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Home 'Switch and Outlet Wiring Made Easy'

Outlet, Half Switched

Power Source at Outlet

Read the legal disclaimer page - click the legal link in the menu at bottom of page

For Preparation Instructions Click HERE

STEP 1 - Make certain that the power supply cable is dead - turn off the electrical breaker at the service panel. Make certain that everyone in the house is aware of what you are doing so that they do not get the notion to reset the breaker when another light in the home is not working.

STEP 2 - Make the box openings (if a existing home)

STEP 3 - Feed / Route the wire cables.

STEP 4 -Mount / Install the Electrical Boxes which should be flush with the finished wall, not beyond so that the wall plate will also be flush; then feed the wire cables into the electrical boxes. Sometimes because of tight openings in existing homes, the wire cable may to be feed into the electrical box then the box put in position and secured.

STEP 5 - Connect the wires...


Power at Outlet Half switched

Power at Outlet Half switched

Connections Instructions:
(as depicted in the diagrams above)

At the Outlet box...

Two cables entering this box , one is the 'circuit power supply cable' and one coming from switch.

FIRST - break off the metal joining tab between the two brass color screws, DO NOT break off the metal joining tab between the silver color screws.

* a) connect the white wire from the 'circuit power supply cable' to one of the silver color screws (this is the grounded conductor [neutral])
* c) connect the black wire coming from switch to one of the brass color screws - this will be the switched half of the duplex outlet.
* d) using an insulated wire nut connect / join the black wire from 'circuit power supply cable + the black wire connecting to the last remaining brass color screw (this will be the always on half of the duplex outlet) + the white wire coming from switch.
* e) please see under important notes in regards to the equipment grounding conductor (bare wire).

At the Switch  box...

One cable entering this box coming from outlet.

* a) connect the white wire coming from outlet to one of the main screws of switch.
* b) connect the black wire coming from outlet to the last remaining main screw of switch.

Please see under important notes in regards to the equipment grounding conductor (bare wire).

Important Notes:

By electrical codes you MUST have at least 6 inches of wire in the electrical box itself, and also the wire must be able to reach at least 3 inches outside the box, it can fail an electrical inspection if the required min. wire length is not met.  You may have the wires a bit longer (within reason) but they cannot be shorter. Also see the note on box fill further down in this article.

You are allowed to re-designate a white wire  to be used as a hot (ungrounded conductor) in switch circuits but in those cases where a white wire is used in this manner, you must wrap a piece of black electrical tape around that white wire inside the box  to signify that is being used as an ungrounded (hot) conductor.

You cannot re-designate a white wire that is actually connected to the outlet itself. At the outlet itself, the white wire must be the grounded conductor (neutral) coming from the circuit power supply cable. 

In the configuration depicted on this page, the white wire going between outlet and switch has been re-designated  as an ungrounded conductors (hot) and therefore a piece of black electrical tape must be wrapped around both ends of this wire. The white wire from the 'circuit power supply cable' connected to the silver color screw of outlet is a grounded conductor (neutral) and therefore NO black tape around that wire.

What is not shown in the drawings to avoid confusion, is that each wire cable also has a bare equipment grounding wire included. This wire is connected to a grounding screw in each electrical box (if the box is metal),  joined either through the grounding screws in the box itself or via a wire nut to the bare wire of the next cable entering / exiting the box, it is also connected to any grounding screw (if there is one) on the switch itself, as well as the equipment grounding screw of outlet (possibly a green screw).  Now if using a plastic box, it is made of a material that is non conductive, however some plastic boxes have a metal strip inside that can still be used to connect equipment grounding wires, in the event that it does not use wire nuts to join the bare grounding wires together. The equipment grounding wire (bare in most cables) must be electrical conductively joined throughout the circuit.  Green wires are also equipment grounding conductors.

For Extension Options to this circuit - CLICK HERE

Foreign Users:

The colors of the wires depicted are based on the standards and code requirements / configuration in the United States and Canada. If you are viewing this site from a foreign country, your wiring standards and color of wires may be different but the principal and sequence of wiring will still remain the same. Therefore the information in this article may still be of use to you regardless of what country you may be in. Just translate the colors used here to the color of wires used in your country in regards to ungrounded (hot) conductors / grounded conductors (neutral) and equipment grounding conductors as well know applicable code requirements in your country.

By: Donald Kerr

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