiling fan are compatible, you can screw the bulb into the fixture.
Then connect the bulb to your phone app or hub. You’ll be able to control it from your phone.
Grouping smart bulbs
If the fixture has space for more than one bulb (like a chandelier fixture), you can screw in multiple bulbs. Connect each bulb to your hub or phone.
If you stop at the point above, you will be able to control each bulb individually using your phone. This will become frustrating when you want to turn the lights on or off in the room.
You can overcome this problem easily by grouping all the bulbs in the fixture.
This can be done in the app you are using to control the bulbs.
Why do my smart bulbs flicker in my ceiling fan?
If your lights are flickering in your ceiling fan, your smart bulbs could get damaged.
There are two main possible reasons for your smart lights flickering in your ceiling fan.
1. The ceiling fan may have a ‘hidden’ dimming feature.
Even if the product description says it has no dimmer, it may have this feature.
In this case, try to hold down certain buttons on the fan remote to disable the dimmer.
Alternatively, you might have to remove the limiting circuit in the fan.
2. If the fan is a newer model, it might have energy-saving features.
The Energy Policy Act requires light fixtures not to use more than a maximum amount of energy. To comply with this act, newer fans have a wattage limiter in line with the lights. This limiter can act like a dimmer.
One option is to remove the wattage limiter from the fan.
Alternatively, you may have to remove some bulbs from the fixture if it is a chandelier. Or you may need to buy bulbs that use less energy (although most LED lights use little energy anyway).
Should I use smart lights in my ceiling fan?
I have discussed the possibility of installing your smart lights in your ceiling fan. But another question arises: should you do it?
Ceiling fans can add to the aesthetic of a room. If you like the look of your ceiling fan, or it has sentimental value, install smart lights into it.
But often ceiling fans can create a cramped feeling in a room. They decrease the experienced height of the room. If they are dark on an otherwise white ceiling, they can also be an eyesore.
Additionally, there are much better ways to cool down a room than with a ceiling fan.
So if you don’t particularly like (or use) your ceiling fan anyway, you might want to just get rid of it. You can replace it with a good-looking chandelier light fixture that can create a whole new vibe in the room.
Home Streamliner’s Take:
Of all the options discussed in this blog post, I most prefer the option lights in a ceiling fan with a smart fan switch.
I would search for a ceiling fan without a dimmer function. These are usually cheaper anyway. I would then use a smart fan switch to be able to control my fan and lights remotely.
That is if I had ceiling fans in my home. I actually prefer the idea of a bright chandelier light in a room cooled with smart air conditioning.
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