DIY: Exhaust Fans with Remote Control Outlets

Early this month, my wife and I moved to Grinstead apartment. We were so grateful that we were finally living on campus!

Now, before we got the apartment, we heard from a Grinstead friend about his concern with the exhaust fan. Apparently, the sound proof quality of the floors is not satisfying. Our friend lives on the 2nd floor. One day, he took a late shower (around 11pm). The brother who lived on the 1st floor came up and knocked at his door. He opened the door. Then what followed made me literally burst into laughter. The 1st floor brother asked: “Are you vacuuming?!”

To be sure, our brother was not making a joke. He was telling a real life story. But it sounded so much like a made up joke on the sound proof quality of the floors. Our poor brother told me that from that day on, he placed a lamp in his bath rooms in order not to disturb the family living on the 1st floor.

Thinking a second time after you laugh, you realize that this is also such a touching story (our friend’s sacrifice for his neighbor), but also a sad one (it brought unnecessary inconvenience to his family).

On the moving in day, I asked the housing staff who lead us into the apartment, “Can we control the exhaust fans in the bath rooms separately?” Her answer was: “I don’t think you can do that.” I think there were good reasons to design the lines in this way. Security was probably the main reason. The maintenance staff of my former apartment renting company told me that I must turn on the fan when taking shower. But when you just want to wash your hands, or you are in my friend’s situation, you may not want to have the fan run at all.

As soon as we moved in, my wife and I found another reason to make the fan run only when we want: We don’t like the noise ourselves either. Sometimes we found the noise annoying.

Later, it was exciting for me to find out that I could actually unplug the fans. But the problem is: we do want them to run when we need them to run.

Finally, an idea came up: how about using remote control outlets?

After examining the outlets for the exhaust fans and the space between the outlet and the cover, I found two problems: 1. The outlets have only two holes, but I couldn’t find any remote control outlets that have only two prongs. All of them have three. 2. Almost all remote control outlets have the holes on the back, but there is not enough space for both the remote control outlet and the fan plug.

Thankfully, both problems were solved!

The 2nd problem could not be solved unless we find a remote control outlet that has the holes on the side. Thank God, after a pages-after-pages reviewing on Amazon, I finally found one! Here is the link if you are interested (I don’t know the owner and I get no profit by introducing it to others).

The 1st problem was not difficult to solve. I believed that I could just unplug the round shape prong.

They were delivered to my apartment today. I started to try this out as soon as I got the package. And it turned out: Yes! I can do it!

Here are the steps:

1. Unscrew the five screws (three outside, two inside) of the remote control outlet.

2. Use tools to pull off the green wire from inside.

3. Use tools to pull off the round shape prong from outside and toward outside. Congratulations! Now you have a remote control outlet with only two prongs!

4. Screw all the screws back (I just left the green wire there. But make sure that the pulled off end does not touch any other metal parts. You don’t want a short circuit).

5. Pull down the exhaust fan cover a little bit. Then pinch the clip that holds the cover to remove it from the hole. If you are not sure how to do it, watch the first 20 seconds of this video (You only need to take off one side of the clip).

6. Unplug the exhaust fan plug from the outlet; then plug in to the remote control outlet; then plug in the remote control plug.


7. Put back the cover the cover. Done!!! (When the fan is on, the remote control light is also on.)

When you need the fan to run, just use the remote control to turn it on (don’t forget that you must turn on the bath room light first and leave it on in order for the remote control to be connected to power).

You also need to know that every time you turn off the bath room light, the next time you turn it on, the remote control will always be in the off mode. It has both advantages and disadvantages. So I’m very happy about it.