How to Wire an Outside Light with Constant Power and a Separate Switched Outlet in the Same Electrical Box

Instructions on Wiring a Combo Switch for a Constantly Powered Outside Light and a Switched Outlet Socket

By Mark J. Donovan




Question: Hi Mark, I am trying to wire an outside light with constant power but in the same box put an outlet in that is controlled by a switch. I have watched your video but in the video you wired the light on a switch and the outlet with constant power. I am trying to do the opposite. Can you help?

Answer: It’s a little hard to explain this in writing, but I’ll try. For the light fixture, connect the black wire on the power cable coming into the box to the black wire associated with the Romex cable that feeds the light fixture (I’m assuming you have that coming into this main box).

Similarly, connect the corresponding white wires together. Finally, connect the grounds together. Then at the light fixture connect the black wire on the Romex cable to the black wire on the light fixture. Again, connect the corresponding white wires and ground wires. Now you should have a constantly powered light.

For the electrical socket, you’ll need to add a pigtail black wire (short 6 inch black wire) to the two black wires you connected together in the box that had power coming into it. Then take the other end of the pigtail and connect it to one side of the switch. Next take another length of black wire and connect it to the other side of the light switch. Connect the other end of it to the brass screw on the outlet.

Then connect a short 6 inch length of white wire (another pigtail) to the silver screw on the outlet and twist the other end of it into the pair of white wires you already twisted together.

Combo switch outlet

Then make sure the outlet is tied to ground via a bare copper wire and to the other two bare copper wires that you twisted together.

Make sure you use wire nuts for all connections that you twist together.

When complete, you’ll be feeding power (via the black wire) to one side of the switch.

When you close the switch, power (current) will flow through the switch to the outlet. Current that goes out from the outlet feeds the fixture (e.g. appliance) and then returns back into the outlet where the current flows back on the white return. This white return sends the current back to the main circuit panel. Note, never tie grounds (bare copper wires) to return (white wires). That only happens back at the main circuit panel. Ground wires should never normally have current flowing on them.


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