How To Install A Split Circuit Receptacle

If you use multiple electrical items in your kitchen, you may be required to install a split circuit receptacle depending on building codes where you live. As the name implies, a split outlet divides the power load between two circuits, which reduces the chance of overloaded circuits. Here is how to install a split circuit receptacle.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • voltage meter tester
  • wire stripper
  • needle-nose pliers
  • flat-blade screwdriver
  • split receptacle and cover

Switch the power to the area off at the breaker. If you don't' know what breaker controls power to the area, keep trying breakers. Run the voltage meter over the wires in the breaker box to ensure no current remains. Place a sign on the breaker box door or lock it so no one turns it on while you work.

Strip and Loop Wires

Strip about one-inch of wire insulation with the wire strippers to reveal bare wires. When you strip wires, be careful not to touch the bare copper or green ground wires. Stripping wires prevents extra wiring from hanging outside the box, which could cause a short.

A cut on copper or green wiring weakens the wire. If you accidentally cut green or copper wiring, you will need to strip the damaged end.

Bend the stripped ends of the red, black, white, and green or copper ground wires together with needle-nose pliers so they form a loop. The loops should be big enough so they easily connect to the terminal screws.

Install the Split Receptacle 

If you are using an existing outlet, loosen the screws that hold the cover plate with a screwdriver. Run the voltage meter over the outlet to ensure there is no current. Remove the mounting screws that secure the box in place, and pull it a short distance from the wall. Disconnect the wires, the pull the box completely out of the wall. 

Look for a metal tab between the two brass screws and the outlet face on the new receptacle. Insert a screwdriver under the tab. then move the screwdriver back and forth until it pops off the receptacle. Secure the stripped end of the black wire on the terminal screw by rotating the wire to the right. Connect the red wire to the other brass screw.

Don't remove the tab connecting the silver terminals. Fasten the white wire to a silver screw, and the green or copper wire to the green or copper screw. Slide the receptacle in the outlet space, tighten the mounting screws, and install the face plate.

Turn the power back on, and test the split receptacle. If the split receptacle doesn't work, or you need to install a new outlet, consider hiring an electrical company, such as Skyline Electric, Inc.