Outlet allows switch control

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  #1  
Old 06-22-06, 05:57 PM
B0b
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Outlet allows switch control

I have an outlet that the switch controls one receptical and not the other. Is this a special outlet that I need if I want to install one just like it or is it special wiring?
 
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Old 06-22-06, 06:19 PM
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The switch only controls 1/2 the outlet, allowing the remaining 1/2 to be hot all the time. If you were to pull the outlet from the box, you would note, on the hot side, you probably have a red or black wire to both of the terminals, and the tab between the outlets has been broken off, allowing for separate operation via the switch.
The wiring is special, the outlet is standard. You have a hot and neutral going to the switch and attaching on the proper sides. You break the tab off the hot side only, and attach one wire from your switch to the existing hot wire (pigtailed to the terminal), and the other wire from the switch to the other teriminal on the outlet.
 
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Old 06-22-06, 08:19 PM
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You have a hot and neutral going to the switch and attaching on the proper sides.
Larry I dont think you meant to say neutral attaching to the switch.
 
  #4  
Old 06-23-06, 04:12 AM
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switched outlet

Not sure what you're describing. Do you mean that one-half of a duplex receptacle is switched while the other is constant? This is done by removing the HOT (brass) side lug strap between the two outlets and wiring them separately, with a common neutral.
 
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Old 06-23-06, 04:12 AM
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You are right, to the outlet. Sorry for the mistake, and thanks for the heads up.
 
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Old 06-23-06, 09:44 AM
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You seem to have an understanding of it, let's just make sure for the sake of safety (you may already know most of what Iím saying but I just want to make sure, no offense is intended).

First the basic:
A duplex receptacle (outlet) is really two individual outlets that act as one because the tab between the two hot (brass) terminals, or screws, and the tab between the two neutral (silver) screws serve to keep the two outlets electrically connected. That is why you can power both outlets by connecting a single hot wire and a single neutral wire to either outlet's screws: the tabs pass the current to the other outlet (and then power the next receptacle by connecting wires the the remaining hot and neutral screws on so on). By removing the tab between the hot screws, the hot connection between the two outlets is broken, allowing them to be powered individually while sharing a common neutral since the tab on the neutral side is still intact.

The possibilities:
You say the outlet is half switched and half always hot. The first thing to do is make sure they are on the same circuit (which is probably the case) or you might have what is sometimes called a "Multi Circuit Receptacle" in which each outlet is powered by separate circuits. This is a different animal completely. So, turn on the switch, plug a couple of lamps in and shut the breaker which should be a single pole breaker (single switch). If both go out the receptacle is powered by a single circuit. If one stays on or you are shutting a double pole breaker (double size breaker with two switches joined by a bar, then you are dealing with a multi circuit setup (again this is unlikely but you need to know before going in and finding out the hard way).

Where we go from here:
Even with a single circuit there is more than one way this could be wired, so to make sure youíre getting the right information from me or anyone on the forum, take a close look at the outlet and switch and post back with a detailed description of what you have (example: 12/2 feeding outlet, neutral connected directly to upper screw, black wire connected to black from another 12/2 going to switch with a pigtail to the bottom hot screw, etc.). Once we have this information we can give you an accurate description of what you have and which wires do what. We can then talk you through replacing the receptacle.

Iím probably making this sound more confusing than it really is, but want to make sure youíre getting the right info. You donít often get a second chance if you make a mistake with this stuff.
 
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Old 06-23-06, 12:42 PM
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Thanks DDR. Actually I will be running new wiring to this outlet. I know it is possible to do this because I have it like this on a few outlets in my house. The new outlet is new wiring that is going to run outside in underground conduit to power a fountain and garden lights. I want to be able to plug the garden lights in and have them illuminate based on a sensor (the half that is always hot) and I want a switch to power the other 1/2 of the receptacle for the fountain. I don't want the fountain to run constantly.

So basically any advice is always appreciated. I figure I can pull the receptacle in the house to analyze as well.
 
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Old 06-23-06, 12:49 PM
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A word of caution.

GFCI receptacles are not the same as regular duplex receptacles. You cannot split them. You will have to use separate GFCI receptacles or provide GFCI protection earlier on the circuit.

Please make sure that you use the correct wire or cable for outdoor use and that it is buried at the proper depth.
 
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Old 06-23-06, 12:55 PM
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Thanks. I do have GFCI upstream of this outlet.
 
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Old 06-23-06, 02:19 PM
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Is there a different type of wire to be used in buried conduit? And what is "proper" depth?
 
  #11  
Old 06-23-06, 02:54 PM
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B0b,

First, my apologies on mistakenly reading the post by ďvoltsĒ and thinking it was your reply to chandlerís; thatís why I said you seemed to have an understanding but went on with a whole explanation.

Second, I didnít realize this was going to be an outdoor project. As racraft stated, this brings some extra issues into play. (Itís always a good idea to mention the scope of the project in the original post to give others a sense of what you are planning). You should also put your city and state in your profile so if anyone is aware of any local or state codes for that area they can bring them to your attention.

Third, weíll need a little more information about what you are planning. Will the switch for the fountain be inside or outside the house? Does the pump for it have any special electrical requirements (Iím assuming this is a small fountain with a small, 120V pump)? You said you have a GFCI upstream of the planned outlet so this is obviously an existing circuit. Have you checked the existing load and factored in the load for the pump to make sure it wonít overload the circuit?

Fourth, you might want to do a little more research on outdoor wiring before undertaking this project as there are specific cables and as "proper depth" depends on where you are, the type of cable, the type of conduit, etc. (it's usually between 12" and 18"). As a DIY'er myself, I'm the first to admit I'm no expert, especially on outdoor wiring, but I can say it carries a lot of extra codes with it.

Post back with any and all info you can and weíll see what we can see. If the people here feel you can handle the job yourself we'll give you whatever help we can; if not, we'll recommend a pro. Nobody wants anyone getting hurt.
 
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Old 06-24-06, 07:15 AM
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Thanks DDR for your advice. Yes, this is my first foray with wiring outside. I've done some simple stuff inside, but it isn't something I do all the time.

I'll answer your questions:
I live in the Chicago area.
The switch will be inside a 3 season room.
The pump is a 120v pump.
The 3 season room was wired when it was built (10 years ago). It is on its own line (15amps) and has 6 outlets in the room. The main outlet the electrician started with has a GFCI on it. All the other outlets are downstream from this. The only things plugged in are a fan, small TV and 2 lamps and a small stereo. the load is pretty light. I plan to add the fountain and some outdoor garden lighting to this circuit.
In doing a little more research I found that UF or TW cable is used for outdoor use. I could have just buried UF cable 12-18" deep without counduit, except for in/out points to the ground. Currently I have heavy wall conduit and galvanized piping running the distance I need, so I'm thinking I can use either UF or TW cable. My conduit is about 4" deep, but I plan on lowering that this weekend. An electrician I spoke with said with this conduit 6" is probably enough. As far as code, I tried searching the 'net for that in my village (Arlington Heights) but couldn't find it.
TIA
 
  #13  
Old 06-24-06, 07:53 AM
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May be best to use individual conductors. Since water is involved you might want to use an insulated (green) conductor for ground. The experts should be along to give better advice but six inches seems too shallow.
 
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Old 06-24-06, 10:22 AM
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B0b,

Again Iím no expert (racraft, lectriclee and Speedy Petey are just a few of the good references and frequent posters) but:

I agree with ray2047, 6Ē sounds a little shallow. Maybe itís because of the conduit, but I would still check on this. Also, if you are using conduit for the whole run, I donít think UF cable is permitted; UF is designed to be run in the earth on its own. (I think the conduit allows heat to build up rather than letting it dissipate to the earth.) You can, I believe, use THWN in the conduit.

As for looking for a local Arlington Heights code, there may not be one but, if Arlington falls within the jurisdiction of Chicago, there is probably a Chicago code or maybe an Illinois code you need to check on. It depends on what codes different areas adopt. If there are no local or state codes then you go with the National Electric Code (NEC). Again you should update your profile to show your city and state so it will appear in all your posts (donít worry, we wonít track you down).

The load you describe does seem light, but you need to add all the wattage from the lighting and the pump and see where that puts you. Also, you mention you have a TV on the circuit. I donít know how big this pump is but the pull (especially at startup) can cause a voltage drop. If it is significant enough it can be harmful to electronics. Check on this.

Like I said itís always good to get advice from more experienced members. I believe everything Iíve said above is accurate, but Iíd rather you check and find Iím wrong than to wire something wrong based on me.
 
  #15  
Old 06-24-06, 10:51 AM
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Several comments:

Six inches is not deep enough unless you are using metal conduit. Even if you are, I recommend deeper.

Do not run UF inside conduit. While you will get varying opinions as to whether it is allowed or not, it is not a good idea. Instead use THWN individual conductors (black, white, and green).

I recommend that you not use this circuit. I say this for two reasons. Number one: You will be pushing the limits if a 15 amp circuit. Number two: The pump MAY occasionally trip the GFCI. When this happens you do not want it to take out the entire sun room. I recommend instead that you find another circuit to tap, or run a new circuit from the panel.
 
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Old 06-25-06, 02:45 PM
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Thanks everyone for your instructive feedback. I am taking them when I am doing this project. Another question on the same project is should I use 12 or 14 guage THWN wire? The lenght to the outlet in the garden will be about 25'.
 
  #17  
Old 06-26-06, 08:56 AM
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B0b,

Before I give my opinion on the wires, are you running a new circuit, or tapping into an existing circuit? If using an existing one, is it the circuit you originally described or a different one?
 
  #18  
Old 06-26-06, 09:00 AM
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If you are running a new circuit (which is what I strongly recommend you do), then I suggest 12 gage wire and a 20 amp circuit.

If you are tapping an existing circuit (which would be a mistake, in my opinion) then match the existing circuit size, 12 gage for a 20 amp circuit or 14 gage for a 15 amp circuit.
 
  #19  
Old 06-26-06, 11:11 AM
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To clarify even further, in most cases you cannot get away from running UF in conduit sweeps going from the external j-box into the ground, or from the sweep up to a switch on an external wall, etc. I think the idea was to not run it for long lengths underground.

That's why you are using UF in the first place, to eliminate the need to conduit.
 
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