Need Help Swapping a Switch for an Outlet


Old 10-23-06, 07:24 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2
Need Help Swapping a Switch for an Outlet

Any help on this would be appreciated.

I have a double switch box that controls two lights. Each switch has its own dedicated light, both on the same circuit. I would like to remove one of the switches from the box and replace it with an outlet. That would leave me with a single switch that I would use to control both fixtures. I would also use the switch on the outlet if necessary.

The power source for both switches runs through the fixtures and then to the switch. So, when I open the switch box all I see are a black and white wire connected to each switch. There are no other wires or connections in the box. Two sets of black and white, with one set going to each switch.

Is it possible to modify the existing configuration to get the single switch and outlet without running any new wires between the switch box and the fixtures?

In the switch box, if I touch those two black wires together all of the lights come on dim. If I touch the white wires together, the circuit blows. That's as far as I got.

Thanks in advance -
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Old 10-23-06, 07:28 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Tell us ALL the wires at the switch box and how they are connected. Tell us ALL the wires at each light and how they are connected. Then we can answer the question.

Be specific. Tell us how many cables are present and how the wires in each cable are connected. And I do mean ALL the cables and wires, even if they are wired to something else that you don't feel is important.
Old 10-23-06, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Ontario Canada
Posts: 1,767
Only if you have access to the fixtures, and they are fed off the same circuit, you can likely reconfigure the circuit somehow, or replace one of the two wire cables with a three wire cable (most straightforware, second to adding a running a whole line for a separate recepticle.

Last edited by classicsat; 10-23-06 at 10:47 AM.
Old 12-30-06, 11:42 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Mid TN
Posts: 188
It sounds like you have two switch loops. This does NOT mean that they are on the same ckt (just curious, how did you figure ut they are on the same ckt?) What i believe you have is two switch loops from the light fixtures to the switch box which means the hot and neutral from the ckt goes to te fixture and then to the switch (all you are doing in the switch box is breaking the hot BACK to the fixture.) When you touch the blacks (btw this is not an approved way of doing anything, i know its sometimes easier to figure a ckt out when its hot than when its off but this is not safe and you open yourself up to alot of pain and possible danger)

If this is your configuration you cannot put a receptacle in the place of either switch (as it currently stands) You would need another neutral (which with NM-b wire means you would also need another hot.) If this were my situation heres what i would do.

Look at the switch box and locate the nearest recep. (hopefully within the same stud cavity. turn the ckt off that controls that recep as well as the ckt(s) that control the lights. Remove the 2 gang box from the wall with a sawzall (CAREFULLY, so as not to damage the wires. and run a new NM wire to the plug that you have located) then buy a 3-gang box and cut the ears off of it and line it up with the 2-gang hole and cut the remaining sheet rock out of the way so you will be able to install the 3-gang. push all the wires into the 3-gang and push it into the wall. seure to the stud using 1.5 inch sheetrock screws (3 usually) and replace switches as they were and install the new recep. This would be the more correct and safer/easier way of doing this given the limited knowledge of our situation. Good luck.
Old 12-30-06, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,677
You have two switch loops. You can possibly wire one to control both light if yo have cables between the light that could be changed or added to connect the light together. Then you could use the other cable for the power to the receptacle. As it is right now yo do not have a neutral conductor inthe box and can ot put in a receptacle.
Old 12-30-06, 07:52 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: North of Boston, MA.
Posts: 2,113

2 switch loops for sure, no neutral.
The fact that a ckt breaker tripped when the whites (which should be re-identified)were touched, would indicate to me there are 2 ckts involved.

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