Install a Switched Outlet to Control a Lamp
Annie in Iowa City Iowa asks: I wired a switched outlet for a lamp and the fixture smoked, what did I do wrong? Identify the Electrical Circuit Before Wiring, Switched Outlet Wiring Diagram.
Switched Outlet Wiring
Electrical Question: I wired a switched outlet for a lamp and the fixture smoked, what did I do wrong?
My electrical wiring project involves an Electrical Problem when I wired a Switched Outlet.
- I have an unused box on a 20amp circuit that had been capped off and covered before I bought my 1950s house. My plan is to install a switched outlet that will control a lamp.I wired up a 15amp receptacle last night and plugged in an old aquarium-style light with two fluorescent tubes that I knew worked. When I flipped the switch on, the light turned on, but it also started smoking.The pictures show my wiring scheme. One thing I noted is that my on/off switch seems to be backwards compared to ones I’ve seen in wiring diagrams online.I don’t know if this is relevant, but I found a second unused source on this circuit that was left hanging behind drywall. I can’t find any other outlets or lights that are on this circuit.Do you see something obvious that I did wrong, or is this a job for a pro?Thanks so much for all the effort you put into this website, it’s a GREAT resource!
This electrical wiring question came from Annie, a Homeowner in Iowa City, Iowa.
Additional Comments: Thank you so much for offering your expertise! It is much appreciated!
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Annie.
How to Wire a Switched Outlet for a Lamp
Application: Electrical Problem when Wiring a Switched Outlet.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor, or Certified Electrician.
Electrical Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester, and appropriate Safety Gear.
Estimated Time: This will depend on the personal level experience, ability to work with tools, install electrical circuit wiring, and the available access to the project area.
Electrical Safety: Identify the electrical power source to the Switched Outlet, turn it OFF and Tag with a Note before working with the electrical wiring.
Electrical Wiring Parts and Materials: Electrical parts and materials for the Switched Outlet should be approved for the specific project and compliant with local and national electrical codes.
Electrical Codes and Inspections: Installing or changing home electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes as adopted in Iowa City, Iowa. A permit and inspections may also be required.
Resources to help you do electrical wiring in your area:
Locate Electricians or Electrical Contractors in Iowa
Iowa Electrical Contractor License, Building Permits and Electrical Codes
Avoid Problems When Wiring a Switched Outlet
This project is about an Electrical Problem that was encountered when wiring a Switched Outlet in the Entry area of a Old Home.
Switched Outlet Electrical Problem
First, I would like to advise you that before using the wiring in a outlet box for any purpose the circuit wiring will need to be positively identified to understand what the circuit was previously used for, and if there are any problems with the circuit wiring.
Identify the Electrical Circuit
The circuit can be identified with various methods using a ohm meter or a voltage meter. A voltage meter will be the best method so we can verify voltage and the condition of the circuit wiring. Keep in mind this is not all inclusive, as there may be unseen issues or problems that may have lead to the discontinued use of the wiring.
From what you have described, I would suspect that the voltage is not 120volts, but most likely 220-240 volts, and this would explain why the light fixture started to smoke. It is possible that this is a dedicated circuit that was once used for an electric heater, air conditioner, or other such equipment depending on the actual location of the electrical box.
If this is the case, then the circuit might be able to be converted by a qualified electrician to 120volts after careful inspections and conversions of the circuit wires inside the panel .
Update from Annie: Electrician Called, Problem Solved
I had an electrician come today, and you were exactly right about the circuit being 220 volts. An easy fix for the electrician, and I was reminded that I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m glad I didn’t burn my house down!
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Home electrical wiring diagrams are an important tool for completing your electrical projects. An electrical wiring diagram can be as simple as a diagram showing how to install a new switch in your hallway, or as complex as the complete electrical blueprint for your new home or home improvement project.
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Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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