Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install an indoor electric outlet.
Every now and then, there arises a need – in your house or office – to install an electrical outlet. It could be due to many reasons.
You may have plans to revamp your room, want to add a lamp, are looking to incorporate television, installing a power source to strengthen your security via a motion camera, or simply want an outlet near you because you require a nearby charging port.
Having an electric outlet right beside you or where you want it not only reduces inconvenience, but you can be free from using unsightly and risky extension wires.
The installation of an electric outlet at the place of your choice shouldn’t take more than 40-50 minutes and £20-25, depending on the distance from the current power source.
Let’s now tell you what tools will help you in the process.
- Slotted Screwdriver
- Tape Measure
- Box knife/any knife
- Wire Cutters
Other handy tools:
- Outlet Tester
- Electrical Tape
- Voltage Tester
- Stud Finder
- Wire Connectors
- Wire (14-2G AWG)
- Outlet (15 AMP)
- Outlet-Face Plate
- ‘Old Work’ Electrical Box: These boxes are used when there is no access to the stud. These boxes are mostly fixed with drywall and used for remodelling.
- ‘New Work’ Electrical boxes: These are used only when the drywall isn’t installed. Here you can attach the electrical box to the studs within the wall.
Locating a nearby power source
You have to find an electric outlet to connect it to your new one. A nearby source would make your job easy and will take less wire too.
The existing power source must suit your power requirements.
For instance, is it serving the same purpose as the new one you are planning to install?
If the answer is yes, go ahead with your operations. If no, choose a power source that is intended for the same purpose.
Note: High voltage outlets intended for heavy machinery like cloth dryers, irons, ovens, etc., may not serve you well when connecting to a standard outlet. You can use light switches to power your new outlet as it doesn’t involve any danger.
In the end, check to make sure that the power source is in the right condition and working as intended. You can check it by voltage tester.
If you don’t have one, plug in any electrical appliance in the outlet to check whether it is live or not.
Select a suitable location for installing an outlet
Now, you’ve selected a nearby source and map a path to the new outlet using wire. If both the power source and the new outlet are present in the same wall segment, you shouldn’t have any complications.
Mark a point where you want your new outlet to be.
From the end of the wall, measure the distance to the power source from the other side of the wall.
With the help of these measurements, pinpoint the backside of the source. This, too, should be done from the other side of the wall.
Note: Installing two outlets back-to-back isn’t a good idea, and they may not fit. Find the space in the wall using a stud finder. If you don’t have one, start knocking on the wall and carefully listen to the hollow sound. Stud walls normally have 16-18 inches between studs, and you can easily find a location.
After finding a suitable location, now draw an outline of the electrical box on the wall.
To make sure that the newly installed outlet is at a suitable height, use the measurements from a similar outlet.
Outline the ‘old work’ electrical box on the wall and make sure that the open end faces the wall. While tracing, don’t include the tabs on all corners.
Draw a rectangular shape and cut deep enough so that it goes through the drywall, mostly around ½ inch thick. After cutting, you can remove the rectangular part by knocking it inside towards the wall.
Now, the power source inside the wall will be visible.
Connecting power to the new outlet
Now that you’ve found the main power source and cut the wall for a new one, you can start wiring. But before connecting the two, make sure to switch off the power to the room from the circuit breaker to abnegate any risk.
Double-check to make sure that power is off and there won’t be any electric shock in the circuit. You can test the power via outlet tester, voltage tester, or by plugging an appliance like a hairdryer or an electric clock.
Note: Do not work while the power is live, or voltage tester’s light turns red when touching or when inserted in the existing power source. Working while the outlet is live can be perilous and may result in electric shock, injury, fire eruption, and even death.
If you are certain that the power is off, now is the time to open the power source by taking the cover plate off. Unscrew the top and bottom mounted screws of the electrical box holding the power source.
Using a slotted screwdriver, poke the electrical box and create a hole so that you can feed a new wire for the new outlet.
You can feed the wire as much as you require so that it reaches the outlet through the hole.
Using the wire strippers or a knife, start stripping the paper and plastic cover off the wire to visible all three wires.
The colours would be:
- Black: Hotwire
- White: Neutral wire
- Copper: Ground (bare or having no colour covering)
To make all wires visible, disconnect the power source.
Note: If the wires are fixed into the back, you can shake them gently, back and forth, so that they are free. On the other hand, if the wires are screwed, you can unscrew the terminal screws.
Now, cut 3-5 inches of your wire and remove the sheathing from it. This stripping is done to be used as a pigtail to reconnect the power source outlet. Pigtails are known as small wire segments used to connect an outlet to a large bundle of wire.
You may forget to reconnect the existing power source if you don’t preplan it. Now that the power source outlet is disconnected, you can start connecting your new outlet’s wiring with no fear.
Here, you need to match the colours and connect them using wire connectors. It is important to make sure that the wires are pressed into the connectors, or the wire nuts are twisted enough so that they don’t come out in case of any sudden or slight pulling.
The pigtails should now be reconnected to the original power outlet. The right colour matching is necessary.
It won’t be difficult to mention that labels like Hot, Neutral, and Black/White will make your job easy to connect the wires to the respective terminals.
Note: If there aren’t any colour labels, you can have a clue from the terminal screw colour. The brass or gold colour will mean hot. While the silver-coloured screws will indicate a neutral terminal. Also, to make sure that the connection is tight, experts suggest that you bend a hook into the neutral or ground wire before wrapping it around the ground terminal.
The hook’s placing must be done so that the screw tightening is in the clockwise direction. This will mean that the short end of the wire will also be tightened in the same direction. To prevent the wires from making contact with each other or with the electric box (in case it is made of metal), wrap the outlet terminals with electrical tape.
After all the wires are connected correctly, tuck the wires into the electrical box without pushing them forcefully so that the connections don’t get removed.
Once you’ve put the wires into the electrical box, push the outlet into the electrical box, connect the outlet with mounting screws, and put the cover plate back.
Installation of a new outlet
Pull a wire into the electrical box from a hole in the outlet. To run through the wire, you may have to break or bend one electrical tab. When the wire is out, insert the box back into the wall and tighten the screws of the electrical box.
You may be aware that ‘old work’ electrical boxes come with small and loose flaps − known as ‘sails’ on the top and lower part of the electrical box. These flaps, when screwed, help to hold the box beside the drywall.
You will require a knife to sheath the other end of the wire to see the three wires inside. You will attach the individual wires to the source outlet just like you connected the pigtails. Here are the colours:
- Hotwire: Black
- Neutral wire: White
- Ground wire: Copper
When the outlet is wired, just press it into the electrical box, attach the mounting screws and lastly, the cover plate.
Good news, folks, you’ve done it. To check whether everything is done accordingly, switch on the circuit breaker. Pick the outlet tester and check to see if the power source and new outlet is live or not.
You can also use an outlet tester for this purpose. Or, if you don’t have both, bring a hairdryer or a small electronic device and plug it in to see if it works fine or not.
Congratulations, you’ve succeeded in installing a new electrical source.
Now, you can benefit from the convenience and use it however you want. Although the process is quite simple and requires you to have simple tools, we suggest you be careful from the outset.
Electric shocks can be lethal to you and your loved ones and dangerous to your valuable property.
So, if you are planning a DIY electric shock and want everything to be risk-free − and conducted by experienced professionals − just pick your phone, open the Expert App, book the electrician service and our skilled and fully background checked electrical experts will be at your place to do everything for you.
You will just sit back, relax and watch our people do it correctly and safely. And if you are thinking we are expensive, you haven’t booked any of our services yet. Just try Expert once; we are ready to impress you with the quality, expertise and affordable rates.