Typical power feed location in switch loop?


Old 05-12-05, 03:12 PM
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Typical power feed location in switch loop?

I know that what I probably need to do here is just take apart the switch and outlet and tell you which wires are where, but it will help me a lot, conceptually, if any of you could tell me where the feed from the breaker usually is located: the switch, or the outlet - given that there are numerous other unswitched outlets, on the same circuit, in the same room.....

I'm thinking it's at the outlet.

What I am trying to do is make the half-switched outlet unswitched, and then use the switch to control new track lighting. As I understand it (I'm reading Wiring Simplified right now), if the incoming power is at the switch, this might be more easy than the other way around.......comments?

Thanks for all your help! Great forum!
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Old 05-12-05, 03:56 PM
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There really is no typical; you have to examine each situation differently. Even the same electrician within the same house will alternate based on accessibility and conservation of wire.

I have four switched outlets in my house: two fed from the switch, two fed from the outlet.
Old 05-12-05, 04:52 PM
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okay, thanks. I'll let you know what I find when I get home. I was thinking though - either situation would probably work, right? I mean, depending on where the power is, I could just pigtail to the switch (remove the loop and get feed to the switch) or the outlet (if the power is at the switch, pigtail to provide unswitched power at the outlet).........is that ok?
Old 05-12-05, 05:43 PM
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Location: welland ontario
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It makes no difference if the feed is at the switch or the receptacle. You can easily change either one to do what you require.
By definition a switch loop would have the feed at the receptacle. If the feed is at the switch it is not a switch loop.
Old 05-12-05, 08:43 PM
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Okay, now that I'm home, here is the wiring setup:

Like I mentioned, the outlet is half-switched.

At the switch I have Red/Black (Red runs back into the wall, Black wire is pigtailed from two other black wires in a nut; in the switch box there are two white nutted together, as well as bare copper twisted together).

At the outlet I have Red connected into upper left, one of two holes, two black connect to 2 of 2 lower left holes, and one white in each of one of two holes in the upper and lower right.

As I look at this, I think the power is probably at the outlet....help! Is this right? Is the power at the outlet here, or at the switch (or both? in the pigtail also?).

Old 05-12-05, 10:54 PM
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No help here? Is the red wire the equivalent of the relabeled white wire in a switch loop?
Old 05-13-05, 04:56 AM
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It sounds like you are describing two cables coming into the switch box, one that's two wire, and one thats three wire. Correct? Then the blacks from both cables, plus a black pigtail are wirenutted together, and the pigtail connects to the switch. Correct? The other wire connected to the switch is the red from the 3-wire cable. Correct?

If this is all right, then it sounds like the power is at the switch. The black is constant hot & red is switched hot to the receptical. To confirm this, verify that the split receptical has a 3-wire cable coming into its box, with a red wire connected to the switched half of the split receptical, and a black connected to the unswitched half.

In that case, to run your new lights, you'll need to run a cable from the switch to your new lights. Disconnect the red now on the switch and put a wire nut on it. Wirenut the new cables white with the existing whites...same with grounds. Connect its black to the switch where the red previously was.

Now, the previously switched half of the receptical is dead. I'd buy a new receptical to replace it (note that a tab between its two gold screws has been removed). Connect the two black wires that are currently on the bottom of the old receptical to the two gold screws on the new (do NOT break off the tab). Connect the two whites to the two silver screws. Wirenut the grounds together with a pigtail and connect it to the green screw. Note: Your current receptical is "backstabbed" (wires stuck into holes in back). This setup has proven unreliable...don't use the backstabs. Now, you may find recepticals that allow you to push wires into a hole and then tighten the screws to secure the wires. If you buy those, by all means use them! But do NOT use the backstabs on the cheap 40 something cent bulk recepticals (if your wire is #12 it won't even fit anyway).

Good luck!
Old 05-13-05, 06:34 AM
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Location: Central New York State
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Your power comes into the switch box. You do not have a switch loop.

To make the receptacle unswitched, simply replace it with a new one and connect the black wires to the hot side. Connect the white wires to the neutral side. Cap the red wire and do not use it. Do not use the push in connectors on the receptacles, but rather use the screw terminals.

There are several ways that you could re-use the existing receptacle, but what I told you above (a new receptacle is the easiest to understand).

At the switch disconnect the red wire and cap it off. Connect your new wire to the switch where you just removed the red wire (black wire) and to the group of white wires (whote wire) , and to the ground wires (ground wire).
Old 05-13-05, 06:40 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
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You should not have 2 wires under one screw. At the receptacle, disconnect the red and connect one black to each screw. Replace the receptacle or half of it won't work.
Disconnect the red from the switch and connect your new switched hot to that terminal.
Connect all the white together and connect all the grounds together.

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