A receptacle can be split so a wall switch controls one of its outlets while the other is hot all the time. A lamp plugged into the switched outlet can be turned on as you enter a room, so this trick is often used in bedrooms or home offices. Many codes also allow a bedroom without a ceiling light if it has a switched receptacle.
This is something that you can do yourself, with a little help from our expertise. Check out our steps below to get it done right the first time.
Note: If the wall is covered with drywall or plaster, most of the work consists of running cable and perhaps patching the wall afterwards.
What You Need
- Voltage tester
- Nonconductive ladder
- Fish tape
- Long-nose pliers
- Lineman's pliers
- Single-pole switch
- Receptacle (if you want to replace the old one)
- Two-wire cable
- Wire nuts
- Remodel box
- Cable clamps
- Electrician's tape
Step 1: Remove Receptacle
Warning: Before starting, shut off power to the circuit.
Without touching the terminals carefully pull out the existing receptacle and test for power.
Step 2: Cut Hole
Cut a hole for a switch box, run cable from the hole to the existing receptacle box, and clamp the cable to the box.
Step 3: Replace Receptacle
Either remove and replace the receptacle or continue to use the existing one. Remove the tab that connects the two brass terminals; the two outlets are no longer connected to each other.
Step 4: Splice and Connect Wires
At the receptacle mark the white switch wire with black tape and connect the grounds. Splice the feed wire with the white-marked wire and add a pigtail. Connect the pigtail to a brass terminal, the remaining black wire to the other brass terminal, and the white wire to a silver terminal.
Step 5: Connect Ground
If only one cable originally entered the switch box, connect the ground and mark the white switch wire with black tape. Connect the wires to the appropriate switch terminals.
More Tips for Installing a Switched Receptacle
If Power Enters the Receptacle Box
If power runs to the receptacle, use two-wire cable to make a switch loop. Mark the white wire black to indicate that it is hot.
What If a Receptacle is Middle-of-Run?
If two cables originally entered the receptacle box, connect the grounds and mark the white switch wire black. Attach the black switch wire to one brass terminal. Splice the remaining black wires and the white switch wire together with a pigtail. Connect the pigtail to the other brass terminal. Connect the remaining white wires to silver terminals.