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Circuit Breaker Panel Mapping

circuit breaker panel
It’s helpful to map which breaker in your circuit breaker panel controls which areas of your house. Especially if you’re a DIY electrician, this will let you turn off only the areas that you’re working on, so you don’t have to kill the power to the whole house.

Mapping your circuit breaker panel allows you to turn the power off to only the areas of your house that you’re working on. This comes in handy if you’re doing electrical work that may take a while and your family still needs power to the other rooms.

The quickest and easiest way to map your circuit breaker panel is by using a circuit breaker locator.

Mapping a Circuit Breaker Panel with a Circuit Breaker Locator

1. Draw Your map.

You’ll want to draw a map of your house and mark it with all of the outlets and light fixtures in each room. Write a number next to each outlet. Next, go down to your circuit breaker panel and assign a number to each breaker. Label them with their numbers.

2. Find an assistant.

It will require some running from floor to floor and room to room if you try to do it alone, so it’s best to get an assistant. A pair of two-way radios will cut down on yelling. If you do use an assistant, you should also assign a number to each outlet and label them. This will make it easier for you to know which outlet you’re checking. You can also have them mark the map as you find the breakers.

3. Plug the transmitter into an outlet.

An advantage of this method is that most circuit breaker locators also double as circuit testers, and will tell you if the outlet is wired properly as soon as you plug them in.

4. Pass the receiver or receiver probe across the circuit breakers.

Follow the instructions for your circuit breaker locator. They don’t all work the same, and some need to pre-scan the breakers on the first pass over before locating the breaker on the second pass. They will also have different ways of notifying you when it passes over the right breaker. Some will beep, some will buzz, some will light up. When you find the right one, take your map and write the number of the breaker next to the outlet the transmitter is plugged into.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with each outlet until you’ve mapped them all.

Use your radio to let your assistant know when you’ve written down the number for the outlet. Then have them move to the next one and tell you the number. You can also get adapters for most circuit breaker locators that will allow you to hook the transmitter into a light fixture so you can map those as well.

6. Laminate your finished map or keep it in a plastic binder sleeve next to your circuit breaker panel.

It’s also a good idea to fasten it to the panel or nearby with a thick string. This will keep it from getting lost or misplaced.

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