How To Replace An Existing Outlet With A Surge Protector Outlet

As school begins for many students, laptops, desktops, and tablets will be used extensively in bedrooms and family rooms. A single power surge can cause valuable data to be lost, or, worse yet, can render every device plugged into the line inoperable.

Many families use power strips equipped with surge protection to avoid these issues. However, power strips are unsightly and create a tripping hazard when they are strewn across the floor.

You can replace the outlets in vulnerable areas with surge protector outlets and eliminate the need for bulky power strips while retaining the same level of protection.

What you will need:

A surge protector outlet

These can be found online or in your local home improvement store. Some models include an open faceplate, which you will need to cover the new outlet. A surge protector outlet has a reset button and may provide an indicator light, both of which will be located in the center of the outlet, so your old faceplate won't work.

If an open faceplate isn't provided, you will need to purchase one separately.


You'll need a flat head screwdriver to remove the old faceplate, and a Philips head screwdriver for the outlets.

Removing your old outlet

It is extremely important that you shut off the power to the outlet before you begin your project. This can be accomplished by turning off the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the outlet.

The inside door of your breaker box door should be clearly marked with the lines controlled by each breaker. If it is not marked, or you are unsure for any reason, plug in a working appliance into the outlet, then turn off breakers one by one until the appliance shuts off.

When you are certain that the power is off, remove the old faceplate with your flat head screwdriver. Next, loosen the upper and lower screws on the outlet with a Philips head screwdriver, and pull the outlet from the outlet box inside the wall.

You will have either one or two sets of three wires connected to the outlet. Unhook them all by turning the terminal screws counterclockwise until the wires come loose. If two sets of wires are present, keep them separated.

Installing the surge protector outlet

The wiring design of the new outlet will resemble that of the old outlet. There will be two gold terminals on the left side, two silver terminals on the right side, and a green grounding screw on the top right corner.

If one set of wires is present, hook the black wire under the top gold terminal screw and tighten the screw clockwise until the wire is secured. The white wire will be connected to the top silver terminal, and the green or copper wire to the green terminal is the same way.

If a second set of wires is present, this means only that the outlet is in the middle of a circuit, and will have no effect on the installation or function of the outlet. Attach the second set of wires to the bottom gold and silver terminals, and the second green or copper wire to the single grounding screw at the top. Both grounding wires can be hooked to the same terminal.

Place the outlet inside the outlet box, then sit the open faceplate against the outlet so that the top and bottom screw holes line up together. Attach both faceplate and outlet to the outlet box with the screws provided.

Turn on the breaker and test the new surge protected outlet. You may need to push the reset button in the middle on first use if the outlet is working. Most models have a test button and an indicator light. If equipped, push the test button to trip the surge protector function. If the indicator light flashes, your outlet's surge protection is in effect. Don't forget to push the reset button again after testing.

If you run into complications or you need additional electrical services, contact a professional electrician.