I have an outdoor light that's currently controlled via a light switch inside the house, that I would like to convert into a switched outlet (half hot, half controlled via the existing light switch).

However, I'm not sure if it's even possible... I opened up the outdoor light and there are three wires coming from the wall (black, white and ground). Each of these wires have a pigtail with another wire added that is then connected to the outdoor light.enter image description here

Advice appreciated!

  • Thanks - my search online made me think that I was missing a cable to make this work, so thanks for confirming. I want to plug in a security camera (so need always hot) and then still wanted a light controlled via a Lutron switch.. looks like no elegant and easy way to accomplish this.
    – Jake
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 18:04
  • 1
    although we were not able to provide the answer you wanted the information provided tells you how to do what you want. As “thanks” are not appropriate for this site an up vote and accepting helpful answers is the correct response. I know I regularly upvote good questions that have accepted answers.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 20:15
  • 1
    What Lutron switch are you talking about? There are lots of smart control options out there. Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 20:29
  • Is mixing-and-matching smart-home stuff OK by you? because this'd be doable using Insteon gear, no problem.... Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 23:50
  • @ThreePhaseEel I'm open to it if it would allow me power my Unifi camera via an outlet. Would love to hear your idea. Thanks!
    – Jake
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 21:53

3 Answers 3


As you may have suspected, you would need four wires to have a half-switched and half-hot outlet. Ground, Neutral, Hot and Switched Hot. So, you could replace the light with an outlet, but it would have to be all switched or all hot (remove the light switch).

This day and age, you could use a regular outlet and then plug in an outdoor wifi switch to it and use that to switch something while the other receptacle always has power.


There are not enough conductors present in the j-box to support a split receptacle.

You have a ground (bare), switched hot (black), and neutral (white).

The only options I see routing a new cable from the switch box or some type of smart switching module or receptacle.

After seeing your comment, you could wire it hot (or leave it on) and add a photocell or motion sensor for the light.


You'll want a bit of a different sort of smarts for this

While controlling outdoor outlets isn't the forte of most smart-switch systems, especially those that rely solely on wireless technology, your "typical" options aren't the only game in town for smart-switches. In particular, the old power-line communication standby of X10 hasn't disappeared altogether; instead, it was succeeded by an updated protocol called Insteon, and that technology provides us with several advantages here, including remote modules that can go in fixture boxes and the ability to use reliable power-line comms to go places wireless systems just don't go.

In particular, I'd replace the existing switch with an Insteon switch, but leave the LOAD terminal on the switch unconnected, only connecting Neutral and Line. This allows the switch to be used as a remote, controlling an Insteon Micro On/Off module located at the outdoor box, which gives you your switched hot for the outlet. (Note that this circuit will need GFCI protection somewhere in line to protect the new outdoor outlet, by the way; if you have room and all the necessary wires at the wallbox, putting a deadfront GFCI alongside the Insteon switch there and feeding always-hot and neutral through it on their way to the fixture box is your best plan.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.