Ask Electrical Question
E Books

How To Wire a Switch/Receptacle Combo Device

Lately I have had many site visitors asking me to write an article on how to wire a duplex switch and receptacle combination device.  While the switch/receptacle combo device is not common in the home, they have several unique applications where they can be very useful!

As with any electrical project, make sure that you take all necessary precautions, most important being to make sure you shut off the power.  Always review the safety page on our website.

Another valuable resource available on our site is “The Basics of Household Wiring DVD”, which is also available as an instantly downloaded e-book.  Follow this link to get your copy.

The switch/receptacle combo device is set up like a duplex receptacle, but has a 15A single-pole switch in one half, and a single 15A, 125V receptacle in the other half.  They can work in conjunction with one another, or they can be connected and used independent of each other.

Here is a diagram showing the internal function of the switch/receptacle combination device.

Here is an actual picture of a Leviton Switch/Receptacle Combination Device.

I will discuss three different possible scenarios where a switch/receptacle combo device such as this would come in handy.

Scenario #1

In your garage or shop, you would like to install a task light, like a florescent light fixture over workbench.  However, the walls are all finished so getting a new wire to a switch and then up to the light is not that simple.  However, you have a receptacle just above the bench that you can get your power source from.

You can change this duplex receptacle to a switch/receptacle combination so that you still have power in the outlet, but can use the switch to control your new overhead task light.  Fishing in a wire from the receptacle to the light fixture is fairly easy, so this is how you would wire the switch/receptacle combo device in this situation.

Scenario #2

A typical example of this situation is if you had the same scenario as above, but with a 3-wire circuit, such as in a kitchen split receptacle, and wanting to add some under-counter lighting for example.

Just as the receptacle that you replaced will have the tab on the hot side removed, here we have to remove the tab on the device as well.  This will put the light on a different circuit as the receptacle, but again will give you the desired result of a usable receptacle, and a switched light fixture without a difficult wiring renovation.

Keep in mind that this isn’t the best situation, as you now lose the required amount of circuits in the kitchen. However it is an example of how we can have the switch and receptacle operating independently from one another on different circuits.

Scenario #3

Here is a situation where your desired result is a receptacle controlled by the switch in the combination device.

Let’s say you have a task light for your shop, and it is cord connected and designed to be mounted over your work area and then just plugged in to an outlet.  Instead of plugging the light in and out every time you want to control the light, this will allow you to keep it plugged in and use the switch for control.

So there you have three examples of where a switch/receptacle combination device like this can come in handy.

Remember that if you have suggestions for a topic you would like to see me cover in the content of our website, drop me an e-mail at [email protected]

This entry was posted in Home Electrical How-To, Receptacles, Switches and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • jorge guzman

    bery god

  • G/abezgi G/medhn

    i get good information so continue posting such important information

  • darkroomer

    Thank you!!!! thank you!!!!

  • arnold

    first i was confused of the picture but when i try to focus an analyzing it i get your point this great i learn something on your post keep posting for more.



    hi, new to the site, thanks.

  • joe

    I have a basic switch with only a black and white wire in an older house. I wanted to replace the basic switch with a switch/receptacle combo with the hope of gaining an outlet in the bathroom. I want the plug to be hot whether the switch is on or off. The switch/outlet combo has the option to remove an insert between the switch and plug, or keep the two independent. I’ve tried all kinds of combinations and can get the the outlet to work only when the switch up top is flipped on. I have had little success both with and without the insert. I am thinking maybe I have to transition between the outlet and switch, changing up the white and black wires, but I am not sure. Can you please help me understand how to incorporate the outlet independent of the light switch? Thank you so much.

  • Guest

    Thanks so much for scenario 3.  I am using this connection to reduce some phanton power loads.

  • Breezyk-Mary

    Have a light switch & outlet combo for the bathroom.  the light switch works, but the outlet isn’t working .  Is there a simple way to repair it, without calling an electrician?


  • Hey, thanks for the assist, and the image. I had a project where I wanted to add a duplex receptacle to the combo with the switch operating the three outlets. After looking here and talking to my dad and electrical engineer uncle, we found the solution as shown in the attached and doctored image.

  • Hey, thanks for the assist, and the image. I had a project where I wanted to add a duplex receptacle to the combo with the switch operating the three outlets. After looking here and talking to my dad and electrical engineer uncle, we found the solution as shown in the attached and doctored image.

  • S Hill91

    cant seem to get swich/receptacle to work

  • Burma M

    Gonna give it a try, thanks for the help.

  • Wowlwowlwow

    If I have only 3 wires, wihite, black ( hot ) and copper ( ground ), how do I connect? According the scenario 1? Add a 3 inches hot wire into existing hot wire with wirenut? Then 1 hot on the left top and one hot end to the bottom right beside the outlet? The white one connect to the silver left as shown? grond is at the bottom green at right?  Thanks.

  • Manny

    Thank you. it is very informative and I get the job done at home.
    Thank you again.

  • Rachel

    I have a bathroom light switch that I would like to replace with a combo switch. Problem is that there are only two wires in the box – white & black, no neutral. Is there a work-around for my older-house scenario? Thanks,

  • Hector

    Your Scenario #3 on the Leviton Switch/Receptacle Combination Device is incorrect. It’s missing a jumper cable and breaking off the copper tab. Please revise and see if you can fix it. Thanks.

  • brokecracker

    Thanks for the Great Info., and Diagram’s. This is a Big Help.

  • Frank

    I have a Cooper Combination switch/recepticsl cnnected as Scenario #3 except the black connection is on the opposite side of the switch. This device has a red indicator light to show when it is on. I want this switch to control just the receptical part of the device. When I switch it on it works fine but the indicator light stays on even when the switch is in th off position. Where am I going wrong


The Basics of Household Wiring DVD

"If you're looking for a good reference to help you understand simple home wiring, I personally recommend 'The Basics of Household Wiring' DVD".

Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician
Electrical Wiring
Electrical Diagrams
How To
Electrical Tools
Electrical Videos