How To Wire a Switch Top Receptacle

Switch-top receptacles aren’t that difficult to understand. They’re basically just a receptacle wired to a switch, however, we only wire half of the receptacle, not the entire switch. With a typical switched receptacle, we’d run 12/2 Romex from the switch to the receptacle, hook up black wires to gold screws, and white wires to silver screws. This would switch the entire receptacle, and if it’s a duplex receptacle both the top and bottom receptacles would be switched.

With a switch-top receptacle, we’re working with a duplex receptacle where we want one of the receptacles to be a constant hot, and the other to be switched. This requires cutting the tab between the top and bottom receptacle. We only cut the tab on the hot side of the device, as we still need the neutral to contact both the top and bottom devices. To accomplish the wiring portion of this, we need an extra conductor. With a switch-top we run 12/3 from the switch to the receptacle, using the red as the switched conductor and the black as the constant hot. Neutral is still neutral, ground is still ground. Cutting the tab on the hot side of the receptacle separates the two gold screws so the red conductor will control one of the sides of the receptacle, and the black conductor will feed the other with a constant hot. Easy-peezy.

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