How to add an Outlet to a Switch
Can a receptacle outlet be added where a light switch is located? Considerations when Adding an Outlet to a Switch.
Add an Outlet to a Switch
Electrical Question: Can a receptacle outlet be added where a light switch is located?
- I have a light at the top of my stairs controlled by two switches. I’ve determined that the power from the breaker box goes to the outlet at the bottom of the stairs.
- Is it possible to install a switch/outlet combo in the outlet at the top of the stairs so I can have power on the upstairs landing as their are only outlets in the room off of the hall? If so, how would the wiring work with the two runners from the bottom switch?
This electrical wiring question came from Keith, a Handyman, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Keith.
Adding an Outlet to a Switch
Application: Adding a 120 Volt Receptacle Outlet to a Switch.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best if wired by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
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 added and the access to the location for the new outlets.
Precaution: Identify the existing outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional outlet wiring should be done through the local building authority, installed according to applicable local and national electrical codes, with a permit, and have the required inspections.
Considerations when Adding an Outlet to a Switch
- Circuit Power and Wiring
- In order to add a receptacle outlet to a light switch the circuit wiring must be at the location of the light switch, or contained inside the electrical box of the light switch. The circuit wires required for an outlet include a ground wire, a neutral wire and the circuit power wire.
- Adding an Outlet to a 3way Switch
- Depending on how the 3way switches have been wired, and there are several ways that 3way switches can be wired, the circuit wiring may not be available for a receptacle outlet to be added.
- The Circuit Capacity Must Be Tested
- IMPORTANT: Before adding any new device to a circuit, including a receptacle outlet, the circuit capacity must be checked by the electrician to see if the circuit has enough additional amperage capacity required for the added device, otherwise the circuit may become overloaded and trip off the circuit breaker or blow a fuse.
- Alternative Solution for Adding a New Outlet
- Instead of adding an outlet to a switch, I have found that adding a new outlet from an existing outlet circuit found in a bedroom may be much faster and easier. In the case where a bedroom hall is adjacent to the hallway, the new outlet may be installed by extending the bedroom circuit to a new outlet box in the desired location of the hallway.
More about Wiring a Receptacle Outlet
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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.