How To Add an Electrical Outlet
I would like to add an electric outlet, how is this done? How to Install Electrical Wiring for an Outlet, Guide to Wiring When Adding an Electric Outlet, Locating a Power Source for an Outlet.
Guide to Wiring When Adding an Electric Outlet
Electrical Question: I would like to add an electric outlet in a closet.
- The nearest electricity is a double switch on the other side of wall about a foot away.
- How do I wire up a plug to keep constant power to the plug-in outlet.
This electrical wiring question came from: Bruce, a Contractor from Des Moines, Washington.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Bruce.
Application: Adding an Outlet.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of outlets that will be replaced.
Precaution: Identify the outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional outlet wiring should be done with a permit and be inspected.
How to Install Electrical Wiring for an Outlet
- Required Electrical Wiring for an Outlet
The required wiring for an outlet would include a hot, neutral and a ground, therefore the proposed wall switch must have these components available.
- Double Check the Power Source
Understand that many switch circuits make use of a white wire that may appear to be a neutral but may be used to switch the power, so what appears to be a white neutral wire may actually be a hot.
- Testing the Power Source
This can be verified using a voltage tester, or a qualified electrician can tell just by looking at the wiring involved and the connections. Once the power source has been verified then extending the circuit wiring to the desired location may be performed as long as it is done according to all applicable electrical codes, many which are described in this website. Connecting the extended power to the primary or line side of the switch will enable constant power to the outlet.
- Match the Wire Type and Size
When the power source has be located then the wiring is installed from the power source to the location of the new outlet using the same type cable and AWG wire size.
- Installing the Electric Outlet Box
An outlet box is installed to the desired location where the elevation to the center of the box matches the other outlets unless a different height is desired. Typically it is best to install a single cut-in box when adding an additional wall outlet.
Placement of and Limitations of Closet Receptacle Outlets
- Specific Outlet Requirements
Receptacle outlets that are installed in the bedroom areas must have AFCI protection, and placement of closet receptacle outlets are limited and possibly not allowed by the NEC or your local codes. Consult your local building jurisdiction for specific information. With this in mind I have installed outlets in large walk-in closets where the outlets are used for shoe shining equipment, battery chargers for cell phones etc. The closet area is also a typical location for home burglar alarm systems which require an electrical receptacle outlet.
Home Offices and Closets Used for a Desk or Workspace
- Adding an Outlet in a Closet
Another popular trend is where bedroom closets are being used a for small office work space where a desk is being located so a receptacle outlet will be very convenient for desktop items and task lighting. In a case such as this installing a low profile fluorescent light fixture above the closet door opening on the inside area of the wall may be helpful. The choice in lighting must comply with the electrical codes regarding closet lighting and the proximity of stored materials particularly on shelf areas.
Closet Receptacle Outlets, Closet Light Fixtures and NEC Codes
- Codes for Electric Outlets
As with any electrical project, the addition of any receptacle outlets or lighting fixtures must be installed with a permit and inspected, however they may in fact not be allowed due to the size or design of the closet, and as stipulated by the NEC or your local codes.
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.