How to Install an In-Line Cord Switch

Updated: Aug. 28, 2019

Replace a standard lamp switch with an in line switch

Next Project

An hour or less




Less than $20


Make turning lamps on and off easier by installing an in-line cord switch. We'll show you how to add the switch so you don't have to reach under the lampshade to flip on the light. The installation is fast, simple and doesn't require any special tools.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Pocketknife
  • Wire stripper/cutter

How to Install the Switch

Tired of reaching up under the lampshade to switch on your favorite lamp? Mount an in-line switch on the cord.

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Purchase Switch

light switch topFamily Handyman

Several sizes of in-line cord switches are available at hardware stores, home centers and lamp specialty stores. Look at the tiny printing on the cord to determine which size switch you need, SPT-1 or SPT-2. In-line cord switches also vary slightly in design. Consult the instruction sheet before installation.

Step 2

Polarized Plug

Connect an in-line switch only to a cord with a polarized plug. A polarized plug has one prong wider than the other so you can only insert it one way into an outlet.
Step 3

Slit the Cord Where You Want the Switch

Install an In-Line Cord SwitchFamily Handyman

To prepare the cord for the new switch. Make sure you cut the non-identified (hot) wire only. It’s the one without any indentations or ribbing. Use a small pocketknife to make a 3/4-in. slit at the desired switch location. Note that you could also use a utility knife. Do not cut into the individual wire sheathing.

Step 4

Slice the Smooth Wire

slice smooth in-line switch wireFamily Handyman

Cut apart the smooth (non-identified) wire in the center of the split.

Step 5

Attach the Switch

Attach the cord switchFamily Handyman

Insert the cord into the wire channel on the switch bottom. Press the switch halves together and tighten the switch screw.

Unplug the lamp before you start the repair.