How to Wire Split Outlets

Electrical outlet installation tools
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  • 01 of 10

    Turn off the Circuit Breaker

    Electrician’s Hand Turning On Circuit Breakers
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    Before you attempt this installation, turn the power off by turning off the circuit breaker to the circuit that you'll be working on. Check to be sure that the circuit has been turned off by using a tester.

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  • 02 of 10

    Remove the Switch

    A switch being removed.
    Timothy Thiele

    If you have an existing switch located in the room, remove the cover plate and then remove the switch. If you don't have a switch in your room, you'll have to add an electrical box to the wall to add a switch.

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  • 03 of 10

    Run a New Wire

    Run wire through a wall.
    Timothy Thiele

    Locate the hot wire feeding the switch and disconnect it from the switch. Run an electrical wire down the wall to the new box. Install a 12-3 NM wire that has a ground wire. Leave about six to eight inches of wire hanging out of the boxes.

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  • 04 of 10

    Strip the Wire Sheath

    Cutting the outer sheath off of NM wire.
    Timothy Thiele

    When wiring split outlets, you'll need to strip the wire sheath to access the wires. Using an NM (Romex) stripper or a razor knife, strip back about six inches of insulation from the wire. Cut off the excess insulation and separate the wires.

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  • 05 of 10

    Strip the Wires

    Stripping insulation from conductors.
    Timothy Thiele

    To attach the wires to the switch, first you must strip the insulation from the wires. Knowing exactly how much insulation to strip off of a conductor is crucial to properly fitting the wire on devices and making a good connection.

    Using wire strippers, strip off about 3/4" of insulation off of the black, red and white wires. This will allow enough wire to make the proper connection without having excess hanging out and shorting out against the box.

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  • 06 of 10

    Remove the Outlet's Hot Tab

    Remove the Hot Tab to Split the Outlet
    Timothy Thiele

    There is a tab on the hot wire connection side of the outlet called the hot tab. Locate the side of the outlet where the brass screws are located. Between the two screws and the face of the outlet, you'll notice a small brass piece of metal (called a tab) connecting the hot feeds. Simply break it off by inserting a screwdriver under it and bend it back and forth. You can also use long-nosed pliers to break it loose. Once removed, the common bond is broken.

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  • 07 of 10

    Wire the Outlet

    Wiring an Outlet
    Timothy Thiele

    Connecting the appropriate colored wire to the right screw terminal on an outlet is a must. Learn where each wire is connected.

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  • 08 of 10

    Replace the Outlet

    Install an Outlet
    Timothy Thiele

    Now, you'll need to replace the outlet in the box. When you've finished wiring the outlet, use the two screws provided on the switch and tighten them to the box via the two screw holes provided.

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  • 09 of 10

    Wire the Switch

    Wiring a Switch for Split Outlets
    Timothy Thiele

    The next step is to wire the switch. Starting with the feeder wire, locate the black wire and pigtail it to the black wire going to the outlet and also the bottom brass-colored screw on the switch.

    Connect the red wire to the top brass-colored screw on the switch. This connection is what will turn on and off one part of the outlet.

    Twist the white wires together and twist a wire nut over them.

    Twist the ground wires together and pigtail them to the box and the green screw on the switch.

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  • 10 of 10

    Replace the Switch and Cover Plate

    Install a Switch
    Timothy Thiele

    When you've finished wiring the switch, you'll need to replace the switch. To do this, screw the two screws mounted on the switch into the two holes mounted on the box. Tighten these screws snugly, but don't overtighten. Now install the cover plate by installing the two screws into the switch screw holes. Be careful not to overtighten these. If you do, the cover may crack.