How to Install a Switched Receptacle to Control an Outlet

A switched receptacle allows you to control one outlet with a switch while the other remains hot. Here's how to do it safely on your own.

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Photo: Jason Donnelly
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Voltage tester
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Nonconductive ladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Strippers
  • Long-nose pliers
  • Lineman's pliers


  • Fish tape
  • Single-pole switch
  • Receptacle
  • Two-wire cable
  • Wire nuts
  • Remodel box
  • Cable clamps
  • Electrician's tape


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    Better Homes & Gardens

    Remove Receptacle

    Turn off the power. Without touching the terminals carefully pull out the existing receptacle and test for power.

    Editor's Tip: Before starting, shut off power to the circuit.

  2. SCW_188_05.jpg

    Better Homes & Gardens

    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.

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    Better Homes & Gardens

    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.

    Editor's tip: 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.

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    Better Homes & Gardens

    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.

    Editor's Tip: 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.

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    Better Homes & Gardens

    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.

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