According to the Black & Decker Wiring book, the NEC indicates that each room should include at least one "switch-operated lighting outlet". Is that true even in rooms that have overhead lighting, or does that count as the "outlet"?

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    Think they are using 'outlet' as something you plug or screw a light in, but wait for the experts. I would have like them using 'device' instead, if saving words.
    – crip659
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 14:12
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    Your question title asks about switches, but the question text is asking about the lights they control. I've seen bathrooms where the light switch (controlling the bathroom light) is in the hall outside (east coast of Canada, specifically in Moncton, NB for the specific example I've seen, IIRC). (So you can prank someone while they're using the bathroom by switching it off for a few seconds.) Anyway, those are two separate questions, so probably best to change the title to match the question that answers are answering. Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:48
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    @PeterCordes The title was edited to conflict with the question. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 3:20
  • Can a @moderator revert the title to match the question? As it is, the title makes the question confusing.
    – LarsH
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 6:36
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    The confusion here is kind of the point. OP doesn't know what the word "outlet" means and the answers explain that. It should be clear from the title, optimized for SEO, and the body, optimized for OP's question, conflicting, that this is the case (especially after one reads the answer). There isn't any issue with having the title ask about light switches, but I'm OK with it also including the term "outlet", even if it is redundant.
    – TylerH
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


TLDR: an overhead light is a fine "outlet" here.

I think the issue is NEC definition of outlet vs receptacle

Outlet. A point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment.

Receptacle. A contact device installed at the outlet for the connection of an attachment plug, or for the direct connection of electrical utilization equipment designed to mate with the corresponding contact device. A single receptacle is a single contact device with no other contact device on the same yoke. A multiple receptacle is two or more contact devices on the same yoke.

The NEC requirement for lighting is:

210.70(A)(1) Habitable Rooms. At least one wall switch–controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room, kitchen, and bathroom.

You need an outlet, which can be a hard wired fixture, or could but not necessarily be a receptacle.

(Quotes 2017 NEC)

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    Requiements for lighting are not limited to habitable rooms, there are additional requirements that follow the quoted section for hallways, garages, crawlspaces, and more. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 15:24
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    I took the liberty of adding a TLDR. Feel free to modify or revert to suit. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 3:21

A "lighting outlet" in NEC terms (or possibly black&decker rewording, or old NEC language that may have been updated since that book) includes an overhead light.


Each entrance to a room needs a switch that can operate a light. It can be by an wired overhead junction box in the ceiling or a switched duplex outlet.

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    Most ridiculous example of this I've seen is the laundry room in my house - it's a room just large enough for a stacked washer/dryer and a refrigerator, with doors to the kitchen and the garage. Since these are both "entrances", each needs a switch, but they're close enough to each other that you can stand in the middle of the room and touch both of them at once without even stretching... Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 20:17
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    @DarrelHoffman but they want you to get to the middle of the room safely.. :-)
    – JACK
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 20:55
  • Just as an experiment I tried: I can reach the kitchen switch from inside the garage and vice versa. Don't even need to get to the middle of the room. (I'm not exaggerating when I say you can reach everything in this room without taking a step - I've seen larger phone booths...) Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 21:00
  • @DarrelHoffman seems that one switch, half-way between the two doors, would be the perfect solution. That nugget of common sense, however, is probably not allowed by code since the switch would be too far from either door...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 15:34
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    @FreeMan Yes, and sure enough you'd find an inspector that would flag it.
    – JACK
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 15:39

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