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Are Ceiling Fan Remotes Universal?

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Ceiling fan remote controls are an increasingly popular feature for people who don’t want to leave their chairs. Some ceiling fans come with their own remotes. But, if yours didn’t, you might be able to use a universal remote.

If you’re shopping for a universal remote unit for your ceiling fan, you may be wondering if there’s one remote suitable for all ceiling fans. You also might wonder if the more expensive options are more likely to be compatible with your fan.

Let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions, so you can get a better idea of which option is best for you.

Are Ceiling Fan Remotes Universal?

Many ceiling fan remotes claim to be universal but they really aren’t. While many of them work with almost every fan, there are always models that they can’t connect to.

You’ll also want to pay careful attention to the speed options on the remote and the speeds that your fan operates at. Some remotes can connect to most fans, but might not be able to operate at all speeds or in reverse.

One other thing to pay attention to is how the remote connects to your unit. Older remotes connect by way of radio frequency while most modern remotes use an infrared pulse. RF remotes are omnidirectional while IR remotes require direct line-of-sight.

Some remotes can connect either way, but others— including remotes marketed as universal— use only one connection method.

Is There a Universal Ceiling Fan Remote?

Ceiling Fan Remote

People shopping for replacement remote controls for their ceiling fan might find products marketed at universal ceiling fan remotes. So, universal ceiling fan remotes are a real thing.

In reality, however, it will be difficult to find a remote that fits that description because ceiling fans vary greatly.

When you’re pairing a new remote to a ceiling fan, it’s more likely to work if you use a remote from the same manufacturer as your fan. For example, a Hampton Bay remote is easier to connect to a Hampton Bay fan than a general remote would be.

Also, some universal remotes don’t include specific features that your fan may have. For instance, if your fan has a reverse option, you’ll need to find a remote with that feature.

In addition, there are two ways that ceiling fan remote units work. Older models use a radio frequency pulse, while most newer models have an infrared pulse. So, if you have an old ceiling fan that uses RF, you don’t want an IR-only remote.

Some universal remotes will connect to a wide variety of ceiling fans. Make sure that you carefully read both your fan’s manual and the universal remote’s packaging to ensure they’re compatible.

How do You Install a Universal Ceiling Fan Remote?

The great thing about universal remotes is that installation is standard across brands. However, the exact steps might vary from unit to unit. So, you’ll want to follow the manual’s instructions closely.

Safety and preparation is the first step. Get a Phillip’s head screwdriver, a flat-head screwdriver, and a small pair of wire cutters. Since you’re working around electricity, grab your voltmeter if you have one. This tool will help you stay safe.

Make sure you have both manuals at your disposal.

Then, turn the fan on to its fastest speed and turn on the light.

If the fan has a wall switch, flip it off and turn off the power in the breaker box. Since you’re wiring a fixture into your ceiling fan, it’s important to ensure there’s no electricity flowing to it.

Remove the cover. If you have a voltmeter, test the wires to make sure there’s no electricity flowing through them. Then, disconnect the fan blades.

Insert the remote box into the fan using adhesive or two small holes drilled through the top.

Connect the wires from the remote unit to the wires from the fan and the light. Generally, like-colored wires are connected to like-colored wires. If you have any questions, consult your remote unit’s installation instructions.

Replace the fan blades and screw the cover back on.

Finally, put batteries in your new remote and flip the breaker switch back on. If there’s a wall switch, turn that back on as well. Your remote should work.

Can You Use Your Phone as a Universal Ceiling Fan Remote?

Ceiling Fan Remote

Do you want to control your TV with your phone? What about your household heating and cooling units or your stereo? There’s an app for that. There are also several apps to control your ceiling fan remote unit.

Most apps work with your phone’s IR transmitter. So, if your ceiling fan remote unit requires a radio signal, it won’t work.

The other thing you’ll want to remember is that your phone only replaces the handheld part of the remote control unit. If you have a pull chain ceiling fan and haven’t purchased a remote unit, the app won’t do anything.

If you’re interested in the latest tech options, you may want to look into Smart Fans. These fans are connected to a home nest system. These systems allow you to control many of your home appliances from a hub device like Siri or Alexa.


As you can see, there really isn’t such a thing as a universal ceiling fan remote that will work with every fan. That’s because there’s such a large variety of ceiling fans. Some remotes claim to work with the majority of different fans. But, before you buy one, you’ll want to make sure that it’s compatible with the brand, model, and features of your ceiling fan.

Also, some apps claim to replace your ceiling fan remote, but we’d take those with a grain of salt. Not only do you need a remote unit already connected to your ceiling fan, but they also don’t work as well as an actual remote.

We hope this article answered your questions on whether ceiling fan remotes are truly universal and whether you can avoid paying money for one by downloading an app. If you did, we’d encourage you to leave a comment or share this article on social media.

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