I am trying to convert a switched receptacle to be a constant on outlet, and add an overhead light that is controlled by the switch. I have shut off all the power in the room and tested each outlet to ensure they are off.

I hope the pictures provide enough detail but here is the current setup:

At switch:

  • 2 white wires, wirenutted together
  • 2 back wires, both going to the top right screw
  • 1 red wire, going to the bottom right screw
  • Box is 2" deep

At the receptacle:

  • 3 black wires, wirenutted together
  • 1 red wire, going to bottom right screw
  • 3 white wires, 2 going to the top left screw and 1 going to the bottom left screw
  • Box is 2" deep

I would like add two recessed lights in the ceiling. This is in a second floor bedroom and I do have access to the ceiling to run the wires, although I have not done so yet.

Any help would be appreciated, I searched for a bit but didn't see many diagrams that showed this wiring configuration. Thanks in advance!

recepticle switch

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped with answers for my problem and explaining the answer in a simple and consice manner! I really do appreciate it.

new wiring at switch

Hello, I thought I had it figured out. I test fit all the wires and everything worked as planned. However, now that I have shortened the extra wires and put the switch into the box the overhead lights do not come on.

Above is the new configuration at the switch, I did not modify the wiring at the outlet that was previously controlled by the switch (it now works 100% of the time). I've double checked all my connections and everything appears good, any idea where I should start troubleshooting?

Thanks for all the help thus far.

  • You haven't told us anything about what's in the ceiling box, nor what you have access to. Can you get the switch loop or power from the switched outlet box to the ceiling box? Your situation isn't really different from standard switched light setups. It's just a matter of what you can access.
    – isherwood
    Jan 22, 2017 at 16:06
  • This bedroom is on the second floor, there is not currently a ceiling box in place. I do have access to the attic and can run wire for new box. Jan 22, 2017 at 16:09
  • 2
    Please update your post to include this information. Don't make would-be volunteers scour the comments thread. :)
    – isherwood
    Jan 22, 2017 at 16:48
  • How deep are the switch and receptacle boxes? Jan 22, 2017 at 16:54
  • My apologies, I have added the requested information to the original post. Jan 22, 2017 at 17:02

2 Answers 2


raise BoxOverflowError()

The installer who put that switch and light in wasn't paying enough attention to box fill, as the 2" deep single gang boxes in there aren't big enough to hold 5 wires + ground + the double share of a yoke, never mind a new cable!

So, you'll need to add extensions to both boxes. A Raco 665 or equivalent will provide ample volume for both boxes (it will stick out an inch and a half from the wall though). Once you have the fill problem solved, then you can move on to running a new 14/2 cable to either box from the new light fixture's location. Once the cable is in place and pulled into the box, you can then follow the instructions below.

If you pulled the cable to the switch box, connect the white wire from the new cable to the existing white wires and the black wire from the new cable to screw that's now occupied by the red wire. You can then disconnect the existing black wires from the screw, nut them together with a pigtail and the existing red wire, and hook the pigtail's other end to the other screw on the switch. Finish by connecting the new ground in with the rest of the bare grounds and buttoning it all up.

On the other hand, if you pulled the cable to the receptacle box, connect the white wire from the new cable to the existing white wires, the black wire from the new cable to the existing red wire after it's removed from the existing receptacle, and replace the receptacle with a new one that hasn't had its tabs broken off (brass to black, silver to white, green to ground). Finish by connecting the new ground in with the rest of the bare grounds and buttoning it all up.

  • Awesome, thank for you help! I will work on this after work this week when I get time. I'll provide updates with any progress! Jan 23, 2017 at 10:56
  • I chose option 1 and pulled the cable to the switch box. Thank you so much for the help Jan 25, 2017 at 3:20
  • @Ericnarkiewicz -- we thank people around here by upvoting and accepting their answers :) Jan 25, 2017 at 3:33

Just to also point out for box room, you can get half hidden boxes now that are old work or new work, but allow you to have a double gang box, with half hidden behind the wall.

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