I am trying to convert a box in the ceiling, wired for a ceiling fan into a box that holds two outlets. The box is controlled by 2 separate switches, one for light and one for fan.

I want receptacle #1 to be controlled by one switch. This outlet will control 2 ceiling hung, plug-in lights.
I want receptacle #2 to be controlled by the other switch. This outlet will control a ceiling mounted projector. This would be a total of 4 outlets.enter image description here

Currently in the ceiling box is 14/3 wire (one black, one white, one red, ground). I removed a light which was wired with the black, white, and ground wires. Red (fan wire) was capped off. I will be changing the octagonal box to a 2 gang outlet box.

What is the proper way to wire each outlet?

  • 3
    We need some additional clarity here, please. Edit your question to include a picture of the actual box you have in the ceiling, and also let us know if you want a single gang (2 total outlets for 2 separate devices), or a double gang (4 total outlets for 4 plugs).
    – FreeMan
    Jan 13 at 14:02
  • Love the wire nut on the bare ground! :D You're going to have to pull that box out of the ceiling and install a 2-gang square box. This box will not accommodate 2 yokes (4 receptacles).
    – FreeMan
    Jan 14 at 15:08

2 Answers 2


Based on edits made after this answer was written, it's no longer appropriate for the OP who wants 4 receptacles in an existing box. I will, however, leave it as it's perfectly valid for anyone who wants a single yoke in the ceiling in a single-gang size box.

Take a look at the two switches. Odds are really good that one of them is connected to the red wire.

  • On the outlet, there will be a little brass tab between the two screws on each side.
  • On the HOT SIDE ONLY (brass screws, not silver), break this tab off.
  • Connect the white wire to one of the silver screws.
  • Connect the black wire to one of the brass screws.
  • Connect the red wire to the other brass screw.
  • Connect the ground to the green screw.
    • If you have a metal box in the ceiling, and the bare ground wire is attached to a screw in the box, simply buy a "self-grounding outlet" and skip this step. The outlets will be grounded simply by screwing them in.
  • Mount the receptacle and a cover plate.

Plug your lights into one of the receptacles and turn on the switch. If they don't turn on, flip the other switch. If this isn't the switch you want to control the lights, just plug the lights into the other receptacle. Label your switches (make a mental note, at least).

Plug your projector into the other receptacle.


If you do not yet have the receptacle you're going to install, I highly recommend that you spend the extra dollar or two for the "commercial grade" receptacle that will be listed as "side clamp". This will allow you to push your wire straight into the clamping mechanism on the side and tighten it down with the screw.

This is significantly easier than making a shepherd's crook in the wire and making sure that you loop it clockwise around the screw.

It's significantly more safe than pushing the wire into the "backstab" hole that relies on a little brass spring inside to hold the wire in place. These have a high tendency to fail over time and can lead to fires.

  • They say they want a two gang box, so I think they actually want four outlets. In that case they should not be breaking tabs and will need to pigtail the neutral to feed both receptacles. Jan 13 at 4:45
  • Ya know, @SortofDamocles, I read it that way at first, but then I reread it several more times and don't see that now. Based on my reading of the current question, I believe this to be correct. If they want 4 individual plugs, they'll need to be more explicit and they'll also need (most likely) to install a new box in the ceiling...
    – FreeMan
    Jan 13 at 14:00
  • One switch is for 2 ceiling hung lights. So that's a duplex receptacle. The projector probably just needs one receptacle, but a duplex for that makes sense too - just in case something else is going to be plugged in - e.g., perhaps a ceiling sound system. Jan 14 at 0:27

The black and the red go to the hot sides of the two duplex receptacles, respectively, i.e., the black to one duplex receptacle and the red to the other. The white goes to the neutral side of both receptacles. This can be done by connecting the white to one receptacle and then using a short piece of white wire connect the neutral sides of the two receptacles. Alternatively, you could use two short (6" or 7") pieces of white wire connected to the white neutral and send one to each duplex receptacle.

The above is assuming you want two separate duplex receptcles. This would be four receptacles total in a 2-gang box.

But if all you want is two receptacles (instead of two duplex receptacles for four total), then you could keep the octagonal box and put one duplex receptacle in it. You could wire it so each receptacle was controlled by a separate switch by breaking away the connecting link on the hot side (only).

(By breaking away this tab you do disconnect the hot sides of two receptacles, but you could reconnect them later for use in a different arrangement if you want to. You would connect the hot sides of the two receptacles of the duplex with a short piece of (black or red) insulated wire to reconnect them.)

This is assuming that there is a way to mount one duplex receptacle in an octagonal box and there is a proper cover plate for that mounting. For a 4" octagonal box there is a cover available that works. The duplex receptacle is attached to this cover plate and the cover plate attached to the octagonal box. This might look more industrial as opposed to finished residental, but it would save the trouble of replacing the octagonal ceiling box.

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