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Only Two Wires Coming from Ceiling Electrical Box [Solved]

Only Two Wires Coming from Ceiling Electrical Box

When you buy a new ceiling fan, it will usually come with THREE WIRES.

Problem: Your fan has three wires, but only two are coming from the ceiling’s electrical box to power up the fan via the conduit.

Wires Identification:

Wire ColorCeiling FanWires from DB
Black Live 120V/220V WireLive 120V/220V Wire
White Neutral WireNeutral Wire
Green (W/ Yellow Strips)GroundMISSING

Summary: If you ignore the missing green wire and keep it un-connected, your fan will still work usually, but it can be a slight safety hazard. Not so much since we usually do not touch ceiling fans, and when we do, they are SWITCHED OFF.

Which two wires are always present?

There are two wires that installations in every residential setting have: a live black wire and a white neutral wire. The live wire supplies power to the electrical appliances, while the neutral wire completes the electrical circuit back to the electrical panel.

Both wires carry the same amount of current alternatively. The live wire directs the current toward household appliances and other equipment. On the other hand, the neutral wire conducts the current back to its source.

black live wire and a white neutral wire

Which wire is missing & how important is it?

The missing wire is the ground wire, always GREEN IN COLOR. On the fan side, the wire is usually located at the mounting bracket or originates from the fan motor that needs to be connected to the house’s ground wire with a wire nut.

 ground wire typically green in colour

It is required to provide an alternative path for the current to flow in case of a short circuit or surge.

A fan can be operated without this ground wire, but it won’t be completely safe. This is because the absence of the ground wire indicates that your home has no grounding. Consequently, you are more exposed to getting shocked.

Whenever there is a problem with your plugged-in device, it will energize. As a result, you will get shocked.

Why is the third wire missing?

The third wire is usually missing in older homes built during the 1950s or earlier. They have non-metallic wiring that lacks ground wire. Their installations have two wires and two-pronged outlets.

Even if three-pronged outlets are present, the third slot will be useless if the third (ground) wire is absent, providing no grounding.

Sometimes, the third wire is absent even in newer homes because some contractors ignore grounding and include only live and neutral wires to save money.

But another reason is the ground wire is often intentionally ignored for ceiling fans as we don’t touch them, and typically we turn off the fan before touching it.

How many wires are needed to run a fan?

To run a fan, you need only live and neutral wires. The live wire will bring current towards the fan, while the neutral wire will return the electricity back to the source. As a result, your fan will work.

But there won’t be adequate protection if the third wire is absent. Hence, it’s always recommended to have a grounding mechanism integrated into your home’s electrical system, as it will minimize the risk of serious electric shocks.

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