I have a 10 x 10 bedroom. One single pole switch, four 15 amp outlets sitting on a 20 amp circuit breaker. Each of the four outlets (typical double receptacles) -- 1, 2, 2, 3 and 4 are "hot" i.e. the single pole with has no effect. Outlet 1 has a red wire. Outlets 2, 3 and 4 are wired with white and black...no red wires.

If I want to have Outlet 2's top receptacle be operated by the pole switch do I simply break/remove the black terminals connector plate (not sure proper term) between the black terminals and it will work in on/off mode with the switch ?

Thank you in advance for taking this "newbie" question.


2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, no. That red wire is the key. Half-switched outlets need an always hot wire and a switched hot wire. Outlet 1 has that (black and red), but outlet 2 does not. You would need to run another cable to Outlet 2.


No, simply breaking the tab off outlet 2 will not work. Assuming that everything is wired in a "standard" way, the red wire is the one that is controlled by the switch.

You have 2 choices:

  1. Replace the cable between outlet 1 and 2 with 12/3 cable, which has a red wire. This makes it possible to achieve exactly what you are looking for.

  2. Figure out which black wire in outlet box 1 goes to outlet 2. Connect that back wire and the red wire coming in to outlet 1 together with another short (6 inch) piece of black or red wire, using a wire nut. You have created a "pig tail". Connect that pig tail to outlet 1 where the red wire used to connect. The downside to this method is that outlets 2, 3 and 4 are now fully controlled by the switch.

  • your answer and Bibs very helpful. I started to create the 6 inch pigtail then thought maybe the pigtail should not be 14 gauge wire but rather 12 gauge wire. (The circuit breaker is 20 amp.). There are numerous "ok-to-do" postings on having a room with 15 amp receptacles on an 20 amp breaker on StackExchange. It is unclear (to me) if the wire from the room's receptacles, through the single pole switch, back to the panel must or should be 12g or 14g ? (I suspect I have 14g -- but not sure. This drives to whether the 6 inch pigtail to be 12g or 14g.). Comments solicited ! Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 15:34
  • 12 gauge is required. See diy.stackexchange.com/questions/38576/…
    – longneck
    Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 15:40
  • thank you (yet again). I followed option 2 above + made up the 6 inch pigtail as a 12 g and installed. No luck. The new configuration does not switch (for example, outlet #2) on and off.....it stays on (hot). I did not trip the 12 amp breaker. I do not think the switch is bad (but could be). Invite comments as to what I am doing wrong . Thanks ! Ross Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 17:01
  • Just to be clear, you connected the black wire going to outlet 2 with the pigtail and the red wire, right?
    – longneck
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 19:54
  • sorry for delay in response, family weekend. Yes, I wired it the recommended way. It did not create an all on or all off situation for the 4 outlets in the small room. It still did not create in outlet #2 a receptacle that was always on (hot) and one that was switched. What I finally did (out of my frustration) was break/remove connecting receptacles' tab in outlet # 1 so top receptacle was always hot and bottom was switched. Given the short distances, will use a longer lamp cable/cord (still think there's a solution but I can't run wires or open walls). Thank U MUCH Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 15:42

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