How to Install a Switch Receptacle

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Installing a switch receptacle combo is incredibly easy and anyone can do it. As with any electrical project, make sure the power is turned off to the circuit you are planning on working on before you begin the project. This guide is meant to be an overview of the process. If at any time you are unsure of any procedure or do not feel safe consult a professional.

What is a switch receptacle combo?

A switch receptacle combo is a single pole switch AND a regular receptacle that takes up the same amount of space as a regular duplex receptacle outlet. There are a couple distinct advantages of installing a switch receptacle combo such as space savings and increased function. It can be installed in almost every location in your home where a standard non GFCI duplex receptacle already exists. Or, like me, you can install one in an extension cord for use with mobile tools.

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For this demonstration I will be installing a switch receptacle combo in a single gang metal box in-line in an extension cord. The first step is to remove two of the 1/2” knockouts and install 1/2” cable clamps. When we are all done with the installation these cable clamps will secure the cord coming in and out of the box.

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Because extension cords need to be flexible they are created with stranded copper wire rather than solid copper wire found in the wiring of your home. As well as installing the switch receptacle combo I also want the original female end of the extension cord to be powered at all times. To accomplish this, after cutting the extension cord to feed it through the box I connected the color coded wires to create a constant flow of electricity between both ends of the extension cord. The black wire is the hot or power wire. The white wire is the neutral wire. And the green wire (sometimes bare copper wire is used) is the ground wire.

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How do you hook up the switch receptacle combo?

Before connecting the wires to the switch receptacle combo you need to determine how you want the switch and the receptacle to function. You can either have the receptacle powered at all times and use the switch to control another device in the circuit or you can use the switch to determine when power is sent to the receptacle.

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Because I previously made sure power would always be at the female end of the receptacle I chose to wire the switch so that it controlled power to the receptacle. So in this situation the green wires are connected to the green grounding screw, the white wires are connected to the white screw, and the black power wires are connected to the switch on the opposite side of the bridged connection to the receptacle.

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Any time you I am working with stranded wire I always make sure there are no stray strands of wire poking out and then wrap all of my connections with electrical tape. The electrical tape isn’t 100% necessary but it is a good practice for a little more reassurance.

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Then the unit can be installed in the box as normal.

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Followed by making sure the cable clamps are properly tightened to prevent the cable from pulling out of the box.

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And the appropriate cover is installed.

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Adding a switch receptacle combo is incredibly easy and anyone can do it. But like I mentioned earlier, if you are at any time unsure of a procedure or do not feel safe consult a professional. I ended up making two of these extension cord modifications for use in my garage. I hope you were able to find this process easy to follow. Good luck with your next project.

3 COMMENTS

  1. jay I love garden and home. please keep doing the show. You and mere mortals are my favorite shows
    I have limited tools . I can’t afford fancy tools. I love doing woodworking and home repair as well as home projects.

  2. According to the NEC you have to many conductors in the box the device is also considered when counting the number of conductors along with the connectors. you could have used a 4″ square box (also referred to as #1900 box of this application and accomplished the task and been totally legal in accordance with the National Electrical Code. Also it states in the NEC no circuit should depend on a device for continuity of the circuit. Meaning in short if you take the device out of the circuit it shouldn’t disrupt the circuits path. You could have made a pigtail and resolved this issue. What you did will certainly get the job done and safely but I’m just saying….
    Regards
    Mack

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