Switching External Downlights from Ceiling Fan

Hi all,

I need to retrofit a ceiling fan to a location that only has one circuit currently controlling some LED downlights. We can't run an extra wire for the ceiling fan, so I was wondering if it was possible to switch those downlights using a remote controlled fan.

My idea is that the switch for the circuit would stay on and we would use the remote to turn on/off the fan and the downlights separately. I'm thinking I would need a relay from the fan's LED output to the downlights.

Does anyone know if something like this would work? Are the LEDs usually built into ceiling fans 12V?

Thanks for your help.


  • The Fan will still have 2 wires I think

    We just had a light replaced with a ceiling fan and the electrician had to run another wire still, one for the fan and one for the light.

    Both switches stay on and you use the remote to turn on the fan and light separately.

  • -1 vote

    Switching External Downlights from Ceiling Fan

    Sounds dangerous.

    I'd just use a ladder if I was you… (and a licensed electrician…)

  • I think if you get a DC fan (the expensive ones) with the remote you can run those on the original lighting circuit and just use the remote to control the fan. That's what my electrician said recently. I wanted wall controls though to keep things simple for the long term, so that required a new circuit. I'm not sure about an AC fan with remote.

    Using a fan to control the current down-lights though is a very odd request and you would need to discuss that with your own electrician. I dare say the cost of finding a safe and legal way to do it may make it nonviable for you.

    All household lights are 240V AC. Including your current downlights no doubt. If a light runs at a lower DC voltage (like LEDs) they will have their own transformer. An electrician won't take a 12V DC out from a fan and put it to a 240V AC input to a downlight. Likewise using a relay out with the 12V switching may not be AS3000 compliant - I have no idea. There is the chance that the fan would have a switching 240V AC out to use for the light, which may make this feasible… but you need your electrician to check this and be comfortable with the compliance of this with the particular fan you choose.

  • Most downlights these days just plug into a standard power point in the ceiling. So I'd consider something like this:


    So your lights and fan are all activated by the same switch but you can then turn off your lights via your phone or via OK Google/Alexa etc.

    Trying to wire it all up to one is going to be a nightmare. Do-doable no doubt but no electrician will touch it.

  • What you are asking for is technically possible, but you're not going an electrician that would do it for you, as it would require reverse engineering the fan circuit, and probably can not be made compliant.

    My suggestion would be to go for smart downlights or an inline smart switch. Then use an app or physical smart switch to control them.

  • out of interest why cant you run an additional cable to the light switch?
    I'm assuming it wasn't electrician that told you this or they would have suggested an alternative.

    if you only have a twin at the light switch you'll have a hard active at ( or near) the light fitting, use that non switched active for your remote control fan and light and leave the downlights alone on the original switch…

    please use a licensed electrician and actually check their license online in NSW it is :

    don't mess about with it yourself, its all "easy" and "fine" until something goes wrong. :)

    • Thanks for the reply. I’m not planning on doing this myself, but I want to make sure I’m getting a decent outcome, not just whatever is easiest for the sparky.

      This is an outdoor area so we definitely don’t have any hard actives near the light fittings.

      I think I’ll replace the lights with smart lights and be done with it.

      • smart lights are an option but there are other options, such as a "wireless" light switches that you can use to switch whatever you like, its very difficult to know what would work best in your situation, but hopefully you get a good sparky to help out :)

        the active for the light fitting will either be at the switch or at a fitting, but another option may be to use a power circuit if there is one near to power the fan, and if it is a remote fan / light use the remote to control that and leave the lights as they are.

        have a chat with your electrician as there's usually a way to get that second cable to the switch (unless its in render or panelling / totally stuck in place) especially as its external.