I'm going to be rewiring my front porch light, and in the process I've decided to pull cable for a switched receptacle for Christmas lights. I'm going to install a 2 gang box for both switches (porch, receptacle), but I'd like to make it obvious that the receptacle is not just a dead switch.

Aside from putting a Santa clause switch plate on, how can I mark the switch?

  • 1
    Any time I've ever flipped a switch that didn't do anything, I've always assumed it was for a nearby outlet.
    – BMitch
    Oct 15, 2011 at 14:49
  • Why limit it to Christmas lights? Maybe you'd want some nice porch lights in the summer, and suddenly your Santa switch wouldn't make sense! ;) (I suppose you could also label the receptacle "Christmas lights ONLY")
    – MarkD
    Oct 15, 2011 at 15:19

3 Answers 3


Use a timer switch for the switched receptacle. You can get a two gang face plate that has one standard 15A switch opening next to a decora (square) opening. That's a very common configuration for a powder room, where you usually see one single pole switch next to a GFCI receptacle.

The switch I linked to is just an example. You can get one that has typical on/off functionality as well as timer functionality.

This adds convenience, as you don't have to remember to turn it on (and off) manually, and makes it obvious that the second switch controls something else. You can then label it too, if you like.

I believe Leviton makes a nice programmable timer that has a button on the bottom for an override (always on / off), which is probably what you want. Any local DIY supply house or electrical supply shop will have several.

  • 1
    This is a great idea! I found a nice one made by Honeywell. I wasn't aware timer switches had advanced so far.
    – Tester101
    Oct 17, 2011 at 14:57
  • Yes, that's exactly the kind of switch I had in mind. I know Leviton makes one just like it but cheaper, I just can't find a link to it.
    – Tim Post
    Oct 18, 2011 at 10:07
  • The Honeywell models says they work with all types of lighting and motors, the Leviton ones I could find only list incandescent lights. Home Depot has this Honeywell model for ~$30.00
    – Tester101
    Oct 18, 2011 at 12:36

How about using an embossing label maker for a text label? It should last quite well unless the glue isn't waterproof (I don't know).

  • +1. "Switch is by the front porch" or similar. Oct 17, 2011 at 13:38
  • The problem with the embossing ones is that they're a firm plastic, but curled, so if the glue does loosen (which I think they do from heat), they'll pop off. I've had good luck with the laminated Brother TZ line of tapes outside, but I've never tried them in a wet location.
    – Joe
    Oct 17, 2011 at 15:26
  • 1
    @Joe: According to the Wikipedia article, straightening the label before applying it helps.
    – Kevin Reid
    Oct 17, 2011 at 15:32
  • Don't think I want text labels on the switch plates.
    – Tester101
    Nov 17, 2011 at 14:43

Why not mark the back of the switchplate cover? Use a sharpie.

  • The main reason I want to label the switch, is so future owners will know what it controls. Not sure many homeowners would remove the cover and look on the back.
    – Tester101
    Nov 17, 2011 at 14:43

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