Well, There’s 5 Hours I’ll Never Get Back

Well, There’s 5 Hours I’ll Never Get Back

Or:  WHY I HATE MINKA-AIRE SMART RECEIVERS!

If you have Minka-Aire ceiling fans that share the same circuit breaker, here’s the bottom line:  [1] Open the battery compartment of each remote control, adjust the dip-switches so they’re unique from each other.  [2] Kill the circuit breaker for the fans.  [3] Get a ladder and disconnect the green fan remote control receiver from the ceiling electrical box for all fans except one, which I’ll call the 1st.  [4] Turn the circuit breaker back on, run up to where the 1st fan is, push “stop” on the remote control for 10 seconds to lock that dip switch frequency to that fan.  [5] Kill power to the circuit breaker.  [6] Disconnect the 1st fan from the ceiling electrical box.  [7] Connect the 2nd fan to the ceiling electrical box.  [8] Repeat steps 4 & 5 with that fan.  [8] Continue until all fans have been done.

So basically, one fan needs to be connected to power at any given time while the rest are disconnected, in order to program the “smart receivers”.  They were obviously not designed for fans that share a circuit breaker.


Our 3 fans each came with a remote control and a remote control “smart receiver”.  The receiver looks like a green bug:

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One side gets wired to the ceiling electrical box, and the other side gets wired to the fan motor, up near the ceiling.  The receiver is hidden under the ceiling cap once the fan is fully installed.  Power runs from the ceiling wires, through the receiver, and down into the fan.  When you click a button on the remote, it sends a message to the receiver which tells the fan what to do.  Our fans don’t have pull cords or wall switches – they are operated solely by remote control.

6 weeks ago I installed the bedroom fan, 4 weeks ago I installed the girl cave fan, and 3 weeks ago I installed the living room fan.  We noticed pretty fast that each time I installed a new fan, the remote control for the new fan overrode the remotes for any previously installed fans.  Since I installed the living room fan last, the living room fan remote now controlled the living room fan, the girl cave fan, and the master bedroom fan.  Bitch!  Apparently this is because of “frequency interference”.  Here’s what the manual says to do:

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[1] adjust the “dip-switches” on the remote control, [2] turn off power to the fan, [3] turn power back on, [4] within 60 seconds of power being turned back on, press the “stop” button on the remote for 10 seconds while pointing it at the fan.  This will apparently “lock in” the frequency of each remote control with it’s corresponding fan receiver.

In case you don’t know what dip-switches are [I didn’t], they’re on the back of the remote in the same compartment as the battery, and look like this:

82e minka-aire ceiling fan remote smart receivers suck - closeup of dip switches        minka-aire ceiling fan remote smart receivers suck - closeup of dip switches

There’s 256 distinct frequency combinations, defined by which dip-switches are up vs. down.  We set the dip-switches on all 3 remotes to different frequency combinations.

Then we tried what I’ll call the “ALL FANS AT ONCE” plan:

Hubby stood in the upstairs hallway with the girl cave remote and the bedroom fan remote.  I ran down to the basement, killed power to the circuit breaker for all 3 fans [circuit breaker #5], counted to 20, flipped it back on, and ran back upstairs.  I grabbed the living room fan remote, held “stop” and pointed it at the fan.  Hubby did the same upstairs with the girl cave and bedroom fans.  Then we each tried to operate our respective fans.  The living room fan remote turned on the living room fan, but apparently also turned on the upstairs fans, and the upstairs fan remotes continued to do nothing.

Face palm.

Then we regrouped and tried the “ONE FAN AT A TIME” plan:

I ran down to the basement, killed power to circuit breaker #5, counted to 20, flipped it back on, yelled up to hubby and he pointed the master bedroom remote at the fan while holding “stop” for 10 seconds.  Then he tested the remote and it worked for the bedroom fan!  Success!!!  So I killed power to circuit #5 again, counted to 20, flipped it back on, and he moved into the girl cave and held “stop” for 10 seconds.  He tested that remote, and it worked!  But then he tried the bedroom fan remote, and it did nothing.  The girl cave remote now controlled all 3 fans.

#^%*@!!!

Hubby did some online research and some consultation of the instruction manual regarding remote controls.  His conclusion [since the manual mentions the frequency of both the “transmitter” and the “receiver”] was that I had overlooked dip-switches on the remote control receivers while installing them at the ceiling, and we’d simply have to take the receivers down and match the receiver dip-switch settings to the remote control dip-switch settings.  Sounded logical to me, although I had read that Minka-Aire “Smart Receivers” don’t have dip-switches… but I decided to roll with hubby’s theory.

So the following day, I killed power to circuit breaker #5, hauled my ladder into the living room, disconnected the receiver from the ceiling and the fan, and handed it to hubby.  He inspected every square inch – even opened it up to look inside at the circuit board – no dip-switches.  Gah!  I was so frustrated I put everything back and called it a weekend.

For the next few days, I did MORE research on Minka-Aire “Smart Receivers” [which I was starting to hate at this point].  It seems that in houses or facilities with more than one Minka-Aire fan [of the same model?] you have to disconnect power from each FAN – like at the ceiling – not just at the breaker.  And then do the point-and-hold-“stop” on the remote control thing with each fan, one by one, while the other 2 are disconnected.  AKA:  connect one, disconnect 2.  Reconnect one, disconnect another.  Round robin until all 3 have been connected to power while the other 2 are disconnected.  Are you KIDDING ME???

So a few days later, on a Wednesday after work, I got a burst of energy and embarked on the “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” plan.  I had 2 hours before kick boxing and figured it would take an hour max:

Run down to basement & kill power to circuit breaker #5.  Haul 40 pound ladder into living room, climb up & disconnect fan from ceiling.  Haul ladder upstairs to girl cave, climb up & disconnect fan from ceiling.  The master bedroom fan is now the only one connected to power:

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Run down 2 flights of stairs to basement, flip power back on, run back up 2 flights to master bedroom, grab remote, and hold “stop” for 10 seconds while pointing it at fan.  Run back down 2 flights, kill power, run back up 2 flights & reconnect girl cave fan to ceiling power.  Haul ladder into master bedroom, extend to max length to reach scarily-high fan nested in vaulted ceiling, climb up, & disconnect fan from ceiling.  The girl cave fan is now the only one connected to power:

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Run down 2 flights to basement, flip power back on, run back up 2 flights to girl cave, grab remote, and hold “stop” for 10 seconds while pointing it at fan.  Haul ladder back into girl cave, climb up & disconnect fan from ceiling.  Now all 3 fans are disconnected.  Haul ladder downstairs to living room, climb up, & connect fan to ceiling.  The living room fan is now the only one connected to power:

72d

Run down to basement, flip power back on, run back up to living room, grab remote, and hold “stop” for 10 seconds while pointing it at fan.  Run back down to basement, kill power, head back up to living room, grab 40 pound ladder and haul it back upstairs to girl cave.  Climb up & reconnect fan to ceiling.  Haul ladder back into master bedroom, re-extend to max length to reach scarily-high fan nested in vaulted ceiling, climb up & reconnect fan to ceiling.   Now all 3 fans are re-connectedPHEW

As a final step, run back down to basement, turn power back on, and head back upstairs to relish in the success of each fan having it’s own working remote.  Except that’s not what happened.  The living room remote, once again, controlled all three fans…

#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!!!

So, after TWO HOURS of running up & down stairs and ladders, hauling my 40 pound ladder around and extending it up and down [which is a lot of work on the arms!], I was a complete sweaty mess and no closer to solving the problem of the remote controls.  I was SO pissed off.  I wanted to throw the smart receivers into the river and maniacally laugh as they floated away.  Instead, I went to kick-boxing and worked out most of my aggression.  When I got home, I explained my dilemma to hubby.  He assessed the situation, and in a very logical, calm voice said “so… when you were up on the ladder, did you disconnected power from the receivers, or just from the fans?  Is there a chance the receivers were still connected to the ceiling power?”

Me:  stunned silence.  Followed by:

#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!!!
#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!!!
#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!#^%*@!!!

Hubby hugged me and said “next weekend, together, we’ll go through the whole song and dance routine AGAIN, and disconnect the receivers from power, and get the fans and remotes working properly”.  He’s awesome.  But OMFG!!!  I want to punch whoever connected our 3 fans to the same circuit breaker.  Obviously it’s not a common thing, or Minka-Aire wouldn’t have made “Smart Receivers”.   Smart receivers + lazy electrician = lots of #^%*@ angst.

I do feel slightly thankful, though.  My life mantra is “it could always be worse” and every day I remember to be thankful for all the things I DO have, like a roof over my head, an awesome husband, a great job, food in the pantry, a car that works, warm clothes for winter, etc.  When I was researching “Smart Receivers” I came across a couple of far worse situations:  One man lives in a housing complex.  Each unit has a Minka-Aire fan, but they all share the same circuit, so the remote in one unit controls the fans in ALL the units.  The man’s fan turns on and off all willy-nilly, so he does his best to just ignore it.  Another man lives with his son in a condo.  They each have a Minka-Aire fan in their bedroom, but they share a circuit and the son’s remote controls both.  So the man will be sound asleep, then jolted awake as his fan powers up when his son gets home at 2am.  He doesn’t know how to do basic electrical, and doesn’t want to pay for an electrician to come fix it, so he’s SOL [he needs to find himself a DIY wifey!].

So it could be worse.  It could always be worse.  deep breaths

So 2 weekends ago I spent THREE hours going through the entire process all over again, but this time disconnecting the receiver from the ceiling, which is a lot more work than disconnecting the receiver from the fan, since it means accessing the brittle copper wires in the ceiling box, using all my strength to pry them down from the ceiling box, and dealing with electrical tape, and fan receiver wires that pull away from the wire cap & electrical tape when I’m trying to shove the whole mess back up into the ceiling box.  So all told, I spent FIVE HOURS of my life trying to fix a stupid problem that would have been a piece of cake if the receivers were dumb and had dip-switches I could match to the remote control dip-switches.  That’s how ceiling fan receivers worked up until recently.  Much better solution than “Smart Receivers” for people who’s fans operate on the same circuit breaker!!!  At least it’s finally DONE.

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

UPDATE 7/11/2018:

It’s been about 4 years since I wasted 5 hours of my life.  All 3 fans are still working awesomely, each with it’s own remote.  So if you’re able to follow my instructions, it’s WORTH THE AGGRAVATION to have each fan controlled by it’s own remote.  But I still hate Minka-Aire Smart Receivers!!!

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32 Comments

  1. Catherine

    Thanks for your story. I could completely sympathize with your experience because we have 4 Minka-aire fans in 4 rooms. I need to add one more observation: you might need to repeat the two-person, up-and-down process again if you have a power outage!

    I have another persistent problem and I’m hoping that maybe some smart readers here could come up with some solutions. Two out of the four remotes seem to drain battery alarmingly quick. I have tried different brands with similar result. Currently, I installed a A23 from Amazon less than a week ago, and the battery is dead again!

    By the way, that’s the other gripe I have with the smart engineers from Minka-aire. Why couldn’t they just design a remote with a AAA or AA battery? I’m starting to suspect these are a bunch of sadistic people who hate all human beings.

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      Thanks, Catherine! I feel your pain! Wow that really sucks about the batteries. I’m not sure what would cause that. I don’t think we’ve ever had to change the batteries in our remotes since I installed the fans! Thankfully we’ve been through some power outages (that doesn’t sound right) and the fans all came right back on and worked fine with each remote afterwards. I hope to never have to reset them again!

  2. Tom Keegan

    Well, I spoke too soon ☹️, the minka aire fan nightmare continues. The first two fans are up and I was able to successfully change/save the frequency settings so that they both run independently. So that’s good. But I installed the third fan today and with power off to the first two fans, when power comes on to the third fan, the fan runs at full speed, it doesn’t reset after pressing and holding stop, the fan won’t turn off, it won’t change speeds and the light can’t be turned on. It’s all or nothing. Anybody have any ideas?
    Thanks!

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      OMG! That’s a total nightmare!!!
      Sometimes our fans won’t respond to the remote. It happens sporadically. I usually have to just keep pushing all the buttons on the remote (slow/medium/fast/stop) in no specific order until finally the fan listens. One time I had to cut the circuit breaker to make the living room fan stop. After I switched the breaker back on the fan was back to “off” and responded fine to the remote.
      I feel your pain!

  3. Tom Keegan

    I couldn’t resist, I had to go try it right away tonight and not wait til morning. It worked and it took me about 3 minutes to solve it (I have the wall control with the power switch), thanks to info you shared. Thanks again!

  4. Tom Keegan

    Well, it looks like it was 6 years ago or so since you posted this ordeal with your minka aire fans and you are still solving problems for people out here! I haven’t put your lessons to work yet, but after installing 2 fans today and trying to solve the one fan controlling the other for a few hours today, I am now looking forward to going after it again with renewed energy tomorrow. Thank you for the education and thank you for sharing!

  5. Janet Schexnayder

    THANK YOU so much for these instructions! From the Minka/Del Mar Fans website, I thought I would have to get on a ladder to flip those little dip switches on the receiver inside the housing at the junction box. I followed your procedure and flipped only the dipswitches on the remote and my fan is working fine. I will not buy any more remote ceiling fans for this house, to avoid the interference problems that you had on your single circuit.

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      Thanks for your comment, Janet!
      You can get more fans if they will be on a separate circuit breaker from the one you just installed, or if they’re a different brand. But if they are Minka fans & share a circuit breaker that’s where the trouble starts!

  6. Flash69

    I’m a little confused as to why you are flipping breakers? If the fan came with a wall controller, just flip the switch on the wall controller to off on all the fans then flip on the fan you want to program only. Perform the same process on the others. If it didn’t come with a wall controller, surely you have wall switches to turn the fans on and off. Turn off the wall switch to all fans then turn on to the on you want to program then perform the same process on the others.

    My electrician left all 7 of my Minka Aire fans on the same dip settings so one remote controlled them all. He also mis-wired one so I had to get out my 17′ ladder to fix it at the ceiling.

    It took me about 5 minutes to properly program all 7 fans either by flipping the wall switches or the wall controller switches depending upon what each fan came with.

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      Hello, Flash! Thank you for the comment! Our fans are only controlled by the remotes, we do not have wall controllers or switches. I wish we did! I am glad you were able to fix what your electrician did wrong!

  7. Tyler

    Thank you so much for this write up. I was only able to get mine programmed with a deviation. I had to turn on the wall switch first then hold down the stop button. Just turning on the circuit breaker to the fan would not program it properly. Probably a weird way mine was installed. Anyway, THANKS!

  8. Clare

    Great post – thank you! I have the same problem – 2 matching Minka Aire fans in the Great Room on one circuit. I tried multiple times to fix this. Had an electrician to take a look and try – no joy. In the end, because they’re in the same large room, I compromised and have the one remote to control both fans at once. I’m glad you got yours to work, and that I’m not the only one with this issue. I do wonder one thing – if there’s a power outage, does everything go back to factory setting and the whole process be repeated again??
    Also, I’m wondering if having wall switches instead (nor remotes) will solve the problem…

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      It’s such a frustrating issue, isn’t it? So many hours wasted! We have had a power outage (at least one) since I hooked up the fans, and they did not revert to factory settings (phew!). So once you get them working independently, seems they’re good to go for life. It’s just getting them to that point! As far as the wall switch, one of our fans is on a wall switch, and we have to turn the switch on before the remote will work. So the wall switch doesn’t start the fan, it just has to be on or the remote won’t work. The other 2 fans aren’t connected to switches. So unfortunately that won’t fix your problem, although an electrician might know a way around that.

  9. Cindy Cox

    I have four of these fans in my house. We have already three out of the four light kits at $75.00 each. Now I can’t get the light to work with the remote on one of them. On another fan, neither the light or fan will work with the remote. I have tried resetting the frequency. Nothing has worked. I HATE THESE FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Jim

        I was able to do it over the weekend. Fortunately the 2 fans are on 2 diff breakers. I had a little prob because i didnt know if it was the light buttons or the fan buttons. On the second try, whatever i was pushing worked. Also didnt know if i had to press the button and let it go and then press again. I got it and hope to never haver to do it again. Now i know to check the dip switches before. You are amazing! Thanks again!

  10. Trish

    Thank you so much for all your work in documenting this ordeal. I was in love with my fan (although I noticed it would turn on in the afternoons by itself, occasionally) until last night when no button on the remote would prompt the fan to run. The battery was fine…I was perplexed. Today I ventured into the world of dip switches. I see 8 on my remote and I’m about to get up on that ladder to see if there are any in the receiver…wish me luck!

      1. RT

        Thank you for this incredibly detailed post!!! I have a Minka Aire in the kitchen with a wall switch and a Minka in a bedroom with a wall switch and a remote. Will I be able to use both the wall switch and the remote in the bedroom, or do I have to sacrifice one for the other? My Electrician is coming over again today to resolve the RF issue. With his electrical background, will he intuitively know where the ceiling receiver is located, or are there other details that I can provide to him to find it?

        1. Hi RT! Thanks for your comment. I hope your electrician figured it out! Since we don’t have wall switches, only remotes, I don’t know the answer. Yes, any electrician should know where the ceiling receivers are on ceiling fans. Sorry for the late reply… let me know if your issues are resolved!

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