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How To Install a Switched Outlet

This article explains how to install a switched outlet, where the top outlet is switched, and the bottom outlet is always hot.   Wiring a switched outlet is easily accomplished when the right steps are followed.

Q: I would like to install ‘switched outlets’ in two rooms of a new addition to my cottage/summer home; top switched, bottom always hot.

I’m not sure of the best way to do this.

Do I have to duplicate all the runs to the switched outlets?  Could I use a 12/3 or 14/3 wire and share the neutral?

Please let me know. Any diagrams or sketches would be helpful.


The easiest way to install a switched outlet is to run the power feed into the switch first, then a 3-wire from the switch to the first receptacle, and on to any other receptacles that you want on this circuit.

The 3-wire allows you to interrupt the power with the switch on one of the hot wires, and have unswitched power for the other half of the receptacle on the other hot wire.

We usually switch the red wire, and keep the black wire as unswitched hot.

The neutral conductor is common to both sides of the receptacle.  The term “shared neutral” is usually reserved for a 3-wire circuit where the two hot wires come from opposite sides of the panel (240V between them from a 2-pole breaker) and the neutral then will only carry the unbalanced load.

Don’t forget to split the hot (brass terminals) side of the receptacle when installing them, and your switched outlet will work great!

– Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician

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The Basics of Household Wiring DVD

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Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician
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