Installing a Switched Receptacle


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. Many codes allow a bedroom without a ceiling light if it has a switched receptacle.

If the wall is covered with drywall or plaster, most of the work consists of running cable and perhaps patching the wall afterwards.


About 3 hours to run cable a short distance (not including cutting a pathway for the cable and patching walls), install a wall switch, and wire the receptacle

Voltage tester, drill, saw, hammer, nonconductive ladder, fish tape, screwdriver, strippers, long-nose pliers, lineman's pliers

Stripping, splicing, and connecting wires to terminals; installing boxes; running cable through walls

Lay a drop cloth on the floor below.

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

Shut off power to the circuit. Without touching the terminals carefully pull out the existing receptacle and test for power.

Step 2

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

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

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

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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