How to Install a Receptacle
Chances are you use a power outlet every day, but do you know how to install one? We'll guide you through the five-step process—and trust us, it's much easier than it looks.
Whether you want a more convenient outlet or just more outlets in general, knowing how to install receptacles is a handy tool. The actual installation process isn't difficult, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind before you begin.
First, where will the power come from? You can tap power for a new receptacle from an existing receptacle. If doing this may cause the circuit to overload or if there is no conveniently located receptacle, tap power from a junction box in the basement or a nearby light fixture or switch. Or, if one or more new receptacles supply heavy power users, run cable all the way to the service panel and install a new circuit.
Also consider the amp of your outlet. When connecting to a 15-amp circuit, install a standard receptacle and 14-gauge wire. When connecting to a 20-amp circuit, use 12-gauge wire and a special 20-amp receptacle. However you grab power and route cables, make sure the cable is firmly clamped at each end and the ground wires are connected correctly.
Expect to spend about 2 hours running cable and making connections for your new receptacle. You'll need to know how to strip and connect wires to terminals, install boxes, and run cable through walls and ceilings.
What You Need
- Voltage tester
- Fish tape
- Long-nose pliers
- Lineman's pliers
- Utility knife
- Stud finder
- Torpedo level
- Tape measure
- Pry bar
- Drywall saw or jigsaw
- New receptacle
- Remodel box and clamps
- Wire nuts
- Electrician's tape
- Protective nailing plates
- Cable staples
Step 1: Shut Off Power and Remove Receptacle
Shut off power to the circuit. Cut and drill a pathway for the cable. Pull out the receptacle you're grabbing power from and test to make sure power is not present. Move the receptacle to the side or disconnect and remove it.
Step 2: Install Remodel Box
Cut a hole for a remodel box. Run cable from the area near the existing box to the hole, clamp the cable to the box, and install the new box.
Step 3: Strip and Clamp
Pry up a knockout slug in the old box and twist it out with pliers. (If you can't do this, remove the box and replace it with a remodel box.) Remove the sheathing from the cable, strip the wires, and attach a connector clamp to the cable. Push the cable into the box and fasten the clamp.
Step 4: Connect Wires
Strip and run cable into the existing box and tighten the cable clamp. Connect the new wires to existing wiring. Attach the ground wires using a pigtail. Connect the white wire to the available silver terminal and the black wire to the brass one.
Step 5: Wire New Receptacle
Wire the new receptacle. Connect the ground wire to the ground screw, the white wire to the silver terminal, and the black wire to the brass terminal.
How to Wire a Middle-of-Run Receptacle
If the existing receptacle box has two cables and there are no available terminals on the receptacle, disconnect all the wires. Hook up pigtails and connect the pigtails to the terminals.