It is common to find several switched outlets in your house. It is not unusual, but some people want to have unswitched outlets too.
Before looking at how to do the wiring, we must first understand the difference between these two types of outlets.
As the name suggests, the switched outlet will have a switch that controls whether the outlet is on or off. So, you can turn on and off the outlet at will.
How about when you have an appliance that always needs a constant power supply? For that case, the unswitched outlet will be ideal. It may also be called a hot outlet in some materials because it will have a constant electricity supply.
As you have already guessed from the description above, a hot outlet will not have a switch for turning off power to the outlet.
Table of Contents:
The Wiring Process
Before you can start wiring the switched outlet to unswitched, the best step is to shut off the power to the outlet.
Shut off the power with the use of a circuit breaker powering the line.
Using a voltage detector, you can test for power that might be in the line. Sometimes you might think you turned off the circuit breaker only to realize you used the wrong breaker.
Once you confirm the power to the outlet is completely off, disconnect the existing outlet while taping off the wire ends.
Taping the bare ends is necessary as a safety precaution. Always treat these bare wires with caution like those that might have power in them.
Wearing work gloves might be necessary while handling these potentially hot wires.
Now, remove the white wire from the switch that is together with the hot wires. Connect this wire to the other white wires. The white wire indicates neutral wires in your outlet.
Connecting the neutral wires can be splicing them together and then adding a pigtail.
Now, connect all the hot wires, which are black in color. Once you combine all the hot wires, add a pigtail too.
Next, have a single hot wire coming from the several combined attached to the outlet and do the same for the neutral wires. Do not forget to attach the ground wire to the unswitched outlet.
At this point, you should have completed the process of changing the switched outlet to an unswitched outlet.
This video has more details on doing the whole wiring
Why You Should Get an Unswitched Outlet
It is possible you may come across hot outlets in a house, and you wonder if they are necessary. One thing for sure is that homeowners now want that flexibility when it comes to having outlets, and hot outlets give them that.
A good example is that you can have your computer running on an unswitched outlet. Let us say the computer runs through a UPS; the device does not need the power going off. That is where an unswitched outlet would be great.
Also, if an outlet is often used to charge phones, then it could also be great. This is where the owners do not need to keep turning on and off the outlet each time they have to use it.
As much as there can be many good things about unswitched outlets, you also have to consider the downsides too.
One of the biggest downsides of such an outlet is that you cannot use it for lights, fans, and some other appliances. You want the light to be turned off each time you leave a room. The same goes for a fan.
That is why the alternative to unswitched outlets would be the half hot outlets. With the half-hot outlets, you can turn off one side of the outlet and keep the other unswitched. This gives you the benefits of both types of outlets.
The half hot outlet also needs proper installation. Getting help from a professional electrician is highly recommended. The last thing you need is to wire it incorrectly and create an electrical hazard.
The video below shows you how to wire a half-hot outlet.
What are the uses of unswitched outlets?
The unswitched outlets would be great for appliances such as freezers and fridges. So long as an appliance needs a constant power supply, it needs an unswitched outlet.
Are unswitched outlets illegal?
Unswitched outlets are not illegal. However, they might not be as common as the switched outlets in homes for various reasons. When someone hears the word that the outlet is always live, it might seem like the safest thing to have in the house.
Are unswitched outlets safe?
It is not unsafe most of the time. However, those with small children might find such outlets risky for their kids. This is because they might put spoons or fingers in the outlet. Socket covers might be necessary in such cases to keep children safe.