I've read a number of questions about this topic, but I haven't found anything that seems to fit my situation. Basically, I want to undo a switched outlet (full-hot), and turn it into an always-hot outlet. I actually did this already by wiring the switch shut, as shown:

Switch controlling outlet

Basically, I capped the black and red wires together. It would appear that a pig-tailed black wire was already capped previously, as well as the two white wires (I put electrical tape on the work I do, so I know it was me).

This switch controlled this outlet:

Fully switched outlet

NOTE: It's possible the red and black (or the two whites) are in the wrong vertical order, since I took this pic after I'd already removed the receptacle.

At any rate, if I keep the receptacle as it is, the one to the right (that I replaced) works. If I put a red or black (and a single neutral/white) on a new receptacle (that only has two terminals) and cap the leftover hot and leftover neutral, then that receptacle works, but the one to the right does not. So the one to the right is "downstream", right?

My question is: Do I need to pigtail the red+black and pigtail the two whites, plug them in to the new receptacle to get it everything to work? Or is there something else I should do?


1 Answer 1


Coloring is often unreliable. But in this case, it appears colors are being used consistently. In all cases:

  • White is neutral
  • Black is always-hot
  • Red is switched-hot (or rather, was.)

It appears supply hot and neutral enters the system at the light switch. Always-hot, switched-hot and neutral is carried from the light switch to the pictured receptacle. Then, always-hot and neutral are carried downstream to the next receptacle (not pictured).

Your old receptacle has a "broken off" tab separating the screw terminals used by red and black. This allows hot to be controlled independently on each socket of the receptacle.

You are familiar with wire-nuts and pigtails, as you are using them in the former switch location.

That short length of black wire between the yellow ribbed and red wirenuts is superfluous. You can add the red wire to the red wirenut, and liberate a yellow wirenut and a pigtail. Wire nut colors indicate size (number of wires they can handle) not function.

I gather your new receptacle only has one hot and neutral screw. (USB?) Therefore you will need to pigtail neutral to the new receptacle. Ordinarily I would say you need to pigtail hot as well, note that it is already pigtailed. You could continue with that, and simply cap off the red, as it is redundant and you are not allowed to parallel wires. However, instead, I would remove that pigtail, leave only the two blacks spliced to each other in the back of the box, and land the red wire on this receptacle. That will give the red wire something to do.

  • This is, by far the best, most helpful, clearest, and generally awesomest answer I've received on any of SO/SE's sites. I cannot say thank you enough. You were 100% correct; I'm installing a USB outlet. =] I removed the two pigtails like you said, picked up a 10" section of white cable (the only hiccup is that my house has 10 AWG, and the hardware store only had 12, but I'll swap this out later if needed), attached the red/hot, pigtailed the neutrals and everything works perfectly! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
    – user26556
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 4:51

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