March 17


Can Bathroom Fans And Lights Be On The Same Switch?

By Robin Hatch

March 17, 2022

Operating the fan and lights on the same switch can solve several problems and prevent future difficulties, so you may want to do it even if your bathroom has two switches. Condensation from hot water produces mold and can shorten the life of light fixtures and bulbs, but the water will not condense if the fan takes the vapor out before it has a chance. 

Connecting your bathroom fan and light on the same switch is an effective way to avoid both. Besides, it also allows you to add a fan to a bathroom that would otherwise be unable to have one, which is beneficial because code now demands them.

Can bathroom fans and light be on the same switch? Yes. You may operate your bathroom fan by connecting it to the same switch as your lights.

Read on to learn more about the benefits, how to wire it, etc. 

Is It Better To Have a Light And Bathroom Fan On The Same Switch?

These days, code generally demands a fan in bathrooms, but you may only have one switch. Or you may have two switches but prefer one to operate both.

Whatever the case, this type of arrangement is a great idea. If someone is in the bathroom, it’s fair to presume the light is turned on. And keeping the fan running is the most effective way to keep mold from forming in the bathroom. 

How To Wire Your Fan And Light Switch In a Bathroom

If you already have lights and a fan on two switches, connect the bathroom fan and light to one of them.

If you already have lights and a fan on two switches, mark the wires coming off each switch, disconnect them from the switches, and remove the light switches. Connect the equivalent wires with wire nuts while adding a fresh piece of wire long enough to reach the switch you wish to activate. This new cable is known as a pigtail.

Purchasing a new 20-amp switch will be a great idea. Connect the pigtails to the new switch and disconnect the old fan. You might want to replace it with an outlet.

Connect the bathroom fan and light to a single switch if you don’t have a bathroom fan yet.

There are black and white cables on your light fixture, likewise in your fan. Install the fan near the light fixture, then run the black and white wires from the fan to the light fixture’s electrical box.

From the electrical panel, turn off the power to the bathroom. Remove the wire nut from the bundle of black wires and tie the black wire from the fan into it. Remove the wire nut and replace it. Carry on with the white wires in the same manner.

Replace the light switch as well for safety’s sake. Instead of the 75-cent 15-amp switch you probably have, get a 20-amp switch, which shouldn’t cost much more than $5. You don’t want the light switch to overheat due to the load, resulting in an electrical fire. 

In the bathroom, using energy-efficient lamps will also lessen the strain on the switch. Other issues can be resolved by replacing the switch.

Wire a light and a fan to a new switch.

Find the switch cable, which should be glued through the top or side of the fan or lightbox. Remove one inch of insulation from the ends of the black and white wires with wire strippers. Cover the black fan cable, the black light wire, and the black switch wire with black tape.

The white wires should be connected in the same way. The ground wires should also be connected in the same way. You don’t have to cover the ground wires if you splice them, but it’s still a good idea because the lid keeps them together.

Install the fan, turn it on, and place it in the switch compartment.

The black fan wire should be connected to the lower terminal of the switch, while the live circuit cable must be connected to the higher terminal. Collect and cover the white wires. Then Connect the ground wires to the green ground screw on the switch by twisting them together.

 Additional Tips

  • Turn off the light and fan circuit control switch. This is the most crucial step in any household wiring procedure. Even after the circuit breaker has been turned off, it is a great idea to use a voltage checker to check the cable connections before working with them.
  • Bathrooms are moist and can consume a significant amount of energy. This necessitates unique wiring requirements. Everything must be considered, from watertight lighting fixtures in bathing areas to appropriate ventilation and safety for GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets.
  • Bathroom Circuits: A 20-amp, GFCI-protected circuit for the receptacles and a 15-amp general lighting circuit for the switches, light fixtures, and vent fan are included in a basic wiring layout for a bathroom.

Lighting and receptacles must be on separate circuits in some regions so that the lights do not go out if a receptacle tripped the circuit breaker. In the other areas, lighting, receptacles, and a typical vent fan can all be installed on a single 20-amp circuit as long as the circuit solely serves the bathroom and no other rooms.

The vent fan must have a 20-amp circuit if it contains a built-in heater. Because it only serves one appliance or fixture, this circuit is called “dedicated.” Dedicated circuits may be required for heat lamps, wall heaters, and other built-in heating appliances.

Contact your local building department to learn about the bathroom wiring standards in your region.

What About Bathroom Fans With Lights?

Besides everything discussed above, getting your bathroom exhaust fan and light switched on simultaneously is possible if the light is integrated into the exhaust fan as a single unit. 

A bathroom exhaust fan with a light is a dual-purpose fan that removes moisture from your bathroom while also serving as a light fixture.

The light can be the only source of illumination in the bathroom or used in conjunction with another light fixture. Because the space is limited in a bathroom with a water closet (enclosed toilet), it is typical to have a bathroom fan and light in one unit.

Advantages Of Using Bathroom Exhaust Fan With Light

If you need extra light in your bathroom, installing a bathroom vent fan with a light is a great option. This is a wonderful opportunity to add more lighting to the bathroom without opening a second hole in the ceiling. You’ll be doing electrical wiring and maybe tearing out the ceiling.

Most bathroom vent fans are rather boring. So the addition of light can dramatically improve the appearance of a room.

Since most of these bathroom exhaust fans don’t come with light bulbs, We recommend replacing them with energy-efficient LED bulbs that can be plugged into any standard socket and fit most bathroom exhaust fans.

But, it’s essential to always double-check with the manufacturer to ensure that an LED will fit. The majority of bathroom exhaust fan lights are between 50 and 100 watts.

Is It Possible To Install Bath Fans With Lights Over a Shower?

If you wish to put a light above a shower or tub, your bathroom exhaust fan must be rated for that use by the manufacturer.

Bathroom fans rated for usage directly above showers are designed to be safe in these moist places because water and electricity don’t mix.

These wet-rated exhaust fans must be connected to GFCI-protected electrical circuits (at the panel box or dedicated wall reset). GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, which means that it will turn off the electricity if it detects a problem. You don’t want to get shocked while showering.

Many bathroom fans are rated for usage over wet areas (always double-check with the manufacturer), but ensure your electrical circuit is GFCI-protected. The breaker for the bathroom fan at the panel box will have a button that says “GFCI.”

Bathroom Fan Installation

With a ground fault circuit interrupter, fans are often installed on the ceiling in the middle of the room or, depending on the model, immediately over the shower or bathtub (GFCI protected).

The fan can also be mounted on the bathroom wall, although this method is less efficient because heat and moisture rise.

If the toilet is cramped, you should also think about installing a fan there. Ductwork is vented to the outside and concealed in the ceiling, attic, or crawl space. Ductwork must be constructed horizontally with a small downward slant to allow any stored water to drain off readily if condensation occurs.

To prevent heat loss, you should properly insulate your ventilation system and use caulk. Also, existing plumbing and electrical work may impact the ducting’s path if your fan installation is part of a renovation project. 

However, we strongly advise that you hire a master electrician to install your new fan unless you have extensive electrical competence.

Robin Hatch

About the author

For over a decade, Robin has been a real estate agent, interior design specialist, and mother. Through her trials and tribulations, she wanted to create the perfect website to help you save money and make your home look beautiful.

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