I'm trying to add a new electrical outlet in my basement, and the only good source looks to be a light switch. I found a decent (except for how he never turns off the breaker!) YouTube instructional for exactly what I want to do here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p79UHZb09Y.

I was all ready to go, but when I pulled out the outlet, the switch was wired completely unlike what I was expecting. Here's a picture: photo of the lightswitch I want to extend from.

This light switch is wired very differently from any that I've encountered during my research for this project. For one, the switch itself does not have a ground screw. For another, what is that red wire?

My best guess is that I would tie in the white neutral from the new outlet with the other whites, tie the ground in with the other grounds, and then tie in the black with the other blacks on the bottom screw of the light switch. Does this make sense?

1 Answer 1


I was taught to feed the hot from the top. It could be the bottom or top. Get a noncontact voltage tester to see which one is hot with the switch in the off position. Trial and error will work here as you only have 2 choices and it will not hurt anything to use the wrong one your outlet just won’t work when the light switch is off. Other than that yes White to White, Grounds all tied together. Make sure your new wire is sized right, 20A breaker 12 gauge wire, 15 A breaker 14 gauge wire. (you can use 12 gauge wire on a 15 amp breaker just not the other way around).

  • Thanks, Ed. I have a budget noncontact voltage tester, which beeped when I got in the general vicinity of the the switch, so couldn't tell whether top or bottom was hot. Went with bottom, which is what I initially thought, and that worked! From further research, it look like this switch used a 3-wire cable (the red wire) as if it were a 3-way switch, even though this is the only switch in the basement.
    – Mike
    Feb 15, 2016 at 23:54

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