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An Electrician Explains How to Wire a Switched (Half-Hot) Outlet

Updated on September 19, 2017
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Dan has been a licensed, journey-level electrician for some 17 years. He has extensive experience in most areas of the electrical trade.

Source

What Is a Half-Hot Outlet?

Most of the outlets in your home are of the duplex variety—that is, you can plug two devices into them at one time. A half-hot (or switched) outlet is a duplex outlet that has one half permanently "on" or ready to provide electricity while the other half can be turned off and an via an ordinary wall switch.

While the entire duplex outlet could be turned on via a wall switch, only one of the two plug-ins is usually switched; this leaves the other half permanently powered for other uses.

This kind of outlet is quite common in modern construction. If you plug a lamp into the switched side, you can turn the light off and on via the wall switch. Half-hot outlets are most frequently found in living rooms, but can be put into any location.

Learning how to wire a switched outlet is not difficult. It is similar to wiring a regular light fixture. Find out how below.

Note: If you are installing a new outlet or pulling additional wire to an existing one, please check this article about adding an outlet; it contains tips and suggestions for pulling wire to both new and existing outlets.

A half-hot (or switched) outlet is a double outlet that has one half permanently on (ready to provide electricity) while the other half can be turned on and off via an ordinary wall switch.

Preparing the Switched Outlet for Wiring

  1. If you are modifying an existing outlet, it is almost certain that the old outlet won't need to be replaced, although if it is more than a few years old it should probably be replaced anyway.
  2. Either the square, Decora style switch or the more common semi-round type may be used as a half-hot outlet. You may not, however, use a GFI outlet (it is not possible to modify one so that only half of it is switched), but the entire outlet could be switched.
  3. If you are purchasing a new outlet, make sure that you match the outlet's ampacity (amps) to that provided by the circuit breaker for that circuit; a 15 amp breaker requires a 15 amp outlet and a 20 amp breaker should have a 20 amp outlet.
  4. After you've taken off the faceplate, on the side of the outlet, there is a small tab connecting the two brass screw-plates together. This tab allows one wire to be used to power both halves. This tab has a slot in it so a small screwdriver can be inserted to break it off. To modify the outlet for use as half-hot, use a screwdriver or a pair of needle-nose pliers to twist and break that small connecting tab. Break only the tab on the side with the brass-colored screws; the one connecting the two silver screws needs to remain intact. See photos for details.
  5. With the tab broken, the outlet is ready for use.

Turn the Power Off First!

Breaking the Tab for a Half-Hot Outlet

The screwdriver is resting on the tab to be broken. Make sure you're working near the screws that are brass-colored.
The screwdriver is resting on the tab to be broken. Make sure you're working near the screws that are brass-colored. | Source
The red box indicates the piece you will remove.
The red box indicates the piece you will remove.
The tab has been broken out on this old outlet.
The tab has been broken out on this old outlet. | Source

What Kind of Wiring Do You Need for a Switched Outlet?

  • The National Electric Code requires that all lighting switch boxes contain a "neutral", which is an electrical term for a grounded conductor (not to be confused with a ground wire). In your outlet, it is the white wire that terminates on the outlet. Whether or not a half-hot outlet is for lighting is debatable, but you must still have a neutral in the switch box.
  • There are two possibilities for the location of the incoming power: either in the outlet box or in the switch box. Either way, you will need what is called "3-wire cable" (black, red, white, and green OR metal all sheathed together: yes I know that makes 4 wires, but that's what it's called!) to connect the two boxes.
  • Check the breaker that turns the circuit off; if it is a 20 amp breaker or fuse, you will need 12-3 wire (12 gauge, 3-wire, plus ground). If it is a 15 amp breaker, you will need either that same 12-3 or 14-3 wire (14 gauge, 3-wire, plus ground). You will find that the 14 gauge wire is cheaper and a little easier to handle.
  • The Romex (NMC) wire you will be using is generally available in 25', 50', 100', and 250' rolls.
  • Make sure you purchase enough wire, as the job will usually require more than you think. To be safe, add about 20% to your best estimate.

There Are 4 Wires in a Romex 3-Wire Cable! What Do the Colors of the Wires Indicate?

  • White: the neutral. See warning below!
  • Green or bare copper without insulation: the ground wire.
  • Red: hot.
  • Black: hot.

These will all be cabled together in a sheath. Romex wire is usually used in houses.

The White Wire: A Word of Caution

Switch boxes in older homes usually used the white wire as a power wire, not a neutral. So when the white wires in a switch box are spliced together, any that go to a switch should be ignored and left right where they are.

Do not splice those white wires already on a switch to any other white wires, and especially not to the new white wire that is a part of your new 3-wire cable.

It wasn't until 2011 that the National Electric Code ruled that a white wire being used as a neutral was required in the switch box. Prior to that, it was acceptable to use the white as the switched "hot" wire, although a conscientious electrician would color it to something else (using magic marker, black tape, etc.).

So if you are replacing an older, existing switched outlet, and if it has 2-wire cable between the outlet and the switch, then the white wire is being used as either a permanent hot or as the switched power and IS NOT neutral. Care must be taken to keep it separate from other white wires.

How to Wire a Half-Hot Switched Outlet

Before you do anything, TURN OFF THE POWER! A non-contact voltage detector can be invaluable here for detecting power through the insulation of the wire. Make sure that the power is off. A nasty shock is the least desirable outcome of your project.

As noted above, there are two possibilities for the incoming power: either in the switch box or in the outlet box. These will be treated separately below.

Fluke Voltage Detector, 1000V AC Voltage
Fluke Voltage Detector, 1000V AC Voltage

As a professional electrician, I always keep one of these testers in my pocket and a backup in my toolbox. Safety is paramount when working with electricity and this tester is a great place to start.

 

How to Wire a Switched Half-Hot Outlet That Gets Its Power From the Outlet Box

This is the preferred method of wiring a half-hot switched outlet, because if the power is coming from the switch, it is most likely a lighting circuit that is intended to operate lights, not outlets. Yes, you will probably have a lamp plugged in, but the other half of the outlet could run anything. It is best if this outlet is on a circuit intended for outlets. So if there is an option, use the power already in the outlet box.

  1. In order for the outlet box to work, it must already contain one or more cables made up of black, white, and green/bare ground wires all cabled together. In order to add the switch, you will be adding a Romex 3-wire cable to the box.
  2. Cut a short 6" piece of cable and remove the outer sheath. This gives you four different colored wires to splice in with the matching wires in the box. These 6" pieces (or "pigtails") will attach to the outlet. Strip off the last 1/2 inch of colored plastic coating on each end of each wire.
  3. Next, you will splice all of the grounds (green or bare wires) together with that additional green/bare 6" piece. Splicing is when you twist all the bare metal wires together so that they're in contact. You should pull them into a neat bundle with the stripped ends all together, twist them into one, put a plastic twist-on wire nut over them, and screw it down tightly as if it were a bolt head. Hold the wire nut in one hand and tug firmly on each individual wire to make sure it doesn't come loose. Pull fairly hard to test the connection; better that it comes apart now than later.
  4. Do the same with all the black wires (and the additional 6" piece of black wire you cut in step 2).
  5. Splice all the white wires together, again with the 6" additional white piece.
  6. The loose end of the 6" ground wire will terminate on the green ground screw of the outlet. The black 6" wire will terminate on one of the brass-colored screws, the red one on the other brass screw, and the white one on the silver-colored screw. It is most common to put the red wire on the bottom screw, since that will make the top plug-in "hot" at all times and will be a little easier to plug things into it.
  7. To terminate (affix or connect) the wires, bend a hook in the wire, loop it around the screw in a clockwise direction, and tighten the screw firmly. If the wire tends to come out from under the screw while tightening, you have looped it the wrong direction. Alternatively, many home grade outlets have small holes in the rear of the outlet where the wires can be simply pushed in instead of wrapping around the screw.
  8. At the switch, put a wire nut on the white wire, capping it off, and tuck it into the back of the box. It will not be used. Splice all ground wires in the box together (if multiple switches or other wires are in the box), again with an additional 6" green/bare piece to go to the switch. Terminate the ground wire on the green ground screw of the switch.
  9. Terminate the black wire from your new 3-wire cable on one of the screws on the side of the switch, and the red on the other. It doesn't matter which one goes where.

Diagram for a half-hot switched outlet that gets power in the outlet box (the preferred method).
Diagram for a half-hot switched outlet that gets power in the outlet box (the preferred method).

How to Splice Electrical Wire (the Electrical Tape Is Optional):

How to Wire a Switched Outlet That Gets Its Power From the Switch Box

  1. First, locate the cable that is bringing power into the box. You will see at least one 2-wire cable and the added Romex 3-wire cable that you're connecting to the outlet. If this is a multiple switch location (with more than one switch in the box), there will be other cables, too. The power cable will almost certainly have multiple short wires spliced to it, one wire for each switch.
  2. Cut a short 6" piece of cable and remove the outer sheath. This gives you four different colored wires to splice in with the matching wires in the box. Strip off the last 1/2 inch of colored plastic coating on each end of each of these 6" pieces (or "pigtails").
  3. Splice all the ground wires together, with an extra 6" pigtail piece of ground wire added.
  4. Splice the black power wire and the new black wire from the new 3-wire cable together, with a black pigtail added.
  5. Splice all neutral wires together, but without a pigtail. The black pigtail will terminate on one of the switch screws and the red wire on the other.
  6. The ground pigtail goes to the green ground screw on the switch.
  7. At the outlet box, if there are cables other than the new 3-wire you are using to connect the outlet to the switch, splice them together by color: Black wires together, white wires together, and all ground wires (including the one in the 3-wire cable) together, all with like-colored pigtails.
  8. At the outlet box, neither the existing black or white wires will be used for the outlet, but may be powering other outlets on the circuit if this is not a new outlet.
  9. The ground wire goes to the green ground screw on the outlet, the white wire goes to a silver screw, the black wire to one of the brass screws, and the red wire to the other brass screw. All of these wires (except for the ground wire if there are other cables in the box) come only from the new 3-wire cable.

Wiring diagram for power in the switch box (not the preferred method, but acceptable).
Wiring diagram for power in the switch box (not the preferred method, but acceptable).

Finishing the Job

  1. After wiring the outlet and switch, fold the wires back into the boxes as neatly as possible and mount the outlet and switch into the box.
  2. Attach the cover plates.
  3. If you have any trouble here, additional instructions on changing light switches or installing electrical outlets can be found in these links. You'll also find tips on removing existing outlets and switches in these articles.
  4. Turn the breaker back on and check operation. One half of the outlet should be on at all times, with the wall switch controlling the other half.

© 2012 Dan Harmon

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    • profile image

      Lucy A 3 months ago

      Thanks for a wonderful, clear posting!

    • wilderness profile image
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      Dan Harmon 3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      If the power originates in the switch box then you will have to install additional wire because that black wire is switched and you need both that and a constant hot wire.

      If the power originates in the outlet then that white wire is most likely not a neutral at all, but either a constant hot or a switched hot. Either way it should be marked, usually by wrapping it with black tape, to indicate it is hot. In this case you already have a constant hot in the outlet box, to run the outlet, and won't need any additional wire.

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      Justin 3 months ago

      What if you only have a hot and a neutral coming from the switch

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      Dan Harmon 3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You will have to replace the wire from the switch to the disposal with a 3 conductor wire, using it to wire a half hot outlet in the wall to plug both dishwasher and disposal into. It might be possible to add both an outlet (using the disposal wire) and a second switch to control the disposal, again addition a half hot outlet or two outlets into the wall. Either way will require running some new wire to the wall, but if you could add a second switch in the same stud bay as the outlet it might be easier to do that. If so, the first switch could be removed, with the wires simply spliced through the box and a blank cover put on it.

    • profile image

      Kurt Mall 3 months ago

      Hello, I removed a hardwired garbage disposal that is turned on/off by a switch above the counter(wires below counter). I'd like to add a dishwasher to the circuit but am not sure how to connect to this wire because of the switch. The disposal is on a dedicated 20A circuit.

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      Dan Harmon 9 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Stephanie: this can be done by wiring it to the same wires, both black and white, that are used on the half of the existing outlet that is permanently hot. Presumably where the dishwasher is plugged in. Simply splice into those wires, along with the green one, by removing them and adding both the new wire and a new, short (6") piece in a wire nut with the short piece going back to the outlet where the wire had been originally. Make sure that you use a new outlet rated at 20 amps.

      Do be aware that you may well overload that circuit and blow the breaker. You already have a dishwasher and disposal on the circuit; adding a coffee pot or other high current appliance and trying to operate all three at the same time could easily overload the circuit.

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      Stephanie grantham 9 months ago

      We have a half hot outlet under our sink that runs our dishwasher as well as our disposal that is connected to a switch. We are trying to add a separate outlet to our island through the same circuit. Please help!

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      That's great! Told you it was something simple, and likely a loose connection. I've troubleshot enough of those to know! Glad you got it all working.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 10 months ago

      Got it!

      Simple, absolutely.

      Took the red wires and twisted them tightly before installing the nut.

      It all works correctly now.

      Love it when a plan comes together!

      Thanks for the help. You helped me learn something new!

    • profile image

      Ron 10 months ago

      Hi Dan, Thanks for the "to do" list.

      I will do what you suggested.

      Yes, I believe it's something that is not difficult... I Hate When That Happens!

      Thanks again!

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You spliced all red wires from the replaced outlet into one wire nut? None were left out? And the red wires are the switched ones? If that is all that was done, then the other outlets must work. Suggesting a loose wire in the wire nut that is not making good contact. Possibly, if you replaced the other outlets, a poor connection there. If the switch was replaced, either the wiring is wrong there (it sounds right, though) or a bad switch. Rare, but I have seen brand new switches that were defective.

      I would carefully double check all work done for loose connections. Is it possible that the red (or black) wires on the 4-way switch were swapped? Check that both wires on the end of the 4-way switch are in a single cable (the two wires on the same end must be in the same cable).

      Whenever making connections, whether in a wire nut or under a screw, give each wire a good hard tug to see if it will come out. Better now than later, as you install the outlet into the box and don't notice a wire falling off.

      From your description this cannot be a major problem and when you find it you're most likely going to hit yourself in the forehead with a loud "DOH!" sound. Don't give up too easily.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 10 months ago

      Hi Dan, Thanks again for the information.

      Current situation is that I followed your latest instructions for the outlet in question. I removed the red wires (switch function) from the outlet and spliced them with a nut. The duplex outlet is now hot.

      However, I have lost the "switched" function for the other outlets in the room. One half (bottom) of each outlet is hot and the other half (top) is dead.

      Fyi, when I installed the new outlet without removing the tab, of course the result was exactly as you said: the outlets were totally "hot".

      I have replaced a total of 6 outlets in that room. the outlet I have been asking your advice on was the final one to be changed. And, it seems to coincide with the "switched" function issue.

      So, I'm scratching my head at the moment.

      Also, there are 3 light switches in the room. One at the entrance and 2 others on the wall by the bed. I replaced the entrance switch and one of the switches by the bed.

      The entry switch had 2 red and 1 black wire attached. I attached the black wire to the black (lower) screw and a red wire above that, then the second red wire on the opposite side.

      The one switch I replaced by the bed was a 4 pole switch. 2 red on one side and 2 black on the other side.

      The third switch in the room is buried behind the headboard and not planning to replace.

      Any additional thoughts?? time to punt??

      Thanks

    • wilderness profile image
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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes, it will change the instructions. If you hook up all the wires just as they were, without breaking off the tab on the new outlet, every outlet on the circuit will be hot all the time. You must still remove the red (or whatever color is switched) wires and splice them together with a wire nut if there is more than one of them. If there is only one switched wire, cap it with a wire nut but do not terminate it on the new outlet.

      That way the switched part of the circuit is still intact, still not connected to the permanently hot wires, and can still function for the rest of the outlets on the circuit. It simply isn't connected to the single outlet that you do not want to be switched.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 10 months ago

      Hi Dan,

      I want to add a wrinkle to my wiring plan. I will replace the existing outlet with a new one. When I do that (and I still want this outlet to be totally hot) what if I don't remove the bridge connecting the upper/lower brass screws on the black/red side? How would that change the instructions you provided earlier?

      Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Ron 10 months ago

      Dan, thanks for the quick response. I will try your suggestion.

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm going to assume that the top half is unswitched, and that it has black wires going to it.

      Remove the red wires and splice them together with a wire nut. They will now be attached together but will not go to the outlet.

      Add another wire to the black wires. This will likely require removing them from the outlet and splicing the two existing black wires, along with two short additional pieces of black wire, into one wire nut. Put the two ends of the two short pieces onto the two brass screws of the outlet. The goal here is to provide power to the lower outlet screw, where the red wire was, while keeping the two existing black wires spliced together.

      Make required adjustments to these instructions, depending on which half of the outlet is switched, and which color wire is switched. Again, the goal is to remove switched wires from the outlet and then provide power to the terminal where they were, using the unswitched wires to do so.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 10 months ago

      Hi Dan, in a bedroom there are several electrical outlets, all half switched. I would like to make one of these outlets all hot. The outlet has 2 white wires, 2 red wires and 2 black wires attached. The other outlets are similarly wired. I tried replacing the outlet and not removing the tab on the "brass" side, however, this resulted in just making the switch non-functional. Any ideas?? Thanks.

    • wilderness profile image
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      Dan Harmon 11 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You want to replace a half hot outlet with a switch (dimmer) to run some LED lights. And you want to convert another half hot outlet into constant on.

      Yes. The first outlet has a permanent hot, a neutral and (hopefully) a ground in it. Everything you need is thus there to operate a switch and lights. If you want both switches to operate the new lights, use the switched wire as a hot - if not, use the permanent hot as the hot wire. Note that this will NOT be a three way switch setup - that both switches will have to be on in order to turn the lights on if you choose the first option.

      The second outlet also has that permanent hot, neutral and ground. All that is necessary there is to either replace the outlet OR to jumper the bottom half onto the top half and cap off the switched wire, leaving it unused in the box.

    • profile image

      mike 11 months ago

      I have a bedroom circuit, power into the switch, then into 2 receptacles on either side of the bed that are switched at the top. I want to change one of these receptacles to a 2nd dimmer switch (was well as the first one) and add 6 recessed LED lights. The remaining receptacle will be a hot-only receptacle. IS this a possible scenario?

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      Dan Harmon 11 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      That's only necessary if you did NOT separate the white wires. If you clipped the little tab and ran the two different whites to the two screws you're fine. Good to hear that you were successful with your project.

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      david 11 months ago

      thanks. everything seems to be working now...

      should I somhow connect the breakers so if one trips the other will also?

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      Dan Harmon 11 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes. It is possible to use the same neutral...but ONLY if you know which phase they are and if you know exactly what you are doing. Plus, a 2 pole breaker becomes necessary when that is done.

      So bottom line is to separate the white wires as well. And it would probably be a good idea to label the outside of the outlet (with a sharpie, maybe) indicating two circuits are used and which two. Otherwise you or someone else may turn one of them off and think that it has killed the entire outlet.

    • profile image

      david 11 months ago

      I have a situation where the switched half is a different circuit than the outlet. my question is... should I separate the white wires by breaking off the little tab between the silver screws?

    • profile image

      Alex 11 months ago

      Thank you for the feed back! I will try it.

      (Great site btw)

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      Dan Harmon 12 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      The half hot outlet will have both a permanent hot and a neutral in it. Additional outlets can be powered from either that or the switch box by using the permanent hot and the neutral from either the switch box or the outlet box. In the diagram, it will be the black and gray (white) wires, along with the green of course. Simply splice into those wires with a wire nut.

      You could even add half hot outlets by using a 3 rope wire with black, red, white and green if you would like to. Two of my living room outlets, for instance, are operated from the same switch.

      Caution needs taken if it is to be done from the switch box, however, as there will be a lot of wires in that box and a deep or oversize box will be required.

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      Alex 12 months ago

      In the example of power in the switch box, after you have set up the half hot, how do you power up other outlets past the half hot one?

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      Dan Harmon 12 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Nicholas. What you describe, a GFI to operate both a dishwasher and a disposal, will not work as there is no way to switch only half of the GFI. The switch would have to be on any time the dishwasher is running.

      To make this work you will have to install a second outlet next to the GFI, using the "load" contacts on the GFI to power it, for the disposal. That way the second outlet can be switched while leaving the GFI on at all times.

      I might also be possible to install a single duplex outlet, powering it from the "load" side of a GFI elsewhere in the room. You could then switch just half the outlet while retaining the protection of a GFI.

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      Nicholas Hodge 12 months ago

      Similar as you've answered before, but maybe a little different. I've just installed 20A outdoor gfci plug (switched from above counter) and want to plug dishwasher and disposal to it. Can I remove wall switch and attach corresponding wired with wirenuts and a half solid wallplate, or leave switch as is in on position and install sink mounted push button for disposal? This would be very helpful. Thank you in advance!

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      Dan Harmon 17 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      If the power is in the switch box, use a 2 wire cable. The power black to the switch, and black on the two wire cable to the GFI where the black would normally go. Neutral splices in the switch box without terminating on the switch at all.

      If the power is in the receptacle box, use a 3 wire cable between receptacle box and switch box. Black splices without terminating on the GFI, and goes to the switch. Red goes on the GFI where the black would normally go and the other end to the switch. Neutral splices in the receptacle box, plus terminating on the GFI, and the other end simply ends in the switch box. In this manner, the power must go from the receptacle box to the switch, through the switch and return to the receptacle box and GFI.

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      Brad 17 months ago

      How would you control an entire GFCI receptacle with a switch? My understanding is that a neutral is required in newly installed switch boxes so I cannot do a switch loop. Thank you.

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      Dan Harmon 17 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm sorry, but no. There are far too many variables to try and give an estimate of costs. From labor costs in your area to distance from the switch box (panel box?) to ampacity of the circuit and others as well.

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      BarbaraGeraghty 17 months ago

      Hi Dan,

      Can you provide an estimate for the following. I think my plumber is taking advantage of me.

      three wire romex needs to be run between the switch box and under sink receptacle box.

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      Dan Harmon 19 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      It will require a new wire to be installed. It sounds like the outlet is already switched: if so you will need a new wire from the switch to the plug. Or, possibly, from another outlet on the same circuit, but care must be taken to assure it IS the same circuit.

      If it is not switched already, then a wire from the outlet to a switch is required.

      But are you positive there isn't a black wire already in the box, perhaps tucked back where it can't be seen without removing the outlet from the box? While it is possible, it would be unusual to find a red wire in a residential outlet box without a black wire also being there, and it is typically that black wire that is hot all the time.

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      Jennifer 19 months ago

      I'm trying to make an existing outlet half hot. I noticed the current outlet only has one red and one white wire. How can I make this outlet half hot with only two wires?

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      Linda Robinson 23 months ago from Cicero, New York

      Hello Dan what a tremendous hub, so much essential information that is so perfectly worded making it very understandable, detailed and interesting. So nice meeting you.

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      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hope it helps you out. Good luck with your project!

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      Timc2 2 years ago

      Thank you very much this was very helpful.

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      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Finally got it. Yes, you will have to hat another wire to than outlet from the switch. All you have now is a switched wrote and you need a permanent hot.

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      Timc2 2 years ago

      The switch runs the outlet underneath the sink that I want to make half hot.

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      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      But what is that switch doing? What does it operate? Is it running the outlet you want to be a half hot? That will require getting another wire to the outlet box for a hour that is not switched.

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      Timc2 2 years ago

      I had not planned on installing a new switch.

      The switch box which is located above the counter contains a switch and a GFI outlet. The switch has a black wire on the top screw, and then a red wire on the bottom screw which is pigtailed to the power. There is no ground wire on the switch.

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      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Then you need 3 wires to the switch, including the green. Are you installing a new switch box and switch?

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      Timc2 2 years ago

      Yes, the outlet I want to make half hot has black, white and green. The black is connected on the brass terminal, the white on the silver terminal, and ground to green screw.

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      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Let me try again. The outlet has a black, white and green. You want to make it a half hot.you will need two colors wires plus a green between the two, but the white in a romex can be colored black or red.

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      Timc2 2 years ago

      In your diagram above it is definitely set up where the power is in the switch box.

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      Timc2 2 years ago

      Thank you for the quick response. I mispoke it is black, white and green in the outlet box. No conduit was used near as I can tell. At the switch there is a black wire connected to the top brass screw and a red wire pig tie to the bottom brass screw. They took the ground wire and connected it to a GFI plug which is next to the switch, but there is no ground wire on the switch.

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      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      If it is a Romex cable it has a white as well. Probably buried back in the box. If it is a conduit, you can pull an additional wire through the conduit. If I'm misunderstanding, let me know.

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      Timc2 2 years ago

      Great explanation, thank you. Question, I am wiring a half hot under a sink so I can run a dishwasher and garbage disposal but there's only 3 wires, black, red, and ground in the box. They had a GFI outlet underneath which I am replacing per your comments above. What is the easiest way to get the additional hot line there?

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      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm sorry, but not really. However: is there a sub panel anywhere? Does your tool trace a GFI (a bathroom should be on a GFI). Is the receptacle wired reverse polarity? Is it hot?

      Failing all else, I would definitely flip breakers until I found that circuit: it is just possible that someone wired it without being on a breaker (removing the panel front, you can check the main breaker for the Sperry signal).

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      Ed Newbold 2 years ago

      Thanks for a clear tutorial. Appreciate it. Also, I've been tracking each of my outlets down to the circuit breaker box very successfully (using a Sperry tool), but one of the circuits (to a basement bathroom that was added years later) does not trace back to the breaker box. That worries me. Do you have any suggestions/comments about this situation?

      Cheers,

      Ed in Columbus, OH

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      Sumona Ireen 3 years ago from New York, US

      good hub ..............................i like it.