Please note that I am a diy newbie, and the only electrical experience I have is changing out switches & light fixtures.

I want to install a new ceiling light to a switched receptacle, and I have already put a 2-line+ground electric cable from the ceiling to the switches outlet location

The power source seems to be from the switch (1st & 2nd picture) from a 2-wire cable, and there is a 3-wire cable going from the switch to the switched receptacle.

The outlet also has another 2-wire cable, which I am assuming powers the receptacle that is always hot (4th picture). Or it connects this outlet to the other 3 in the room.

The 3rd picture shows the current state of the outlet area with two 2-wire cables (one from the ceiling light and one always there) and one 3-wire cable from the switch.

pictures of the switch & outlet before & after

I’m not quite sure how to wire the outlet so that one stays switched along with the light (already removed the tab from the hot side of the outlet), and one stays always hot.

I hope I was clear. Any guidance will help immensely. Thanks in advance!

2 Answers 2


First, stop using backstabs. See how the wires go into that receptacle, jabbed into holes where magic fingers grab the wire? Those are super unreliable and will give you nothing but trouble on down the road. Switch to the side screws. In some cases you will have more wires than the side screws can accommodate. In that case use pigtails and wire nuts. Or use Leviton's commercial tier receptacles that use "screw-to-clamp" back connections, they cost (are you sitting down?) $3.

Now, get some colored electrical tape. On the /2 cable coming down from the light, I want you to wrap the black wire with red tape, making it a red wire. Do it on both ends if able. This is now a red wire. At this point, lucky us, all the wires work out to be color coded: red is switched-hot for the lamp.

Once you've done what I just said with tape marking, take the receptacle and break the "tab" off between the two brass screws.

  • all the black wires go together and to the upper brass screw.
  • all the red wires go together and to the lower brass screw.
  • all white wires go together and to the silver screw(s) which are still joined to each other.

Looks like the switch is fine the way it is. Switches have 2 screws that want the red and black wire.

Oh, you want the switched receptacle on the lower, because it will rarely ever be unplugged - if it's on top, it's in the way evertime you try to use the other plug.

  • Thank you for the clear explanations! I have done as stated, but now the switch from the curcuit box is tripped. It turned on a lamp from the always-hot top receptacle, but as soon as I turned on the switch, it tripped. Any ideas?
    – Kibora
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:35
  • Should I just leave the receptacles both always hot and connect the light wire to the switch wire? But I have a black wire from the switch wire that I don’t know what to do with... 😭
    – Kibora
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:38
  • Do I just add it to the switch?
    – Kibora
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:51
  • Weird,.. You didn't re-mark any white wires, did you? you don't have any black and white wires on the same side of the receptacle? Didn't put any white wires in wire-nuts with any other color, right? Also many of the wires have been hit by overspray from wall painting or texturing. All that must be either scraped off or ignored, painter accidental overspray white is not a white wire (unless it is) Nov 15, 2018 at 23:17
  • I did as you said, but I didn’t put a wire nut on the ground wires I twisted together. Could that be the reason?
    – Kibora
    Nov 16, 2018 at 0:25

This is simple enough

You'll need a couple short lengths of insulated copper wire the same gauge as the rest of it (1 red and 1 black is ideal, but any color save for green, white, or grey will do) and some wirenuts of the correct size for this.

In the receptacle box, with the breaker off:

  • The black wire from the /3 cable nuts with the black wire going onward to the other receptacle outlet and a black pigtail that goes to one brass screw on the receptacle. (The brass side should be the side with the tab broken off -- if that's not the case, you'll have to replace the receptacle and break the tab off the correct side this time.)
  • The red wire from the /3 cable nuts with the black wire going off to the light fixture and a red (preferably) pigtail that goes to the other brass screw on the receptacle.
  • The white wires all nut together and to a white pigtail to a silver screw on the receptacle (if there's not already a pigtail there, just add one that's the same gauge as the rest of the wires)
  • And the bare ground wires all nut together and to a bare or green pigtail to the green screw on the receptacle

Turn the power back on at the breaker, and enjoy your new light fixture!

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