Trying to set up a new pantry light. I want to tie this into the outlet that is controlled in the switch in the pantry. However when I rigged it like in this image it's all reversed. When I turn the switch off the light goes on and when the switch is on the outlet goes off. I tried switching the white and black and that did nothing. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Attached is what I'm trying to do. The dotted lines is the new light that is going in.

enter image description here

  • Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes involved, and are you OK with converting the receptacle from switched to always-hot? – ThreePhaseEel Dec 16 '19 at 5:39

First off, turn off the breaker and leave it off until you can get this fixed, or have an electrician fix it. Dangerous wiring error there.

Look at this diagram:

switch loop wiring

I suspect you tripped the breaker, possibly more than once, when closing the switch wired wrong. If that's the case, you should have an electrician replace that breaker.

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Assuming for the moment that the wires you show as red are actually white, and that everything was wired up "basically normal" originally, the original configuration was probably something like:

  • Panel -> Hot black -> white hot -> switch (not actually connected to receptacle but cables connected in receptacle box)
  • Switch -> Black switched hot -> receptacle -> white neutral -> Panel

Then you added a light bulb bridging the hot and switched hot. That resulted in:

  • Switch off:
    • Panel -> Hot black -> white hot -> light bulb
    • Light bulb -> Black switched hot -> receptacle -> white neutral -> Panel

which would make:

  • Light bulb ON
  • Receptacle power lower voltage due to voltage drop across the light bulb so things plugged into the receptacle may not work quite right.

  • Switch on: Essentially light bulb bypassed because of the much lower resistance path through the switch. Which would make:

  • Light bulb OFF

  • Receptacle operate normally

The end result is you need switched hot and neutral at both the light and the receptacle. You currently have switched hot at both but neutral only at the receptacle. New code requires neutral to the switch which would mean neutral would be routed along with hot & switched hot everywhere, but that doesn't help you here. Fixing this will likely involve running a new cable. You can't run two cables parallel as part of the same circuit, so that means replacing the 2 wires between the receptacle and the light bulb with 3 wires. Once you do that, you really should go all the way to the switch. And once you do that, you should make switched hot be red and hot black. End result:

  • Panel -> Hot black -> hot black (new) (bypasses light bulb) -> switch (not actually connected to receptacle but cables connected in receptacle box)
  • Panel -> Neutral white -> receptacle -> neutral white (new) -> light bulb -> neutral white -> switch (not actually connected to switch, just capped in the box)
  • Switch -> Red switched hot -> light bulb -> red switched hot -> receptacle
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  • Thanks for all the responses I’ll be fixing it tonight. Update coming soon. – Tim Hoste Dec 16 '19 at 12:49

As you have discovered, you can’t just put the new light in parallel with the switch. The way you did this, when the switch is on, the light is shorted out and off. When the switch in on, you end up with the light in series with the outlet and, if you use a low wattage light, like an LED, the light will leak power through what you plugged in and will light.

The first thing to check is if you have a neutral wire or wires in the box with the switch. If you do, connect the light between the neutral and the switched side of the switch. (Connect to one side of the switch. If the light is not switched, switch it to the other side.)

If the is no neutral with the switch, sorry, you cannot connect your light here. You’ll have to instead connect to the outlet box. Connect the light in parallel with the outlet. Connect black to black (or red) and white to white (don’t forget the ground).

I’ve ignored details about how to connect things like pigtailing wirenuts. If you aren’t comfortable with this, get someone to help you.

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You've bodged it up at the receptacle, and it's a good thing you did, because the way the wires to the lamp meet the wires to the switch would have blown the circuit breaker otherwise.

Right now, the switch and lamp are parallel. However, in the receptacle socket, they are in series. You didn't draw that part. They need to be the other way around.

Right now, fix the switch so it's in series instead of parallel with the lamp.

Remove the dotted black line between the two solid lines.

Remove the solid red line between the two dotted lines.

That means you'll be joining the dotted black line to the solid red.

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