The answer depends on the fan you buy. If the fan comes with pull chains to operate the fan and light, then the best solution is to purchase a universal hand held remote control or wall control. The remote wall control type operates from a radio frequency (do not buy one that uses infra-red) and do not require that you run an additional wire.
For this to work, there is a remote receiver unit supplied with the control (if you buy it that way) that gets wired into the canopy of the fan at the ceiling. Some ceiling fans cannot accommodate the receiver, so it will not work. If this is the case, you are going to need to run an extra wire if you want to operate the fan and light separately.
It is my recommendation that you always purchase a control from the same brand as the fan so that you can be sure it is compatible. Also, most manufacturers will void the warranty of your fan if you use a different brand of control.
If you have not purchased your fan yet, use the resource below to find a fan that comes with a wall control that does not require an extra wire. To make your life easier, just call the phone number while you are browsing the site and someone will help you find such a fan that is perfect for your application (and fits your budget) in a matter of minutes.
Answer provided by: Greg Tillotson
Webmaster for Hansen Wholesale
Ceiling Fan Expert online since 1994