My light switch only has two wires, and I wanted to install a combination switch is it possible?enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here Im in new york and I dont know if this is even up to code with the city.

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    Not without running new wire. What you have there is known as a "switch loop", so all you have is hot and switched-hot, but for the outlet you also need neutral and ground. Also, the insulation on that wiring looks to be in bad condition... – Nate Strickland Mar 15 at 18:05
  • @NateStrickland Yeah I’m not a professional so maybe I’ll leave it as is. Unfortunately my landlord I’m sure will not help me update this outdated fixture. – Enders I Mar 15 at 18:10
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    It's still legal. Current code requires a neutral the wiring is grandfathered (no requirement to update). Unfortunately you will not be able to use the combo switch outlet with out rewiring. – Ed Beal Mar 15 at 18:56
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    If you are acting without permission from this landlord, stop right now and put it back the way you found it, you are not allowed to alter any part of the building without permission. Also only a licensed electrician can work on a rental property. But in this case, your enemy is physics: No neutral, no receptacle. Sorry. – Harper Mar 15 at 19:38

Two wires means you have a hot and a switched hot. You don't have a neutral, which is required for the outlet. So you can't hook that up.

You'll need to run 3 line wire so you have a proper neutral.


Based on a comment to the original question, this is a rental unit. In many places, doing your own electrical work, while allowed if you own your own home, is not permitted if you rent your home. In addition, the landlord is typically also prohibited from doing any electrical work. Which means it requires a licensed electrician, which often means the landlord will not be interested in getting any electrical work done unless required for safety as the cost can be significant.

That being said, conceptually (or practically, if you were doing this in a home you own or if you hired an electrician to do the job):

There are, essentially, three code compliant ways that a switch can be installed:

  • Power -> switch -> switched device

In this scenario, hot & neutral go to the switch box. Hot connects to the switch. Neutral passes through to the switched device. The other side of the switch has switched hot which goes to the switched device. In this scenario, you have hot & neutral in the box and can connect a switch/receptacle combination device. But you don't have this.

  • Power -> switched device -> switch, with neutral in the switch box

This is the way new switch loops are supposed to be installed. With this scenario, neutral is provided in the switch box for use with smart switches, timers and other devices. New code (I believe 2011 NEC) requires this now in most switch boxes. But you don't have this.

  • Power -> switched device -> switch, with only hot & switched hot in the switch box

This appears to be your situation, and until recently it was perfectly legal, and it is legal if you don't change anything (except, of course, you actually want to change something). You have hot, but you don't have neutral. The only way to install an always hot device here, or a smart switch or anything else that requires a neutral, is to run a new cable. The work involved to do this can vary considerably depending on how far you have to run the cable, whether you have conduit or not, the type of walls (in case you need to cut holes to run the cable) and other factors.

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