Convert Light switch to Power Outlet (pic included)

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  #1  
Old 02-23-08, 02:32 PM
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Question Convert Light switch to Power Outlet (pic included)

Howdy Folks!

First post, though I read the forums quite a bit for supporting my misc home projects - they're always a big help!

I read some other posts relating to this, but they were a little different and the closest to my setup never quite got resolved. Figured I'd give it a fresh shot.

We recently migrated my office to a new location, and I've located some server equipment into a long closet just off the room. I've been running the gear with an extension, but it's time for a cleaner setup.

The closet has 2 light switches and a single light - I believe the original intent was probably to have access on both ends, hence the switch at each end. As it sits it only has the one door.

I figured it would help for folks to *see* the config, so I snapped a quick pic and numbered the wires! The one in the pic is actual one I want to swap, however, both light switches are wired the same way: a red (3) and two blacks (4 & 5).

When I meter them, the lower (#5) has 120+ all the time (regardless of the position of the other light switch). My assumption from reading here and the directions on the new outlet:

#1 (ground) to the grounding screw

#2 (neutral) to one of the silver screws

#5 (always hot) to one of the brass screws

Then cap off both the other black (4) and the switching power to the light (3).

The outlet is a Cooper branded, "heavy duty" (the regular duty seemed flimsy, this was $2 more) that indicates:

15a-125v; 2-pole, 3-wire, Back and Side Wire with Automatic Grounding

So my questions:

1) Is this an OK/safe change? I plan on running a couple of computers off this power on occasion (they'll be hooked up to a Cyberpower 1500 UPS).

2) Is my wiring above correct?

3) Do I need to run a small patch wire like #5 in the picture? In other words do the wires that are currently connected together like the neutral (2) need to stay together and have a small wire added, or can I separate them and use one, and simple recap the other? (Assuming the length doesn't make it too tough to install).

4) Since the box isn't metal, I understand it will not "auto ground" and I will definitely need to use the available grounding point with #1 (same question as above, use and cap or run a patch and leave the grounds "bundled").

Whew! I hope that all makes sense - looking forward to hearing from the experts and not having to run power from outside the closet!

[click for 1024x768 size if is doesn't display]

 

Last edited by DTZ06; 02-23-08 at 07:39 PM.
  #2  
Old 02-23-08, 03:10 PM
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Too Bad Your Opening Is Single Gang. You Have A Light Controlled By Two 3-way Switches. If You Eliminate The Switch In The Picture, Bye-bye Light!
I Am Assuming That This Switch Does Control The Light Just Like The One On The Other End. Is This True? Are There Any On/off Markings On The Other Switch? If Not It Is A 3-way. A Three Way Is A Single Pole Double Throw Switch. Answer My Questions And Me And The Gang Can Walk You Through How To Eliminate The 3-way And Control The Light From The Other End. You Can Even Leave The Old 3-way (on The Other End) And Use It As A Single Pole Single Throw. By The Way You Can Buy A Combo 3-way Switch And Outlet All In One. This Only Provides One Single Receptacle However. I See You Have A Neutral Available In The Box. That's Good News. Remember This Is A Switch Loop Here.
Your Power Comes Into The 3-way Switch And Lands On The Common Screw. The Other Red And Black Wires Are Called Travelers That Run Between The Two Switches. On The Other End The Light Lands On The Common Screw, Usually Dark Or Even Marked Common.
The Travelers Land On The Other Two Screws And The Neutral Flys By Straight To The Light. The Power Comes Into The Switch In The Picture Because I Can See It. If You Do Away With The Switch Your Light Wont Wont Work Because You Removed Power From It And Fed An Outlet Instead. Verify For Me The Switches And I Will Tell You How To Tie Your Travelers To The Hot Up For Continuos Power To The Other Side. Do Not Just "cap Off" 3&4 That Wont Work If I Understand Your Intent. Your Idea Is Fine And This Will Work For You. A Ground Is A Must Here For Computer Equipment. Do You Truly Have A Grounding Means? Verify.

Indii
 
  #3  
Old 02-23-08, 04:30 PM
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If you want to keep the light sw. working, and just install a recp. all you have to do is undo the black wire, wire nut and install a pig tail to the brass screw on the new recp. then undo the white wires and install a pigtail to the silver screw on your recp. and add a ground wire to the new recp. This should work because it looks like power is coming into the box then to the second sw. Are you going to install the recp next to the sw, if you are they have what they call old work boxes and you can install a double box.
 
  #4  
Old 02-23-08, 07:49 PM
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I would convert one of the switches to a receptacle and install a regular switch near the door.

INDII has a good idea to convert the travelers to be "always hot".

Tell us about the wires at the other switch.
 
  #5  
Old 02-23-08, 07:51 PM
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Thanks Folks!

FYI, I colored coded the lines - I wanted to make sure #4 and #5 were clear.

@INDII ~

I'll try to get you (and the thread) the answers in the next day or so! I understand the general idea is the power needs to bypass this junction and be handled by the other switch to allow power to the outlet and power to the light controlled by the other switch.

@|10-11 ~

I get what you're saying about the white (#2) and ground (#1), but I'm not 100% sure about which black line (#4 or #5) is used for the outlet and then what happens to the other black wire. Sounds like no big deal though!

Just to clarify I just want an outlet in place of that switch. The other switch (not shown) is wired exactly the same (I will confirm this 100%).
 
  #6  
Old 02-23-08, 09:20 PM
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Here ya go. (If you want to use the existing box.) The idea of adding a box is a good one though. Your receptacle will be at around 46 inches up the wall. Normal receptacles in finished rooms are at about 12 inches from the floor.
1) Remove wire #3 (red traveler) from switch and hot it up under black wire bundle from box.
2) Cap the other traveler #4 (black) from switch and stuff it to the back of the box.
3) Re-use wire #5 pigtail from common screw on old switch for new receptacle hot wire.
4) Pigtail neutral bundle (white) and bring to receptacle.
5) Pigtail ground wire and bring to receptacle ground terminal.

When you turn on the power you may find that the light switch (other end) is now upside down. Roll it over if you want to. If you take the switch out, remember your hot wire is red now. You could now just abandon the other old black traveler and use a standard snap switch if you really want a complete job. Shut off the power! Be safe!
 
  #7  
Old 02-25-08, 12:47 PM
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Looks like I have my answers. Thanks a bunch to everyone who posted/helped. I'll post back again when it's installed!

FYI, the outlet is going into a closet, so while it will be higher than regular spec, it won't normally be seen, so I figured no biggie

Thanks again ~

DT
 
  #8  
Old 02-29-08, 12:35 PM
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Up and running!

Good, grounded power to the outlet and a remaining switch that controls the light ++and++ doesn't interrupt the power to the outlet.

Thanks again!

DT
 
  #9  
Old 02-29-08, 11:29 PM
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No Charge!

INDII
 
 

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