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How to Wire Split Receptacles

Most electrical wall outlets feature two receptacles, both of which draw power from a single set of wires running to a single circuit. In a split-receptacle outlet, however, each receptacle is wired to a separate circuit. Sometimes the two receptacles share the same neutral, but sometimes they are completely isolated from each other, as where one of the receptacles is an orange receptacle going to a power-filtered circuit. Proper wiring of split receptacles is important for preventing tripped circuits and receptacle failure.

Duplex receptacles can be split-wired so that each receptacle is protected by a separate circuit.
  1. Turn the main power off at the breaker panel. Make sure the two-pole circuit breaker is in the "Off" position.

  2. Install the wire at the circuit breaker. The red and black wires from the cable should be installed in the two power lugs on the circuit breaker. The white wire should be attached to the breaker panel's neutral bar. Attach the copper wire to the panel's neutral bar.

  3. Hold the receptacle right-side up (with the round ground holes pointing down) and break the tab between the two brass screw terminals on the right side.

  4. Connect the black wire to the upper brass screw terminal on the right of the receptacle.

  5. Connect the red wire to the lower brass screw terminal on the right side of the receptacle.

  6. Connect the white neutral wire to the upper screw terminal on the left side of the receptacle.

  7. Cut two 3-inch lengths of copper wire from an unused portion of wire cable. Connect one to the green ground terminal on the receptacle and the other to the green ground terminal on the junction box.

  8. Join together the ends of the copper wire from the cable, from the receptacle and from the junction box. Connect them with a wire nut.

  9. Attach the receptacle to the junction box with supplied screws, and screw on a receptacle plate.

  10. Turn the main power back on at the circuit panel. Turn the two-pole breaker back on.

Warnings

  • Improper wiring of multi-wire circuits can cause damage to electrical equipment, pose a fire hazard and create the risk of electrocution. If you are not thoroughly familiar with AC wiring, have this job done by a licensed electrician.
  • Consult and follow any installation instructions that came with the circuit breaker or the receptacle.
  • Never touch or perform connections with live wires. Always make certain wires are carrying no voltage before working with them. When in doubt, use a voltmeter to test them.
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