Can this 5-position switch be replaced with a rheostat?

A couple of our ceiling fans are controlled with these funky, 5-position, slider switches. Can they be replaced with a rheostat-type fan switch?

How many wires come out of this switch?

I would say yes, as both switches are limiting power to the fan by the same mechanism.

There are 2x, black wires coming from it.

Seems likely. Those switches can usually be interchanged with rheostat dimmers.

Thanks, everyone.

Also, does this 5-position switch function like a rheostat, just that the resistance/adjustment is step-wise instead of infinite?

One caution with fan switches: When you turn it on, you want to turn it on to the max, and then turn it down if desired after it gets up to speed. Getting up to speed is when a fan works hardest, and it puts extra wear on the motor to do so at low power. That’s why fans have the switches they do, with “Max” right next to “Off”.

Yep, pretty much in a nutshell.

I know I’m “that guy” when it comes to giving warnings when they are not necessary, but I’ll do it anyway.

A rheostat unit would probably work fine, since it introduces simple resistance, but modern LIGHT dimmers don’t work that way. They usually shut the current off and on again to make the light dimmer. Otherwise, they would produce a lot of waste heat and use more energy than necessary. A unit that operates in this manner may or may not work well with your fan motor.

Thanks, ZonexandScout; that’s good to know. Not unnecessary, I would think.

I assume this concern would be mitigated by ensuring that I get a switch that is specifically designed for fans.

Yes. And I have screwed this up at least once when I put a fan on a new dimmer. It ran fine at “full” but did not like any other setting.