How to Wire a Switch to a Plug Outlet

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Wired Switch to Outlet
Wired Switch to Outlet (Image: Light Switch and Outlet image by Towards Ithaca from Fotolia.com)

Adding an on-off switch to an outlet can provide an added convenience to control lamps and other appliances easily. A double outlet receptacle can be converted to a switch-controlled outlet with minimal effort. Most of the tools needed to perform this task are generally already a part of the do-it-yourself homeowner’s toolkit.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Standard light switch
  • 14 gauge copper wiring
  • Outlet/switch face plate

Wiring a Switch to an Outlet

Remove fuse or turn off breaker for the circuit controlling the outlet to be modified. Double-check the outlet by plugging a standard table lamp fixture into the receptacle to ensure power is off. If a known working lamp cannot be turned on using either of the outlets, power has been isolated to the receptacle being worked on.

Remove the face plate by removing the exposed screws from the double outlet and set aside. Using the screwdriver, remove the two receptacle outlets from the box and pull each out away from the wall as far as possible to expose wiring.

Remove the black and white wires coming into the box from the receptacle to which they are attached. The green ground wire may be removed in the same manner if attached to this outlet. Once wires are removed, set this receptacle aside.

Connect the black incoming wire to the switch to be installed in the circuit using the screwdriver. The black wire should be installed at the top wire screw on the back-side of the switch. Install a new black wire to the bottom wire screw on the switch located beneath the top connection just made. These will be the only wires connected to the switch.

Remove the black wire from the second receptacle in the outlet. If there are two black wires connected to the second outlet, remove the one that was previously connected to the first outlet.

Install the new black wire previously connected to the new switch to the location on the second receptacle where the black wire was previously removed. Since the black wire will provide the incoming power when the circuit is re-energized, this connection will allow for the switch to control power to the receptacle.

Connect the white wire previously removed from the first receptacle, into the second receptacle in place of the existing white wire. The white wire being replaced on the second receptacle was previously connected to the first receptacle. This wire will now be completely removed.

Reconnect the green ground wire removed from the first receptacle to the new light switch using the green wire screw provided on the switch. Secure wire connection with screwdriver. Double-check that all connections are secure.

Place new switch and second receptacle back into the outlet box and secure with 2 screws on each devise.

Install the new outlet/switch face plate with the 3 screws provided and secure with the screwdriver.

Re-install the fuse or turn on the breaker at the fuse panel to re-energize the newly modified outlet. Test the function of the new switch and outlet by plugging the standard table lamp into the outlet and functioning the switch with the lamp turned on.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most home improvement stores can assist in providing everything needed to facilitate this modification.
  • Always ensure electrical power is completely turned off before working on any electrical equipment.

References

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