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How do I connect a light to an outlet that has 2 black wires and 2 white wires and the ground?

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Posted 2014-01-19T17:04:44+0000  by nbodkin nbodkin

Hello nbodkin.  Welcome to the Community!


First off, you will need to determine whether that said outlet is being powered by 2 separate circuits, (1 per plug-in), or is being used as a pass through to power another outlet down the line.  The pass through is more common, but don't bet on that being the case.  One way to determine this is to shut off a breaker that powers off the outlet, and then test both receptacles for power.  If they are both dead then you have only one circuit.  Another way would be to remove the cover plate and look at the metal tabs that normally connect the two terminals on each side.  If they are intact, then you have a pass through.  If the tabs have been removed you either have separate circuits or one plug in which is switched.  This is an important distinction, and if you are not comfortable with determining this, I highly recommend that you contact a qualified electrician to handle this work.



To wire a light fixture from the outlet, you will need to feed power through a light switch and on to the light fixture.  You will also need a white neutral to feed the light fixture, but this is not needed at the switch.  How you route the wiring depends on what the easiest path is.


If both receptacles plugs are powered by the same breaker, I would remove both black wires from the outlet and make a 4 way splice.  Use the 2 original wires, a short pigtail to running to the outlet, and the last wire would be the power wire you will send to the light switch.  Do the same 4 wire splice for the 2 white wires, thus giving you the added wiring you need for the light fixture.  You should not just simply add a second wire to one of the terminals in order to wire you light.  A proper connection to screw terminals can only be made with one wire.


If each plug in is powered by a separate circuit, then you simply need to make two 3 wire splices from one of the circuits.  Use a pigtail to reconnect the outlet, and the 3rd wire from each splice will run to your new light switch and fixture.


Also, please see this other post I made today on wiring a light fixture:



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Posted 2014-01-21T20:06:22+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
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