OK, here is a problem that I need solved: To connect indoor (double) receptacle and a switch to an outdoor (porch) single receptacle so that the switch will control when the outdoor receptacle is on or off (and possibly not have any effect to the indoor receptacle). In other words I want the line feed of the indoor receptacle to also feed the porch receptacle, but I want (an indoor) switch to control the outdoor receptacle. I did it wrong -- see the approximate photo and diagram (at least I think that is how I did it). When switch is down (off) it does not affect either indoor or outdoor receptacles -- they all work with no problem. When I put the switch up (to on) the breaker intervenes and shuts down that box. So clearly, turning the switch in the "on" position connects the neutral and the hot, which I did not expect since I thought the (s)witch comes "after" the original receptacle...

So somebody help here with a neat solution: Given are: 1) a feeder line coming to the indoor receptacle (not too much extra wire to play with); all casing is metal which serves as the grounding (so the extra hair pig tails I add in the box are not necessary). 2) Porch (outside) receptacle with its wires. It is set in its position and I do not want to go through the trouble of (re)moving it. The (metal) box is also in place and I do enter image description here not want to remove it. So how do I connect these wires so as to get everything to work: indoor receptacle (preferably without interference by the switch) and outside receptacle to work when the indoor switch is in the "on" position. Uups, I have the diagram in the wiring diagram in the pdf format but I do not see an option of adding pdf file picture.

Here comes the diagram

enter image description here

  • Your diagram did not post...hit edit on your post, then use the "sun and mountain" icon to add it Oct 20, 2020 at 3:20
  • But that icon is only for the photos. I see the photo in the post. The diagram is in the pdf format, how do I post a pdf file?
    – Rado
    Oct 20, 2020 at 3:31
  • You'll have to convert the PDF to an image then Oct 20, 2020 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


If I understand the diagram correctly, you connected hot from the duplex receptacle to the switch (correct) and then from the same screw on the switch to the single receptacle (wrong). You also connected neutral to the switch (wrong). Basically, you treated the switch as if it were another receptacle, when actually it should only be in the hot wire.

  • Remove both wires going to the bottom of the switch and connect them to each other (but not to the switch) with a wire nut. These wires should both be white because they are carrying neutral.
  • Disconnect the wire going from the top of the switch to the single receptacle and connect it to the bottom of the switch. This is switched hot - when the switch is on, it carries power from the hot wire (top of the switch, coming from the duplex receptacle) to the single receptacle. This wire (and the wire to the top of the switch) should be black (or any color other than white or green).

It doesn't matter whether you have hot on top/switched hot on bottom or vice versa - with a simple switch it doesn't matter.

  • 1
    I have always tried to wire similar to labeling requirements to avoid confusion ( top to bottom, left to right and front to back). So I feed my hot to the top but as this answer explains it doesn’t matter. Always following the same method will save time in the future if modifying or troubleshooting.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 20, 2020 at 14:20
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    Manassehkatz- Moving 2 Codidact. you are correct, I thought I could get away by treating a switch as a receptacle. I will follow your instructions and let you know how it goes. As for neutral and hot wires , their colors are white and black respectively, if wires are new. This is 70 year old house with indistinguishable colors. I go by silver side and brass side if that, hoping that the original wiring was correct. Thanks again, I will let you know how it goes.
    – Rado
    Oct 20, 2020 at 23:31
  • I mentioned the wire colors more so that if you are adding wires of your own (e.g., a short wire between the duplex receptacle and the switch) that you would make sure to get the colors right. Oct 21, 2020 at 0:15
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    I followed your advice (mutatis mutandis -- my neutral wires were actually at the top of the switch, not the bottom). and voila, it worked like a charm. So you are what I want to be when I grow up -- a brilliant electrician. But I want to commend something else, apart from your expertise -- it is your great pedagogy -- you led me through the process with no confusion, just the right thing and you added an icing about the wire colors... Enough said!
    – Rado
    Oct 21, 2020 at 20:52
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    Ah, your mind is more encompassing and so much the better. It is not clear how many licensed electricians would solve the switch puzzle so elegantly (or at all) as you did. What annoys me in these trades is an overwhelming dishonesty where ripping off customers is the norm. And so I decided to learn as I go. And you are a great helper. But there is no rest, I have posted another puzzle somewhere....
    – Rado
    Oct 21, 2020 at 21:04

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