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Old 09-09-2012, 05:28 PM   #1
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Stumped! Lightswitch/Outlet Combo


Hi Folks!

Lookin for some insights here. I have a storage closet that I'm converting into a wardrobe. The lightswitch is currently activated by a switch embedded in the doorframe, so that the light is only on when the door is opened. I want to replace this with a wall switch, so a person can remain in the room with the door closed. Additionally, there is no outlet in the closet, and I would like to add one. Because of the location of the closet it would be very difficult to run a new wire, and theres no room on my box even if I could, so I thought a lightswitch/outlet combo might solve the problem.

The Circuit is on a single pole 15 Amp breaker. In addition to the light in the closet, it powers 4 standard outlets, and 2 circular flourescent light fixtures. The light in the closet is at the end of the circuit.

There is only 1 romex cable in the original switch box (in the doorframe). It has 1 black, 1 white, 1 Ground. Hot and Neutral are connected to two black wires coming out of the switch, and ground is clipped to the metal casing of the switch box.

I can't seem to get the box wired so that the outlet and the switch both work. I can wire it so that the switch operates properly, but the outlet tests as open neutral. Or I can wire so the outlet tests correctly, but then the lightswitch doesnt work.

This is my first time wiring a combo switch like this so I dont know if theres something Im missing, whether I should be breaking the tab, pigtailing some connections, etc. So before I tried something that may burn my house down, I figured I'd see what the survey says. Can this connection be done with my current wire and switch? The outlet doesnt need to be continuous; if it is only active when the light is on that would be fine, since no one would need to use the outlet in there with the light off. I just want my wife to be able to run a hair dryer or something when she is in there.

Any help would be appreciated.

TD


Last edited by TimeDivided; 09-09-2012 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 05:56 PM   #2
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Stumped! Lightswitch/Outlet Combo


The white wire in the door jam switch is not a neutral/grounded conductor, if you want a receptacle in the closet you will need to run another wire

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Old 09-09-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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Stumped! Lightswitch/Outlet Combo


The white is being used as a Hot conductor for the switch. there is no neutral in the switchbox.
for a switch/outlet combo to work you need a neutral. the only way to achieve this would be to pull
a new 14/3 wire from the light fixture to the new switch.

Black would go from constant hot at light box to Black "common" screw on switch.
Red would go from Black ON light fixture to Brass screw on switch.
White would get twisted with other white neutrals at light box, and fastened to the silver screw on switch/outletd combo
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Old 09-10-2012, 05:36 AM   #4
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Stumped! Lightswitch/Outlet Combo


Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeDivided View Post

There is only 1 romex cable in the original switch box (in the doorframe). It has 1 black, 1 white, 1 Ground. Hot and Neutral are connected to two black wires coming out of the switch, and ground is clipped to the metal casing of the switch box.

Electrical 101: White insulation on a wire does not always mean neutral.

The white wire at your door switch is not a neutral. What you see with your situation is called a switch loop. The white conductor at the switch(which should be taped or marked black somewhere along its ends to indicate it is a HOT conductor) is providing power to the switch and the black conductor at the switch is taking the power to the light when the switch is closed. Or at least this is how a switch loop should be wired. It is possible that someone used the black conductor to bring power to the switch and used the white conductor to return power to the light.

See simple diagram below of a switch loop. Grounds are not shown for ease of drawing.
Attached Thumbnails
Stumped! Lightswitch/Outlet Combo-switch-loop.jpg  

Last edited by hammerlane; 09-10-2012 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:01 AM   #5
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Stumped! Lightswitch/Outlet Combo


Thanks Everyone! That clears a great deal up for me. So at this point I think I am probably better off just keeping it as a single switch, and running a new wire for a separate outlet (which I will probably hold off on since it means getting a permit). The wife will have to continue to dry her hair in the Bathroom for now. First World Problems!
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