We're relocating our TV to a side of our living room that has a power outlet controlled by a wall switch. The switch is part of a double gang box (1 switch controls the porch light, the other controls the outlet). I don't want people to accidentally turn off the electronics if they hit the wrong switch but I'm not sure what the right method would be to address this. It's a trivial issue so I'd like to avoid spending too much time on it.

What are the recommended options here?

  • 1
    You could put in two three-way switches, then they could both control the porch light! That's even better than a switch that does nothing.
    – Tester101
    Oct 26 '10 at 16:38
  • You could use the other switch to install a "useless machine" as seen in this video: youtube.com/watch?v=XCEtl9CfbAU
    – Tristan
    Aug 12 '13 at 4:15

I'm surprised that the switch controls the entire outlet -- generally in that setup (in North America at least), the switch only controls one plug, and the other plug is constant power. In that case of course, the answer is to use a power bar. It may even be worth checking in the plug to see if there is constant power available. You may be able to fix the wiring to work as I've described.

If you can't fix the problem at the plug, then remove the switch, connect the wires together with a wire nut, and then install a duplex faceplate with a blank. The only way I know of to do this is to use the "decora" style blanks, and then either a duplex decora plate, or a combination toggle/decora plate.

["decora" style blanks duplex decora plate combination toggle/decora plate

  • Interesting... I didn't check the other plug as I had assumed that the entire outlet would be turned off. I'll check -- thanks!
    – Mike B
    Oct 24 '10 at 17:32
  • Thanks for the pictures too! That's exactly what I needed.
    – Mike B
    Oct 25 '10 at 16:26
  • Whether the entire dual outlet is controlled or not isn't a matter of whether you're in America; it's whether or not the electricians who wired the place bothered to get a special kind of dual receptacle that allows the independent switching, or whether they just use a regular dual receptacle, of which they probably have a bucketful.
    – Kaz
    Sep 13 '13 at 0:50
  • @Kaz What I'd call "regular dual receptacles" (the ones you can get in any hardware store for typically <= $1) have tabs you can tear off to make the two plugs independently powered. Revisiting this question 3 years later, I'd add that it's likely the electrician was lazy and/or cheap and ran a 2-conductor instead of 3-conductor wire from the switch to the outlet, so there isn't a source of constant power there. In either case, my answer is still an appropriate fix to completely remove the ability to switch the outlet.
    – gregmac
    Sep 13 '13 at 14:34

The easiest solution is to buy a switch lock or switch guard.


Like others have said, you could add a lock out switch which would prevent it from being flipped.

You could also disconnect the switch, tie the wires together, but leave the switch in the box. That way it is not functioning and if someone flipped it, it would not matter. This is what I would probably do.

If there is non switched power in the box, you could put a receptacle in the location where the unused switch will be. May look a little odd if it is in the middle of the room. I have done this at counter height plugs in the kitchen.

This is probably extreme, but if you are 100% sure you wont use this, you could replace the box with a single, add a little drywall, and fully fix it up. But i imagine this is a lot of work, and you dont want it permeant.

  • Thanks for the suggestion. Yea, we've got so much going on at the new house that I'm reluctant to commit to more drywall work. Sounds like disconnecting one of the switches would be easiest. I just wish there was a cover! =)
    – Mike B
    Oct 23 '10 at 18:08
  • there is a line of modular covers at lowe's and HD where you can customize a cover to your exact needs. Oct 23 '10 at 21:08
  • So your the one installing that one switch in every house that does nothing!
    – Tester101
    Oct 25 '10 at 14:00
  • @Tester101 every house has to have one!
    – mohlsen
    Oct 25 '10 at 14:52

Take out the switch, wire nut the wires together, and get a cover with one switch hole and one blank.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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