How to Reverse Ceiling Fan Direction – No Switch (Answered)


Your ceiling fan should turn clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer – either pushing warm air away from the ceiling or creating a cooling breeze. Changing the direction of your ceiling fan could reduce your energy bill and increase the comfort of your home.

However, many brands use their own mechanism to reverse the direction of the ceiling fan. That means your ceiling fan might not have a switch. Instead, you might need the remote control, you might have a switch on the housing assembly, and you might have an invisible switch on the remote. 

How to Reverse Ceiling Fan Direction (No Switch)

Almost all ceiling fans have a reverse switch on the motor. Normally, this switch is located on the housing next to the pull cable or near a plug on the casing behind the blades. However, very old ceiling fans might not have a reverse switch. Instead, these ceiling fans have adjustable blades, allowing you to change the pitch of the blade. Setting a left pitch pushes air down and a right pitch pushes air up. Therefore, you can achieve the same result as reversing the blades.

There are two instances in which you might not have a switch on your fan housing:

  • The fan is very old and the blades come off or adjust left or right.
  • You received a remote with the fan and it doesn’t have a visible switch on the casing. Here, there’s likely still a switch under the fan cup or in the casing.

Checking for a Switch

Almost every fan has a switch on the housing. Therefore, you can take a few minutes to do a quick check of the housing to make sure you haven’t missed it. Here, you’ll want to get a step ladder so you can access the fan.

Tip: Turn the ceiling fan off and allow the blades to stop turning naturally. Make sure the switch is in the off direction. If the ceiling fan has a pull cord, tuck it up out of the way so you don’t accidentally pull it while inspecting the housing.

  1. Check the outside of the fan casing, especially around a pull cord. Often, these are located in between two screws, which are used to hold the switch in place.
  2. Use a screwdriver to remove the cup (the cover on the bottom of the fan) and check under that.
  3. If your ceiling fan is older than about 20 years, check to see if the blades either adjust to the left or right or if they pull off to be flipped around.
  4. You might also want to use a screwdriver to take the housing off the top of the fan. However, depending on the model, this might require taking the blades off.

If you do find either a horizontal or vertical switch, you can simply push it in the opposite direction to reverse the direction of the fan. If you don’t, you might have a remote somewhere.

Using a Remote

If you bought your ceiling fan with a remote, chances are, the manufacturer intended for you to use the remote to change the direction. If you no longer have the remote, look it up based on the make and model of the ceiling fan and order a new one. However, even a ceiling fan with a remote may have a reverse switch inside the housing.

Here, there are several options:

  • Your remote has a visible reverse switch which you can simply push.
  • Your remote has a programmed series of buttons to hold to reverse the fan.
  • You’ve purchased a cheap fan and may have to disassemble the remote to access the reverse contact.

Opening Your Remote: 

  1. Undo the small screw (usually Phillips #1) in the remote and take the facing off.
  2. Look for the contact just under the On/Off button
  3. Press that contact

Reversing Fan Direction for Specific Brands

Many fans use custom operation sequences to reverse the direction of the fan. Unfortunately, this can vary quite a bit between the make and model of the fan.

Minka Aire

Minka Aire fans come with a wall switch with speed controls and a reverse switch. In most cases, they also come with a remote control. If you no longer have the original wall operational switch or the remote control, you can either look on the housing for a slide switch or buy a new full function remote control from Minka Aire.

Otherwise, the only option is to open the housing and adjust the wiring. Here, you’ll want to make sure that you turn your fan off. Then, turn the circuit supplying power to that room of the house off. Open the housing. You’ll see black and white wires. You can simply reverse these to reverse the direction of the fan.

Hunter

If your Hunter ceiling fan doesn’t have a remote switch on the fan body, you can change the direction using the remote. Here, you’ll want to turn the fan on and then press and hold the fan button or the wall control until the control light blinks.

Some Hunter ceiling fan models also want you to turn the fan on high before doing this. In either case, the control light should blink to indicate the fan is reversing.

Hampton Bay

Most Hampton Bay ceiling fans feature a switch on the casing. In addition, many come with remotes with either a “reverse” or a “rev/” button. However, in some lower-end models, the remotes came without a reverse button. Luckily, the contact is still there inside the remote. You’ll just have to open the remote up to access it.

You’ll need a screwdriver and a spudger or a scraping tool.

  • Make sure the fan is on.
  • Unscrew the small screws (usually 2) holding the back of the remote on.
  • Remove the battery.
  • Pull the circuit board out of the remote.
  • Look for the part of the circuit board to the upper left of the power button. It should be two contact points above a contact labelled R11.
  • Put the battery back in.
  • Use your screwdriver to depress the two points. You should hear a click and the ceiling fan should reverse.

Unfortunately, this issue comes from the fact that Hampton Bay used a cheaper remote control model for some of its fans. These do not have a reverse switch.

Harbor Breeze

Harbor Breeze always has a reverse or For/Rev button on its remote controls. In addition, most Harbor Breeze fans work with universal remotes. Therefore, if you’ve lost your remote and can’t reverse the fan, you can buy a replacement remote to fix the issue.

Can I Reverse My Ceiling Fan Direction with No Fan and No Remote?

If you don’t want to buy a replacement remote for your ceiling fan, you can always use the wiring to reverse the direction of the fan. Here, it’s important to keep in mind that you should never do this with a fan that still has a warranty as you will void the warranty.

  • Check that your fan is off and turn off the circuit breaker for the room for extra safety if you can do so
  • Use a stepstool to access the ceiling fan. You may want to remove blades to make the housing more accessible
  • Undo the screws holding the housing in place and remove them
  • Find the control unit in the fan. There should be four wires. Here, you can ignore all but the black and white. Reverse these. If they are soldered on, you can either cut them and wire them in reverse in the middle or re-solder them. However, cutting them and installing an electrical connector on each wire will make this process faster next time you go to reverse the fan.
  • With the black and white wires reversed, your fan should run in the opposite direction. Make sure there are no loose wires and that the fan housing is out of the way. Turn the fan on to test it.
  • If all is operating as expected, turn the fan back off and replace the housing.

Unfortunately, this method can be difficult if you have limited mobility or if your fan is very difficult to get open. In this case, you might either want to order a new remote or hire a technician to do the work for you. In addition, some fans have a different switch wiring diagram, if you don’t see four wires, you may want to look up your specific fan’s wiring before moving forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions about reversing your ceiling fan, these answers should help.

Do all ceiling fans have a reverse switch?

No. However, almost all modern ceiling fans have a reverse switch. If your ceiling fan is very old, it may have reversible blades instead. Here, you can adjust the blades to the left or the right to get the same effect. On the other hand, you may have a switch inside the ceiling fan housing. In addition, some very low-end modern ceiling fans might not have a switch, especially if they’re about 10-15 years old. If you buy a new one, it will almost certainly have the switch in place.

My ceiling fan won’t reverse direction?

If your ceiling fan won’t reverse direction, it may mean the switch is broken. However, you may also have to use the wall switch or the remote while the fan is off, while the fan is on high, or while the fan is on low. Different manufacturers use different mechanisms to try to avoid people accidentally pushing the button, so either check your owner’s manual or look up your fan. If you think the switch itself is broken, you can try manually reversing the wiring instead.

Where is the reverse switch on my ceiling fan?

Almost all ceiling fans have a switch on the housing or the cap. This is normally next to the pull cord if your fan has one. If not, it’s normally on a side of the cap between two screws.

To Finalize

Most modern ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction. However, if you’re unlucky, yours doesn’t. The reverse mechanism may be on the remote, on the wall switch, or worse, hidden away inside a remote that doesn’t have a reverse button. Good luck figuring out what your fan needs to reverse it.

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