How to Install an In-Line Cord Light Switch

Lamp and the Couch
What You'll Need
Utility knife
Side cutter
In-line switch

When you are finished reading in bed you don’t have to reach up to turn off the lamp by using the switch inside the shade. You can use a cord light switch instead. An in-line switch can be installed in a spot that makes it convenient for you to easily turn the lamp off and on. An in-line switch interrupts the flow of electricity by turning off the hot wire. This project is inexpensive and takes just a few minutes. It is an easy project for the homeowner to do with just a couple of household tools.

Step 1 - Get the Correct Switch

Examine the cord to see what switch you need. They come in different sizes which you can match to the size of lamp you have. There are also a few design options. Be sure to get one that will work on your lamp cord. It is important to verify that your lamp cord has a plug that is polarized. A polarized plug has prongs that are different sizes so that it goes into the outlet only one way.

Step 2 - Disassemble the Switch

It is critical to unplug the lamp before you begin. Take the switch apart by unscrewing the center screw. There is a small nut on the back. Be sure to set it aside with the switch.

Step 3 - Cut Apart the Cords

electrical cord plug

Decide where you want to put the switch to make it easy to use. Using a sharp utility knife, make a slit between the two cords that is about 1” long. Be sure just to cut between the cords and not into the insulation of the individual wires.

Step 4 - Cut the Cord

Using the side cutters, cut out a section about ¼” in length in the smooth wire. Before you cut, double check that you are cutting the smooth cord with no ribs or indentations.

Step 5 - Wire the Switch

Put the cord into the channel on the bottom half of the switch. The hot wire will have small brass spikes that connect each side of the switch. Press the top to the base and push together so that the spikes penetrate the insulation and touch the copper inside. Replace the nut in the recess and tighten the screw. Be sure not to tighten so much as to crack the switch cover or strip the screw.

Step 6 - Test the Switch

Plug the cord into the wall and see if the switch is working properly.

Once you have mastered this task, you may find other cords that could use the addition of an in-line switch. If you have an appliance that must be unplugged in order to be turned off, the in-line switch will allow you to do that in one quick motion and not have to go fishing for the plug behind the appliance next time you want to use it. This kind of project is simple but adds to the comfort and convenience of your home.