How to Install a Switched Receptacle

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.

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. 

  • Start to Finish 1 Hour
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Easy
  • Involves Electrical Skills

What you need

Tools

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

Materials

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

How to do it

Step 1 Remove Receptacle

Turn off power. 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.

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