How to Install an Electrical Outlet for a Wall-Mounted Flat-Panel TV

Written by joshua smyth
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How to Install an Electrical Outlet for a Wall-Mounted Flat-Panel TV
TVs look much nicer without a tangle of wires. (ULTRA.F/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Flat-panel televisions eliminate the need for bulky glass tubes because they have thin LCD or plasma screens. The popularity of these televisions has changed the design of contemporary living rooms because they are light and thin enough to be mounted on a wall like a piece of art. This can produce an elegant effect, but that effect disappears when there is a dangling power cord running to an outlet lower on the wall. To avoid this, learn how to move an outlet to a spot right behind the television.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Drywall saw
  • Electrical cable
  • Junction box
  • Drill
  • Stud finder
  • Screwdriver
  • Fishing tape
  • String
  • Wire strippers

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  1. 1

    Flip the breaker switch on a breaker panel that will shut off power to the circuit of the outlet. Test the circuit with a circuit tester or by plugging something in to the outlet before continuing.

  2. 2

    Use a stud finer or knock on the wall to find a nearby stud. You will know when you knock on a stud because the sound will less hollow than when knocking on drywall.

  3. 3

    Mark out the area for your new outlet with a pencil. One side of your marked area should be touching the edge of the stud.

  4. 4

    Cut out the piece of wall using a drywall saw.

  5. 5

    Remove the plate from the existing outlet using a screwdriver.

  6. 6

    Unscrew the outlet from its box and pull it out. Check whether the wires are attached to it by being screwed down to contacts on the side or slid through holes in the back. Many replacement outlets will have both.

  7. 7

    Unscrew the contact screws, then use pliers to unwind the wire from around the contacts. Remove the old outlet.

  8. 8

    Fish new cable through the wall from the hole you've cut to your old outlet box. If the hole is right above the old outlet or to the right or left, you will be between the same set of studs. In this case, you can cut a length of cable long enough to reach from the new site to the old, and push it up through the wall, starting from the installed junction box. If you have to move the box sideways as well, you will need to access the wall from a floor above or below. You then can extend a cable from the new box site to the existing box. If you have no way of accessing the wall, you might need to remove the drywall, drill through a stud and pass your wire through a hole.

  9. 9

    Strip an inch of wire at each end of the new cabling. Using plastic wiring caps, screw together the white, black and bare ground wires with the matching wires coming into the old outlet box.

  10. 10

    Attach a new junction box to the stud where you cut a hole in the wall, using a drill and the screws included with the box.

  11. 11

    Pass the free end of the cable into the new junction box, clamp the cable in place and tighten the clamps with your screwdriver.

  12. 12

    Strip an inch of wire at the ends of the cable and attach it to the matching contacts on the new outlet. Black wires connect to gold contacts, white to silver. Ground wires connect to a ground contact at the bottom of the outlet.

  13. 13

    Screw the new outlet in place in the junction box and cover it with an outlet plate.

  14. 14

    Pack the joined cables into the old outlet's junction box and screw on a cover plate.

Tips and warnings

  • Be careful working with wiring. Always double-check that a circuit is off before starting a job.
  • By code, all junction boxes must be accessible. Don't install any built-in shelving or other immobile wall pieces in front of an old outlet.

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