I live in Minnesota, in a house that was gutted and rewired within the past 5 years. There's a big closet I'm converting into a reading room. It doesn't have a wall outlet, but does have a light switch. I was hoping I could replace the light switch with a switch/outlet combination.

The existing switch has two hot black wires going to it. The box also contains a pigtail of white wires and a pigtail of grounding wires. (Pictures below)

Does this seem like a possibility? If so, how would I wire the switch/outlet combination?

The existing switch:

enter image description here

The switch/outlet combination:

enter image description here enter image description here

  • is there a link between the two screws on the hot side? (bottom image: two screws on left)
    – jsotola
    Jan 25, 2019 at 4:43

2 Answers 2


The two wires from the old switch go on the two top screws, hot on left and switched hot on right.

Add pigtails to the black and white and ground bundles with the wire nuts.

Black goes on hot side (left bottom screw).

White goes on right bottom screw.

Bare copper goes to green screw.

If there is metal link between the two screws on the hot side, then you could leave off the pigtail on the top screw.

enter image description here

  • Thank you! I'll try it this evening. Can I ask how you know this (aside from probably having done this a lot)? I see where it says "hot/white wire", but how do you know that a black wire should be attached to the "white wire" side? I always feel really nervous about getting wiring wrong, so I appreciate any insight. :) Jan 25, 2019 at 15:13
  • Also, would the metal link just be a strip of metal on the outside of the unit between the two screws? Jan 25, 2019 at 15:13
  • ...and also, +1 for the fantastic artwork. :) Jan 25, 2019 at 16:34
  • the top black wire on the right side (you called it white side), is the wire that goes to the light (one of the white wires probably goes with it to the light) ..... it is one of the black wires that was on the original switch ..... the top two wires get connected together when you flip the new switch
    – jsotola
    Jan 25, 2019 at 18:57
  • the link is found on regular power outlets ... i am unsure if this device also has one ..... maybe post a picture of the left side of the plug (bottom picture left side)
    – jsotola
    Jan 25, 2019 at 19:02

A switched outlet needs exactly the same 3 wires as a smart switch:

  • always-hot so the switch has something to switch, and for the receptacle
  • Neutral to power the smart switch itself, or the return for the receptacle
  • Switched-hot because that's what the switch sends to the lamp.

Any switch already has always-hot and switched-hot, because that's what switches do. As for neutral, look in the box and there it is - one single bundle that's all-white. Don't disturb any other wires in there.

Neutral connects to the only place it can, notably a silver screw. Always-hot will be shared. Though honestly, just guess. If you mix up the two hots, the only thing that'll happen is the receptacle will be switched. In that case, swap the hots.

And ground of course, we don't mention grounds because it's not an active circuit wire (we hope) and it's very simple to hook up (all grounds connect to all grounds).

  • I was wondering about the ground. I always thought that everything should be grounded. What's an active circuit wire? Jan 25, 2019 at 16:28
  • @RobertAKARobin I didn't say it very well. Grounds are needed. They don't flow any current except during fault conditions. Jan 25, 2019 at 16:31
  • Any thoughts as to why the ground isn't connected to the current switch? I understand that it may not be strictly necessary, but it's basically no effort to connect it. A couple other switches in the house don't have grounds either. Jan 25, 2019 at 16:34
  • @RobertAKARobin i suspect at one time, Code did not require switches to be grounded. Jan 25, 2019 at 16:45

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