3 gang box w/2 fan controller?

stie9790November 1, 2012


I'll try to make this as quick as possible: I installed and wired a 3 gang box already. It's a remodel project (gut to studs) so everything was new construction boxes. Drywall is up and painted. The box will have a 3-way switch operating a kitchen ceiling light, a 3-way switch operating the lights of the 2 ceiling fans in the room, and (ideally) the 3rd slot will be for a 3-speed fan control capable of handling 2 fans (2.5A I think most of them are). OK, so perhaps this is simple (I'm a DIY'er) can this fan control fit under a regular 3 switch wall plate somehow? Additionally, is there a specific fan control you'd recommend? I keep seeing those Canarm brand ones which are silver and would stick out like a sore thumb. Ideally it'd just look like a white dimmer switch next to 2 regular switches, but I've heard these "dimmer" switches don't have set speed points. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Anybody...? Anybody...? (echo... crickets...)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 4:57PM
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I looked online a little and it appears you'll probably have to go with a variable speed slider-type fan control.

The problem is that from what I found the largest you'll probably find without getting into commercial style controls is 5 amps.

If the cooling fins won't work in the box and you have to break some off you have to start derating the maximum load. Breaking off two fins may drop you to 3 amps.

Next is the derating for 2 or 3 gang boxes for heat dissipation purposes and you may end up being down to 1.5 amps.

So, if the controller will fit in the box with it's full heatsink, you may be looking at 3 amps max. You'll then need to find fans that don't exceed 1.5 amps each.

I think you may have some work cut out in coming up with right combination. But if you get stuck, you may want to consider remote control fans, or just add-on controllers for non-remote fans, and just put a toggle switch in the box.

Now I got to get back to toasting marshmallows over the campfire and the crickets chirping. :)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Thanks Yosemite. Do you think the Lutron fs-5e will work for my situation? FYI, I haven't chosen fans yet either if that makes a difference at all.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lutron FS-5E

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Yes, that appears it would work for your installation.

I do have to correct what I said about derating the controller again - the original derating is from removing the fins for use in 2 or 3 gang boxes.

A spec sheet I randomly pulled up online was rather poorly written in this regard and appeared to require additional derating - but that would have been with multiple controllers anyhow. I thought about it later said that doesn't sound right, especially since your only using one controller.

Anyway, according to the Lutron spec sheet, if you do have to break off any cooling fins, you do need to derate it at 1 amp per fin.

I would still however recommend purchasing fans that require somewhat less current than the corrected rating of the controller.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 10:15AM
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