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I live in a house built in the 50's in Maryland, US. Each bedroom contains 4 electrical outlets - configured in two 1-gang electrical boxes on opposing walls. However, with all the modern appliances, we really need more electrical outlets available in these bedrooms.

At this time, I don't want to open up the walls to install additional 1-gang boxes per modern building codes, but I know I'll have to at some point.

It's a 20A circuit. Can I just change out the current 1-gang electrical boxes for 2-gang electrical boxes?

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Congratulations on the 1000th question, BTW. – Niall C. Dec 21 '10 at 17:34
Wow! I'm a fan of the site and hope it continues to grow in users and questions. – ChrisP Dec 21 '10 at 17:55
These types of questions really need to indicate what country you are in, although the responses below strongly suggest you are referring to UK outlets, so this is not so important for this question anymore. – staticsan Dec 21 '10 at 23:17
Pardon my ignorance, but why not just buy a power bar in this situation? You can get surge protection as well, and you can get power bars with flat (low-profile) plugs so they easily fit behind furniture pushed against the wall. – gregmac Dec 21 '10 at 23:37
Currently, we do use power bars in a couple of the rooms but the wife doesn't like them, particularly in the baby's room and wants to plug things into the wall outlet. – ChrisP Dec 22 '10 at 15:21
up vote 8 down vote accepted

As long as you keep your current consumption under the rating for the circuit, that's completely OK. Getting the old boxes out will be tricky, but can be done without too much damage to the surrounding drywall; if the old box is mounted to a stud, it may be easier for you to cut the nails than trying to pull them out. You'll probably have to use a remodeling box anyway, so the old nails won't get in the way.

Depending on your local codes, you may or may not be allowed to do the work yourself -- check with your city (or whatever authority applies) to be sure.

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You can buy 1 gang to 2 gang converters here for example (UK site, but the equivalent should be available where you are).

Just turn off the power, unscrew the current plate and replace with the converter plate.

It will stick out a bit further from the wall than the current socket, but if you're not too confident about making the hole bigger they're ideal.

Niall's comment about not overloading the circuit still applies.

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We have a couple of those converters but the extra thickness causes problems when placed behind furniture. – ChrisP Dec 21 '10 at 17:53
@ChrisP - in that case you'll have to widen the extra hole as per Niall's answer. – ChrisF Dec 21 '10 at 21:38

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