How can I wire two switched outlets but power is connected at the first outlet?


Just use outlet box #1 as both a junction box & outlet box. Having enough room in the box shouldn't be a problem, but you can always get a deeper box if desired. Wire nut the supply to another 14/2 running to the switch. Then, you'll run a new 14/2 back to outlet box #1 to power the outlet. Finally, simply run another 14/2 from outlet #1 to outlet #2.

Follow manufacturer's instructions, if provided. But, Black Wire to Brass or Black screw. White Wire to Silver screw (may or may not apply to the switch). Ground or Bare wire to Green Screw. Just Whites (if applicable) & Grounds or Bares at switch would be Pig-tailed to the Switch...pig-tail is a 3rd wire chunk of 6" or 8" that is wire-nutted to the 14/2 wires. This pigtail is the only thing that gets attached to the Switch's Silver (if applicable) & Green...

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Response to comments about the white/neutral/illegal etc. for controlling an outlet with a switch. This is often used to serve a disposal (the best solution for a disposal installation is to use a product called an airswitch. You may have seen them, the button is then in the corner of the sink in a knockout and matches the finish of your sink). I am an electrical contractor with 20 yrs experience, feel free to heck NEC for confirmation. While it is good practice to label white wires that are used as an ungrounded conductor (make them a "hot wire"), it would hardly be the most egregious error a homeowner could make. It is however in the NEC to label it for use as such: Article 200.7(C)(1) (painting, taping, or other manner for identification).

The best wiring method in my opinion for a switched outlet also depends on how the wires are run to each box.

Scenario one feeds the switch first and then goes to the outlet. Scenario 2 wires runs to the outlet first and then to...

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In the house it seems that the original owner wanted all top outlets to be switched and the bottoms to be always on. I hate this and want to fix it.

So I took all the outlets out from the one room. Now I have two sets of red,white,black,ground at each 1 gang box. How can I properly wire each new outlet to always be on and to only use the white,black,ground without re-running wires?

I tested the wires at the switch box and now I am not getting any power to them, so I'm assuming its safe to cap these wires and hide them in the box, correct?

Update: I found which outlet gets the power from the feed. However, when I connect it to the outlet, all red wires become hot. How is this even possible if the next outlet is disconnected completely? Aren't outlets typically daisy chained? I have 5 outlets in the room and my switch is disconnected. The switch seems to work backwards and start at the last outlet.

Update*: Only two outlets are actually showing that red is...

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There should be no problem doing what you want.

One set of conductors brings power from an upstream device or outlet, while the other takes power to a downstream device or outlet. The two black conductors are electrically bonded through the receptacle, as are the two white conductors. You'll notice that the bonding tab on the side of the receptacle is still in place, which means that the two receptacles are connected together.

If you're simply replacing the existing receptacle, with an identical (or similar) receptacle of a different color. Simply connect the new receptacle exactly as the original is connected.

Disconnect the power by switching off the breaker, or removing the fuse. Connect the bare grounding conductor to the green grounding screw terminal. Connect the two white conductors to the silver colored screw terminals (one per terminal). Connect the two black conductors to the brass colored screw terminals (one per terminal).

NOTE: When...

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You are on the right track. As it comes from the store, the upper and lower sections of standard double outlets are connected by the small tab connecting the brass plates under the screws on either side.

To separate those sections so that one half is constantly on and the other half is switched, break the tab on the hot side of the outlet. This is usually the side with brass screws. The other, neutral side usually has silver screws. You can be sure on modern outlets because the side with the larger slot is the neutral. In your first picture, the neutral is on the right.

Break the tab on the hot side by grasping it with the tip of a needle-nose pliers and flexing front to back until it snaps off. Do not break off the tab on the neutral side (that would be removed only if the two halves were going to be fed by different breakers; not your case).

You should have two hot wires, one always on and one switched. They may both be black or one black and one red, or even...

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Any wire connector can fail. Screws can loosen with vibration, stress, corrosion, temperature fluctuations, and so on. Push-in (or stab-in) connections can fail for the same reasons. Crimp and pin connections, friction lock, and even soldered joints can fail.

The real question is: what's the most effective wire connection given the operating conditions, parts and installation cost, lifetime expectancy, use case, and so on.

For example, where I work (we manufacture large electric signs), we use all manner of connection methods, and they vary based on these factors. One such factor is serviceability. If a connection is expected to be rugged and reliable but disconnected for safety reasons, we may use screw terminal blocks (which only accept straight wire) or friction lock (which requires use of a screwdriver to release, similar to the push-in connectors on outlets and switches).

Outlets shouldn't require frequent service nor replacement, nor should experience...

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I need some sort of electrical device which would combine the output of a switched electrical outlet with a programmable timer plugged into a non-switched outlet. Then I would plug lamps into said electrical device, and have the timer set to be on only from 10 minutes before my alarm goes off in the morning, to 10 minutes before I need to leave for work. This way I could turn my lamps off at night, the timer would turn them on in the morning, then turn them off right before I leave for work, and then when I come back, I can use the wall switch to turn them off and on as I please.

I'm pretty sure this cannot be done and would most likely short out, but the way I visualize this is something like an extension cord with two outlets, and then put Male to Male adapters on the outputs and a Female to Female adapter on the input.

From what I've read, it seems what I'm looking for is very similar to a redundant power strip, however these are $150+ and I'm looking for $25 and...

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Pretty good answers overall. In Lediy99's part B, doing that creates a parallel circuit which is against code. To summarize your options:

1) If half switched (and half non-switched), the outlet has live power you can use. You could replace with a new receptacle, but you could also make pigtails (2 wires connected to the hot wire from the old receptacle to connect to the two brass screws).

2) No non-switched hot on the outlet, if there is one in the box you can use it.

3) To bypass the 3 way switches themselves, each switch has a COMMON (which should be labeled as such on the switch as well as being a different color screw from the other two) and two travelers. The travelers at each switch are the same wires and so will be the same color (like a red and black, or red and white). Wire nut the common with ONE of the travelers at each switch (the same color traveler for both) and just cover/tape the other traveler in the box.

NOTE on all the above. If you have no...

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Determine which devices are not connected to GFCI.

Some devices should not be connected to GFCI receptacles because of the possibility for "nuisance tripping"; for example, refrigerators, fluorescent lights, laser printers, garbage disposals, trash compactors, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, home heating and cooling systems, artesian well and driven point jet type pumps,microwave ovens and freezers are some of the more commons items.

For switches: Label the wires with some sort of identifying mark on masking tape wrapped around each wire. Use the same mark for each wire connected to the same terminal screw of the device Determine the type of switch you have. A single-pole switch (one switch controls the light fixture(s)) will have two screws and be marked "ON" and "OFF" if a toggle type, a 3-way switch (two switches control the light fixture(s), typically at each end of a stairwell) will have three screws, one of which is black, and a 4-way switch (three switches...
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Digital voltmeters should not be used for ac circuits. They work fine if power is present, but if an open circuit exists they usually do not measure properly. You should only use an analog multimeter for measuring voltage on an ac circuit.

Measuring for voltage at a switch tell you very much, unless the switch has a neutral. If the switch is part of a switch loop then all you can test for is the hot wire being connected. You cannot test the neutral connection.

I am betting that you have an open neutral.

Two things to do.

Check each and every receotacle and switch you replaced. If you did not replace with a brand new switch or receptacle then do so now. Do not reuse receptacles or switches. If you wired using the "back stab" or "quick connect" terminals, then move those connections to the screw terminals. If you don;t find a problem at the receptacles you replaced, then check the other receptacles on the...

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Ceiling Fan Wiring

We are in desperate need of help! We are trying to install a ceiling fan with a light kit and a wall switch that control both the light and the fan separately. The problem is that we have three wires plus the ground coming from the ceiling instead of the two wires and ground stated in the instructions.

The wires from the ceiling are red, black, and white. We tested them and the red is hot from the light switch and the black is hot also. The fan/light switch we purchased has a controller that wires directly to the ceiling. The top of the controller has two wires, black and white. The bottom of the controller that goes to the fan has white, black, and red wires. Here we wired black to black, white to white, and red to the black/white wire as the instructions said for the light kit. The ground from the ceiling is threaded through the middle of the controller and connected to the two green wires.

The problem is that we don't know how to...

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Can you connect a receptacle from a light outlet, but keep the receptacle hot when the light switch is off? Here is a question from a visitor on this very topic.


I have an existing light switch wired to one light. I want to add a plug continuing from the light, so how do I keep power going to plug when I turn the light off?


The answer to this depends on how the existing circuit is wired. If the power comes to the light outlet first, and then goes to the switch, then this can be done fairly easily as long as the outlet is accessible, isn’t too full of wires already because the unswitched power is available as well as the switched wire that is connected to the light.

The problem is when the power comes to the switch, and then from the switch to the light outlet (or lights), and only on a 2-wire cable. In this case, you must change the cable from the switch to the light outlet from a 2-wire to a 3-wire...

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Last week I described how an outlet should be wired for switch control when the voltage enters the circuit at the outlet. This setup is how our master bedroom was wired before I installed an overhead ceiling fan. As promised, I detail below how to modify this wiring setup with minimal effort so that the switch can instead control an overhead fixture. Later this week, I’ll post some before and after pics from our ceiling fan installation. Before we get started, let’s briefly review last week’s diagram:

Review of Switched Outlet Wiring (Power Enters at the Outlet)

In this diagram, voltage enters the circuit at location (A) in a standard 2-wire (+ground) Romex. The white neutral wire from this Romex is connected directly to the silver terminals on the receptacle (E), and the black hot wire is connected to the white wire running to the switch (B). The white and black wires from this Romex are connected to the switch (C). The black wire at the switch is now...

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This is a good one. First, you will need 3-wire Romex cable rather than the standard 2-wire Romex (actually, you will need some of both). These terms are actually misnomers because 3-wire cable actually has 4 wires, counting the ground wire, and 2-wire cable has 3 wires, counting the ground. The 3-wire cable you want will have black, white, red, and bare wires inside the sheath, while the 2-wire cable has everything except the red wire. I'm assuming this is a brand new switch and a brand new outlet. If not, the instructions will have to be modified somewhat. I'm also assuming that the house is in the middle of contruction (stud walls have been erected, but not covered with drywall yet). If this is not the case, the instructions will still work, but you have to figure out how to run all these cables behind existing walls, which is a pain. I'm just telling you how to make the connections. Make sure the breaker controlling this circuit is turned off before you do anything! First,...

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So, you have two-prong outlet receptacles and want three-prong outlets. I will try to address common questions regarding two-prong outlets, and what can be done about it. If you have specific questions not covered(or needs clarifying) regarding the subject of two-prong outlets, please read this entire post before posting a new thread. This thread will be monitored indefinitely. Please understand that this post is very limited and the unique situations homes have are limitless.As an electrician, I will always advise you get a professional look at your wiring and discuss your options. You may accidentally make your situation worse. PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Code followed: NFPA 70 NEC 2011 and 23rd (2015) edition of the CEC (CSA C22.1)

Updated 03/08/17 Added CEC

Part 1: Common Questions

Are my existing two-prong outlets dangerous?

Assuming the wiring and outlet itself are okay, most likely not. There are a couple of issues that surround two prong...

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This question and answer page will help you to troubleshoot why there is no power going to outlets in one room or on one wall. Remember to always remove or disconnect power before troubleshooting electrical issues.

Question: The power outlets along one wall are no longer getting power to them. The outlets that stopped working are located in our kitchen. This problem is only happening on one wall not the complete room. The dining room and kitchen are side by side and separated by a wall with the outlets that are not working. The outlets on the dining room side wall are still working. So our issue is just one wall of outlets in our kitchen where we plug in all of our appliances is not working. We checked the breaker box in the garage and no circuit breakers have been tripped. There is no GFI reset button on the outlets to press. What can I do to troubleshoot and fix this?

Answer: The first thing to do is to unplug everything that is plugged into all the outlets...

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HOME Sitemap

For problems with most other wiring, circuits, and connections, be sure to see my Main pages. This page is about some specific electrical items whose features have implications for troubleshooting them or their circuits. Two similar pages address specific Appliances and Controls (automatic switching devices).

2-hole receptacles
Light bulbs
Smoke alarms
Switched outlets

2-hole receptacles. Electrical boxes were commonly provided with grounding wires only beginning in the mid-1960s. But over the years, many homes built before then have been given ground-type receptacles (3-holes) in order to physically accommodate 3-prong cords. Unless new cables or ground wires were run to these outlets, however, these receptacles are lying, seeming to promise grounding when there is none. And the simple 3-hole outlet tester used by home inspectors at the time of a home being sold will reveal this. Such outlets must either revert to...

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HOME SitemapInfo and Troubleshooting

There are often special looking electrical receptacles in bathrooms or kitchens that have "Test" and "Reset" buttons -- often black and red -- on them. Video. These are ground-fault circuit interrupters -- GFCIs or GFIs. Their purpose is to protect people from electrocution. They do not prevent shock altogether, only deadly shock. And they do not prevent overloads on the circuit. That is the job of a circuit breaker at the main panel. See my GFCI article. (What is the little light on some GFIs?)

Why Can't I Reset? Is GFCI Bad or Is There a Ground-Fault?
GFI Outlet Diagram -- Hooking Up
Is an Unknown GFCI the Cause of an Outage?
Finding a Tripped GFCI Receptacle
Confusing Terms: GFCI, GFI, Load, etc.

Bad GFCI or a Ground-Fault? -- Troubleshooting

Is a GFI tripping for a ground-fault? If you are pretty sure you need to troubleshoot a ground-fault itself, you may want to go to

Tripped GFI -- Why?


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Power Source at Outlet with 3 Way Switches


Read the legal disclaimer page - click the legal link in the menu above

You will need...

1. A 2 wire cable that is routed between the switch box and the outlet box - this wire cable comes with a black / white wire plus the bare equipment grounding wire.

2. A circuit power supply source wire cable that is routed to outlet.

3. A 3 wire cable that is routed between switch 1 and switch 2 - this wire cable comes with a black / red / white wire plus the bare equipment grounding wire.

4. Insulated wire...

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When I inspect houses where an amateur has been doing electrical work, there’s a good chance that I’ll find outlets with reversed polarity. This happens when the hot and neutral wires get flipped around at an outlet, or upstream from an outlet. Reversed polarity creates a potential shock hazard, but it’s usually an easy repair.

A brief definition of Hot and Neutral wires: On a standard outlet, which is technically called a ‘duplex receptacle’, there are two wires that carry electricity. One of these wires is connected to the earth, or ‘grounded’, so this wire is called the grounded conductor. This wire is commonly referred to as the neutral wire, and it should always be white. The other wire doesn’t get connected to the earth, and it’s called the ungrounded conductor, or hot wire. This wire can be any color besides white or green, but it’s usually black or red. Because the hot wire completes a circuit by coming in contact with the earth, if you touch a hot wire and...

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