Installing an outlet at existing switch location


Old 07-09-05, 07:04 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 21
Installing an outlet at existing switch location

Our foyer has a wall switch to control a ceiling lite but there is no electrical outlet. Is it possible to install an outlet in the same location where the switch is and have them both work. I'm probably not explaining this properly but what I want to do is replace an on/off switch with a piece that has both a switch and an outlet.
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Old 07-09-05, 07:18 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Maybe, maybe not. If you have power (both a hot wire and neutral) then yes, you can add a receptacle. If you only have a switch loop then you cannot add a receptacle without rewiring.

Have you looked into the switch box to see what wires are presently there? How many wires, what color are they and how are they connected?
Old 07-09-05, 07:20 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Somewhere around one third of the time it is possible. If possible, it's easy. First you need to shut off the breaker, gently pull the switch out of the box without disconnecting any wires, and examine it carefully.
  1. If there is a white wire connected to the switch, stop now. It's not possible.
  2. Look at the switch lever. Does it say "on" and "off" on the lever, or is the lever blank? If the lever says "on" and "off", and if there are two white wires in the back of the box connected to each other, then stop now. It is possible.
  3. If the lever is blank, this is a 3-way or 4-way switch (or perhaps a Decora switch). If you are in this situation, describe to us all the wiring in the box.
As soon as you tell us what you found, we'll go from there.

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