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How To Add an Electrical Outlet

A set number of electrical outlets are installed when your house is built. However, you may discover you need an additional outlet or have to use cumbersome and unsafe extension cords. Installing an additional electrical outlet is not particularly difficult and is, in fact, an excellent do-it-yourselfer project. With a minimum of hand tools, most of which many homeowners already have on hand, you can add an electrical outlet to any wall in your home.


Installing an additional electrical outlet is better than using an extension cord

Installing an additional electrical outlet is better than using an extension cord

  1. You will need to find an existing wall switch or electrical outlet to extend electrical power to your new outlet location. It is best to bring power from a light switch on the wall, down to the new electrical outlet directly below it.
  2. With a stud finder, determine the stud location on one side or the other of the electrical light switch.
  3. Plumb down from that side of the light switch to the outlet height and mark the side of the stud at that location.
  4. Hold the outlet box against the wall at your stud mark and mark around the edge of it.
  5. Cut the hole in the wall with a keyhole saw, jigsaw, or sawzall. Be aware that there may be electrical wires inside the wall at that point so prevent your blade from penetrating the wall any farther than necessary.

Removing the light switch

  1. Turn off the power to the light switch at the circuit breaker panel. Test the light switch with a volt/ohm tester or circuit tester to make sure the power is indeed off.
  2. Remove the light switch cover plate.
  3. Remove the light switch from the box.

Installing the new outlet wiring

  1. Feed an electrical fish tape through one of the light switch box knock-outs down the wall toward the outlet box.
  2. Pull the end of the fish tape out of the wall and connect a length of 12/2 wire with ground to it.
  3. Pull the fish tape and electrical wire up inside the wall and out through the light switch box.
  4. Push a knock-out slug out of the new box. Pull the end of the 12/2 with ground wire through the outlet box.

Installing the new outlet

  1. Place the outlet box in the wall and fasten it with screws to the side of the stud. Make sure the face of the box is flush with the finish surface of the sheetrock wall.
  2. Wire the new outlet to the 12/2 with ground wire. Make certain to connect the ground wire to the green ground screw on the outlet.
  3. Wire the 12/2 with ground to the existing light switch. You may need to install pigtails on the hot, neutral, and ground wires of the light switch; then connect the line and load wires to the pigtails with wire nuts and electrical tape.
  4. Reinstall the light switch and light switch cover plate.
  5. Install the new outlet in the outlet box.
  6. Install the outlet cover plate.


You can wire the light switch and new outlet such that operating the light switch controls the outlet. Simply connect the light switch neutral wire to the outlet hot wire; then connect the outlet neutral to the neutral going back to the electrical panel.

If you have to cut the outlet hole larger than normal, use an oversize electrical outlet cover plate to conceal the hole.

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