How to Wire an Electrical Outlet to a Wall Switch

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Connecting a light switch to a pre-wired outlet is an excellent way to add functionality to a room. This is most often done to allow for floor or table lighting to be plugged into that outlet and then controlled by the wall switch. As with any electrical wiring project it is sometimes best to have a qualified electrician do the work, but with proper precautions it is not a difficult project and will enhance a room greatly.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric boxes for new outlet and switch
  • Switch
  • Outlet
  • Electrical cable
  • Wire stripper
  • Electrical tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Choose where you want the switch box and outlet to be located. Make sure there is no power to that wire if attaching to an already hot wire. If not already wired, complete the entire switch to outlet wiring before connecting to the circuit box.

  • Attach a plastic outlet box to one side of a wall stud with standard framing nails at a height approximately 1 foot from the base flooring. Make sure it is secure. Attach a switch box in the same fashion approximately 4 feet from the base floor.

  • Drill a 3/4 to 1-inch hole in the 2-by-4 stud just above the switch box. Go back to the outlet box and drill a hole in the stud above that box in the direction of the switch. Continue drilling similar holes until reaching the stud with the switch box.

  • Run standard electrical cabling to the new switch box from the main circuit box. Do not connect it to the main power at this point. Run another wire from the switch box, threaded through the drilled holes to the outlet box.

  • Connect the wires from the electrical box to a switch placed inside the box. Attach the white wire to the silver screw, and the black wire to the copper screw on the same side of the switch. Attach the two wires leading to the outlet box to the brass screws on the other side of the switch.

  • Connect the black wire to one side of the outlet on a copper screw. Attach the white wire to the silver screw. Wrap electrical tape around the top, bottom and sides of both the outlet and the switch to keep the wires insulated from any contact.

  • Attach the outlet and switch to the boxes by using the included screws. Make sure they are as vertically straight as possible in the box. Place cover plates over the new boxes to complete them.

  • Disconnect the main power to the circuit box before connecting the new wire to the circuit. Make it secure and use electrical tape to cover any and all exposed wire.

Tips & Warnings

  • To indicate that the outlet is controlled by a switch, it is customary to attach the outlet upside down from any other outlets to denote that it is set up differently.
  • If concerned about working with electricity, consider having a professional electrician take care of anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself.

References

  • “Electrical Wiring Residential;” Ray C. Mullin; 2007
  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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