How to wire up a split receptacle:
This article descrbes how an electrician may split the wiring to an individual electrical receptacle (wall outlet) so that the upper and lower halves of the device may be powered separately. Most-often we use this feature when we want to be able to switch a table or floor lamp on or off from a wall switch while keeping "always-on" power provided to the other half of the receptacle. For example in a bedroom we might want to plug in a wall-clock that will always have power while at the same time and at the same location we want to be able to switch a bedside table lamp on and off from a switch at the entry to the room. Our page top photo points out the break-away tab that is removed if we are going to wire the upper and lower halves of an electrical receptacle separately.
In this article series we illustrate basic connections seen in the field for the black, white neutral or grounded conductor), and ground wire when hooking up an electrical receptacle (wall plug or "outlet").
Watch out: mis-wired electrical receptacles are dangerous. Electrical wiring should be performed by a licensed, trained electrician and should comply with the National Electrical Code and local regulations. This article series describes how to choose, locate, and wire an electrical receptacle in a home.
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Watch out: Electrical components in a building can easily cause an electrical shock, burn, or even death. Even when a hot line switch is off, one terminal on the switch is still connected to the power source. Before doing any work on the switch, the power source must be turned off by setting a circuit breaker to OFF or removing a fuse.
I have double receptacle that has 3 wires coming in: one being the main power wire; one is incoming which feeds another receptacle, and the 3rd wire will feed a single pole switch. How do I wire the receptacle and then, how do I wire the single pole switch with 2 incoming wires? - JMS 6/3/12
JMS I don't have a perfectly clear idea of what you are wiring, but it may help to simplify: using a twist on connector and additional short wire lengths, the incoming hot and neutral can then be connected to receptacles in the same box, and any outgoing hot and neutral join the same twist on connectors.
Typically when I see a switch wired from a receptacle box the switch is being used to make one of the receptacles switchable while leaving the others always -on. in that case the electrician may run a 14-2 wire (hot, neutral, ground) from the receptacle box to the switch, putting black tape on the ends of the white wire to show that BOTH wires are actually carrying current. Those wires, back in the receptacle box, then interrupt power to the "switched" receptacle.
If you choose to wire the upper and lower duplex receptacle openings to different circuits, we call this the "split receptacle" wiring method, because we are splitting the individual duplex receptacle upper and lower connectors onto two different circuits. We split an individual receptacle at a single location when we want to control the upper or lower receptacle half to permit turning a wall or floor lamp on or off from a wall-mounted light switch.
Our photo shows the black wire or "hot" wire brass screws on an electrical receptacle with the conducting tab left in place. In this factory-configuration, a wire connected to either of the two screw connectors will power both upper and lower halves of this receptacle. But if we break away the red tab pointed to by my red arrow, then we can wire the top and bottom half of this receptacle separately.
Depending on the application and on what circuits and wires are present, we might break away only the line or hot wire side of the receptacle, powering each half separately but allowing the device to use a common neutral wire. That would be a typical approach if we were going to power half of this receptacle through a wall switch.
In sum: we were wiring this electrical "outlet" as a split receptacle, we'd want to feed the upper and lower halves of the device from two different electrical circuits. To do so we'd have to break away the "breakaway" connecting tab pointed to by our orange arrow.
is it okay to use 14/3 wire for power to light to switch to receptacle?
If you are asking about using a shared neutral wire on a lighting circuit combined with an electrical receptacle circuit, see (search InspectAPedia.com for) our article on "multi wire branch circuits" or "shared neutral electrical wiring".
In general we'd use 14-2 wire on a 15 amp circuit to power electrical receptacles and a SEPARATE circuit to power the lighting fixtures. If we lose power on one circuit we want the other still working so that there is safe lighting in the area.
For a light fixture such as a ceiling light, in addition to bringing power to the junction box where the light fixture is to be mounted (using 14-2 copper wire) we'd use a separate length of 14-2 wire to run from the light switch to the junction box to control the light. Tape the white wire at both ends of the switch circuit with black tape so that the next worker knows that this is a switch circuit and that the white wire is not a neutral wire.
Watch out: we do not wire fixed lighting fixtures such as ceiling lights on the same circuit as electrical receptacles ("wall plugs"). If one of the two circuits should be switched off by a circuit breaker (perhaps detecting a fault or over current) we want the other circuit to remain on so that room occupants are less likely to be left in darkness.
I would like to wire in an outlet on the same wall where there is currently a light switch. Can I run wires from the light switch to power the outlet?The light switch is a 2 way switch. thank you. - Marv Walker 7/10/12
Well yes, maybe, sort-of.
Because a light switch is indeed switching a hot wire to the light, you've got power at the switch location. But depending on how the building is wired, you may not have an acceptable neutral wire, and in some still older circuits you may not have a safe ground wire.
Provided that you know how to work on electrical wiring without getting killed by electrocution, you (or your electrician) will open the switch box, carefully pull the switch assembly out enough to inspect for additional wires that may be present, and then use a VOM or DMM or even a simple neon tester to determine what wires are present.
To add a receptacle you need a proper hot, neutral and ground wire.
Watch out: if the "hot" wire in your light switch is on a 3-way circuit you may not always have power at your add-on receptacle.
How should multiple way light switches be wired so that when all switches are down/up the light is off? Only some of the two-way switches in the house are working that way. With the 3-way and 4-way there's always one switch that has to be opposite the others.
Jim this is one of my favorite questions - thanks. Because a circuit with two or more "three-way" switches installed can be turned on or off from any of the switches on the circuit, it is impossible to wire the circuit so that when the circuit is "OFF" all of the switches are in a predictable position, say "down" (which we like to use to mean "off").
Imagine that all the switches are "down" and the lights are off (which is a possible case). Someone turns the lights ON at switch #1.
When someone wants to turn that light OFF, IF and ONLY IF that very same switch (now in the "up" position) is used, then by definition they are going to be using some other switch (now in the "down" position). When that "other" switch is used to turn lights off, it was "down" and is now switched "up".
You can't get there from here on a conventional 120V 3 or 4 or n-way lighting circuit.
I have one line with power coming into a box that will have one two way switch, one three way switch and one power line exiting. Is it proper to splice the incoming black wire to make 3 black wires by pig tailing with wire connectors and doing the same for the white wire and ground? - is it ok? 12/13/12
I'm sorry but I'm confused by the question. I think it's safe to say that in general it's common practice to use a twist-on connector to splice pigtails or individual wires at an individual hot or neutral wire where more connections are needed than fit with the original wire.
Just watch out to avoid violating the space or number of connectors permitted in a junction box of the particular size you're working on.
If you are wiring a 2-wire electrical circuit that has no ground wire, also see CONNECTION for 2-WIRE RECEPTACLE CIRCUITS for proper wiring details.
Continue reading at ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE CONNECTION DETAILS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see ELECTRICAL OUTLET, HOW TO ADD & WIRE - home - for general wiring procedures, connections & advice for connecting electrical receptacles.
Or see CONNECTION for 2-WIRE RECEPTACLE CIRCUITS - no ground
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(July 30, 2014) Anne said:
I am replacing an outlet that has the top half on a switch and the bottom half always on. The old outlet had stab wire connections for a black, white and RED wire in the top section. I have tried to install the new outlet, using the screws as recommended, rather than the stab connections, and cannot make the top half work on the switch. (I tried with the tabs in place, one tab removed and both tabs removed. Also tried the red & black on the same screw, red on the screw and black in the stab hole and the reverse.) How to I make the switch work?
Anne I don't have a full picture of what you're doing but
first: be careful not to electrocute yourself or start a fire - a standard caveat I'd make to anyone not a trained electrician
Now, in general,
1. to power the upper and lower halves of a receptacle separately we have to break the line-in or black wire or power tab. You can break apart the tab on the white wire neutral side but those connections are going to be made common by a splice in the electrical box anyway.
2. The line-in power wire into the receptacle box is split into two feed wires. One goes to the lower "always on" half of the receptacle line in screw while the other connects to a wire leading to the receptacle switch. The return wire from that switch then connects to the line-in or black wire or gold-colored screw on the receptacle.
(Oct 30, 2014) James said:
I am an apprentice in house wiring I wired a four plate stove like this: I installed 30A circuit breaker in the consumer unit and ran wires to the kitchen where I connected the wires coming from the breaker box to the line (input) an I connected the load to the stove I used 2.5mm. I tested the it and is working but now my question is did I do it right? is the 2.5mm ok for the circuit? Is there a negative impact the wire size will have in future?
James you don't identify your country nor voltage levels. Typically an electric stove is wired on a 220V-240V circuit, sometimes depending on stove design, some burners may use always or part time just one 120V leg. I'm not quite clear on what you did. Did the 4-plate electric stove come with wiring instructions and a wiring diagram?
Tom Planer said:
I would be embarrassed to say I allowed the pictures in this article to be a part of this page.
You really need to take a quick look at NFPA Article 110.3 and 110.4 and do it quick.
Tom, thank you for your comment.
Indeed I expect licensed electricians to know how to make proper electrical connections.
And to be familiar with the national electrical code. We do, however, often include photographs of as-is wiring as important illustrations of what's found in the real world - in the field. Showing what people actually do, right and wrong, can be useful.
While we regret that you might be embarrassed, explicit, technical comment would be more helpful than shame tossed over the electronic-wall.
Your comment to look at NFPA Article 110.3 probably intended to refer to the National Electrical Code NEC 110.3 which gives advice for the examination, installation, and use of [electrical] equipment and includes the expectation that such wiring details are inspected by the local electrical code compliance officer.
NEC 110.4 includes "The voltage rating of electrical equipment shall not be less than the nominal voltage of a circuit to which it is connected. "
Referring readers to a mere paratraph nunmber that points to lengthy electrical code specification without any specifics is not helpful.
Thanks - Moderator.
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