Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I convert switched outlet to hot at all times? I want to use the switch to control a ceiling fan.
Answer: Usually to convert switched outlet to hot all of the time a few simple wiring connection changes at the outlet box need to be made.
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The easiest thing for a novice to do to convert a switched outlet to hot at all times is just disconnect the wall switch and join the two wires from the switch together with a wire connector. You can then install a blank wall plate to cover the unused switch box.
However, if you plan to use the wall switch to control a light fixture or a ceiling fan, continue reading.
Photos below are of a job that I did for a client where I installed two wall switches and a ceiling fan using the existing switch location. As part of the task it was necessary to change a switched outlet to hot so that I could supply power to the new fan.
In the photo at the top of this post you can see that the switch box did not have a neutral conductor in it. The white wire on the switch was being used as the LINE (Hot) wire and the black went to the split switched outlet pictured below.
According to the National Electrical Code a white wire being used as a hot must be changed to a different color. It is not unusual to see the white wire being used as the hot conductor on a switch, but it still must be re-identified with a different color.
If you are working on a white wire that will remain as the LINE (Hot), take the time to re-identify it with another color electrical tape. Do not use green or gray. You can also use a permanent ink marker to colorize the wire.
The switch conversion job depicted below was done using plastic electrical boxes. If you are more interested in converting a one gang metal electrical box to two gang or more, visit this blog post of mine.
I submitted the electrical permit application for the job below a few weeks prior to starting the work. The inspector did not require a rough inspection because it was a small job. I only needed an inspection from the town electrical inspector after the work was completed.
In my permit application I included a one page typewritten detailed scope of work describing what I would be doing. It helps the inspector have a better understanding of what's going on.
CONVERT SWITCHED OUTLET TO HOT
First thing is to shut off the power at the circuit breaker. Test the wires with a volt meter, pigtail light bulb, or a non-contact voltage detector to make sure that they are dead. Next disconnect the existing switch and tape the ends of the wire separately. Do not connect the switch wires together.
Even with the circuit...
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