I am attempting to wire a single duplex receptacle to be controlled by two separate switches.

I want the top receptacle to be controlled by one switch and the bottom receptacle to be controlled by a different switch.

My question really is if this is even possible? Thanks!

I understand 3 way switches but that is not what I am trying to accomplish here. Hopefully the attached photo better describes what I am looking for.

The receptacles on the right are in one box and the switches are in a separate box. I do not have a /3 cable run between the boxes. enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 3
    The breakaway tabs on the sides of the receptacle let you separate them into separately switched (with a common neutral) or complete independent outlets.
    – HABO
    Aug 11, 2021 at 19:50
  • All varieties of remote-controlled options these days from several vendors.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 11, 2021 at 19:54
  • Are the switches going to be next to each other (i.e., in one junction box) or separate? Aug 11, 2021 at 19:55
  • 1
    Should also label outlet and/or switches that two switches/breakers control it. Just so the next person does not find outlet is still half hot when working on it.
    – crip659
    Aug 11, 2021 at 19:57
  • 1
    This is done quite often (though usually with one "hot" outlet and one "switched". The two circuits should be on the same breaker and grounds and neutrals need to be properly set up, but it's not rocket science.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 11, 2021 at 22:24

2 Answers 2


Yes, this is possible. It gets a little bit complicated by the relatively new requirement for a neutral in switch boxes. Assuming standard NM cable wiring (as opposed to conduit), there are two basic configurations available. The key requirement for both is removing the tab/bridge on the hot side of the receptacle.

There are two ways to do this - panel->switches->receptacles or panel->receptacles->switches (a.k.a., switch loop). I'd go for the first as it is a little easier to understand (I think...). Both of these assume that a single circuit (15A or 20A) is sufficient. If you actually need more power (15A to each of the two receptacles) then things are a little different.

Switches Together

This is for the two switches in one box. That can be a duplex switch or two single switches side by side.

Hot/neutral from the panel (or from previous always-on/daisy-chained device) in a standard black/white /2 cable.

Black hot pigtailed to hot side of both switches. If switches have a removable tab on the hot side (they wouldn't have one on the switched-hot side) then leave it in place and connect the black hot directly to the hot/common screw and no pigtail needed.

White neutral connected to white neutral going to receptacles.

Switched Hot 1/Switched Hot 2/Neutral in a standard black/red/white /3 cable.

Black connects to switched hot of one switch. Red connects to switched hot of the other switch.

At the receptacle, black and red to the two hot screws and white to the neutral screw.

Switches Separate

This is for the two switches in different boxes.

To do this without making it extra complicated, remove the tab/bridge on the neutral side of the switch, in addition to the one on the hot side.

  • Box 1:

Hot/neutral from the panel in a standard black/white /2 cable into box 1.

A /2 cable goes from this box to box 2.

A /2 cable goes from this box to the receptacle box.

Blacks from incoming cable and cable to box 2 connected together with a pigtail to the hot screw on the switch.

Whites all connected together.

  • Box 2:

A /2 cable goes from this box to the receptacle box.

Black from incoming (Box 1) cable goes to hot screw on switch.

Whites connected together.

Black to receptacle box connected to switched hot on the switch.

  • Receptacle Box

Two cables coming in (Box 1 and Box 2). The cable from box 1 is connected black to hot/white to neutral on the top of the sides of the receptacle. The cable from Box 2 is connected black to hot/white to neutral on the bottom of the sides of the receptacle.

  • Thank you for the in depth response. I edited my original post to better explain what I am doing with a graphical representation of the wiring. If I may ask, do you see any problems with my diagram?
    – J Miller
    Aug 12, 2021 at 14:08
  • So basically "switches together". A few problems with the diagram: a) a double switch has a tab (usually, not always) on the hot side (left in your diagram, but not necessarily that way physically on a switch), not switched-hot (because if it had a tab on switched hot, there would be no point to having two switches). So you actually leave the tab in place and run a single hot wire (left side in your diagram), not two. b) every cable needs to have hot/switched-hot or hot/neutral or switched-hot/neutral together. If everything in the diagram is in one big box then no issues. Assuming Aug 12, 2021 at 14:14
  • each "thing" is in a separate box: a) hot "from" always-on and neutral "from" always-on need to go as one cable (black hot, white neutral) to the switch box. b) No need for wire nut at top of diagram - this becomes one direct wire instead of one-to-two; c) neutrals not all together as shown - instead neutral "from" always-on goes to switch box, in switch box it connects (wire nut) to neutral going to switched receptacles; d) from switch box to switched receptacles box use a /3 - black & red for switched hots and white for neutral; e) on switched receptacles remove the hot tab (and connect Aug 12, 2021 at 14:18
  • two switched hots but do not remove the neutral tab, and connect the neutral to either screw. All of which should match what I described for "switches together". Aug 12, 2021 at 14:19

As noted already in comments, this is possible... but it would be unusual and possibly against code.

Receptacles have tabs joining the "hot" from the top outlet to the bottom outlet, if you break this on the hot side they can be controlled separately. Almost every time, the "top" would be controlled by a switch and the "bottom" is an always-on outlet. I'm not sure if code requires this or not as I'm not a professional electrician - there are some that frequent this Stack and may chime in soon.

And while we're on the topic of possible code violations, having two switches that are on different circuits supply power to the top and bottom of the receptacle, you would need to use two adjacent breakers and handle-tie them. Two switches next to each other and fed from the same circuit would not have this requirement.

Lastly, setting up switches and an outlet this way is semi-permanent and requires a lot of additional wiring inside the walls, so it may be prudent to consider smart switches, outlets or bulbs instead.

  • 2
    "having two switches that are on different circuits supply power to the top and bottom of the receptacle is likely a no-no." - you should justify this claim as there are many situations with multiple circuits in one box being just fine Aug 11, 2021 at 22:08
  • 4
    If the switches were on separate circuits, the two breakers would have to be handle-tied because of both serving the same yoke. Aug 11, 2021 at 22:28

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