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Current state: Outlet is completely controlled by light switch, top and bottom switch on and off from this switch.

Desired state: Only top of outlet is controlled by light switch, bottom to remain on at all times--even when light switch is flipped on or off.

Failed attempt: Tried to make it half-hot by clipping the tab on one side, but this resulted in just disabling the bottom, so it was always off, whereas the top would still go on and off depending on the switch.

Any way to make this work without running wiring differently from the switch?

enter image description here

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    It depends. What are the wires in the box? Is there an always hot? Or is the only hot the one coming from the switch? – bib Dec 13 '17 at 18:40
  • I'm not sure. Judging by my failed attempt, I'm guessing the bottom black wire is not hot, and maybe is a pass-through to another outlet somewhere. So perhaps the only hot wire is from the switch... – JJBee Dec 13 '17 at 18:45
  • Clipping the tab disabled the bottom half of the outlet. Did it disable anything else in the house? I would expect any downstream loads would also be cut off. – A. I. Breveleri Dec 13 '17 at 19:07
  • I never tested, but that might have happened on some unused outlets. If other outlets were disabled from this, would that mean I'm out of luck? – JJBee Dec 13 '17 at 19:08
  • From what I can see blowing up the picture it doesn’t look possible. Are there unused wires we can’t see? – Tyson Dec 13 '17 at 19:20
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If there are just two 2-wire cables (excluding ground), it looks like this outlet and down-stream outlets are all switched, and no part of the outlets can be made always hot without new wiring.

To have a half switched outlet, you need either 3-wire cable coming from the switch (always hot/switched hot/neutral) or you need always hot line directly to the outlet box and then a switch loop controlling one half of the duplex.

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Any way to make this work without running wiring differently from the switch?

Short answer: No

Long answer: It would require another conductor from the switch or another nearby box. Depending on how the circuit is wired, you need one always hot wire and another switched hot wire. This would normally require a 3 conductor cable from the switch to the receptacle.

Good luck!

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