I moved in a house and found it very odd that an outdoor outlet is controlled by an indoor switch that is quite far from it. There are two switches in the picture, one controls lights on the deck, the other controls the power to the outlet, but why was it wired that way? Some other information

  • the outlet is at the end of the wiring home run, meaning there is one hot (black), one neutral (white), and one ground (bare copper).
  • There are many other outdoor outlets around the house and they are not controlled by switches unlike this one.
  • This outlet is on the side of the house. There is one switched outlet for holiday light specifically, it's up high under the roof (so apparently for string lights)

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PS: You can see I opened up the outlet because I thought it was broken.

  • I did this when I added an outlet to our front porch many, many years ago. That way, there is only power to the outlet when I turn on the switch. My thinking at the time was "this way nobody can steal my electricity!" Of course, that doesn't really happen all that often, and more often than not, it's a pain to have to go back into the house to flip the switch when I need power there. I've since added unswitched outlets nearby.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 12:51
  • Motion detectors, outside lights, outside power ( such as Christmas lights). Why wouldn't you have them ? I have over almost a dozen switched outside power. Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 16:25
  • Is that even vaguely legal?? A power socket on a lighting circuit? Again, I've got a UK perspective on this, where they'd hunt you down & beat you with a yellow pages if you ever did that. ;) Our lighting circuits are 6 - 10A & are radial not ring, so trying to run a 13A device off one would be ..unwise.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


This allows you to control party/garden lights from inside. You can light up the garden on a cold windy evening without stepping out.

Check to see if the dual receptacle is split, providing continuous power to one of the two, and switched power to the other. In this case there would be one neutral (white) and two separate lives (e.g. black and red) supplied to the receptacle.

enter image description here

And once upon a time in some countries it was recommended to have only switched outlets outside, so as to reduce hazards and avoid electricity theft by neighbours (while you'd be on vacation) or to help prevent burglars from using corded power tools (before the advent of battery powered tools), although I think the latter was a tale.

  • We provide a switched outlet for Christmas lights too.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 3:50
  • @LeeSam we did it for wild life viewing: deer, raccoons, bears. If the motion detectors didn't catch them, we could flick the switch to see what's in the yard. Opening a door first scares them away (except the raccoons), but somehow when the garden lights quietly go on it does not startle them.
    – P2000
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 5:18
  • @P2000 Lights go on - Deer thinks, "hey, dawn came all of a sudden....". Door opens - Deer thinks, "Human! Run for the hills!!!". You never know with critters...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 12:53
  • Our deer seem to think "good they turned on the lights, now I can see the landscape better to eat it". Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 16:28

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