Identify Electrical Circuits and Label Breaker Panel

Summary

This video describes how I went about identifying the breakers in my breaker panel. The panel only had 4 of the 26 breakers labeled. So by labelling, it would be easier to know which breaker to switch off in the future in case an issue occurred.

Video

Video Transcript

Thanks for checking out this video. I'm going to show you how to go around and identify the outlets and the lights and which breaker they are connected to in your breaker panel. Thanks for tuning in. if you have not already please subscribe down in the button below. so when you go to do electrical work i.e. if you're changing out a light switch if a plug has an issue and you're trying to diagnose it or even if you're trying to add a circuit or even if you're trying to add an outlet to a room or somewhere else I say you want to add an outlet behind the TV, you need to go to your breaker panel and identify where this is connected to in your breaker panel. however if your breaker panel is unlabeled this can be very difficult as and it was in my case because only three of about the 20 to 30 breakers in my panel were actually labeled. a lot of times it was easier just to turn off everything in the breaker panel instead of just finding that one circuit that needs to be turned off. so in this video I'm going to actually go and tell you how I went about identifying The Breakers in my panel and what they were connected to. in particular the ones that do not have labels. there is a warning with this is that if you are not familiar or comfortable working around electricity this is best done by professional. however if you have some familiarity with the electricity then you can do this yourself.

the tools that you need to complete this task are a non-contact voltage tester or a voltmeter a notepad and a writing utensil whether it be a pen or pencil now you can do this task by yourself as I did however if you have somebody that can help you to actually does all the running around or can be inside of the building to identify which lights turn on and which lights turn off that would be far easier than you having to go from panel back inside to figure out where it is and then go back to the panel and then go back in again to try to identify which wipes for Outlets have turned on or turned off so let's begin so first thing I did of course is go to the breaker panel and open it up as you can see my breaker panel is actually outside initially when I did I turn off all of the breakers only their realize later on that some of the breakers are not wired up in more modern electrical panels there's usually a main breaker at the very top however for some reason to main breaker in my panel is right along in series with the rest of the breakers so when I turned everything off and we'll try to turn on only one breaker at a time and go back inside none of the stuff with work so this is my non-contact voltage tester is also a voltmeter and so by turning everything off and then typing everything up to the breaker panel I can confirm that there was no electricity in a breaker panel and then I can go over to the meter and the court the meter can't be turned off without the use of the power company and so I was non-contact voltage tester was working correctly so then the next thing was to go around through and identify each of the various devices and then once I verify to eat one then I will go and write that one down with the number of the breaker the amperage and then what that breaker was connected to or at least what I could dinner Phi that that breaker was connected to so this is basically you just walk up to it if you have the non-contact voltage tester and you just tap the put the voltage tester near the wires that come out of the particular device or Appliance and if it makes a noise then you know that it's working if it doesn't you know that that breaker that you switched off is what that is connected to and then you just make a note of that so some circuits are actually connected all together across multiple rooms so this is an example of a what is known as a lighting circuit and basically all the circuits are all the items on a given breaker are connected to permanent light so if you flip a breaker off and all the lights in multiple rooms turn off at the same time that means that breaker is a dedicated lighting circuit so modern design dictates that you have a lighting circuit in place and the reason that you want to have a lighting circuit in place separate from your outlet is because less I you fuggin something and that particular item has a fault in the wiring within the device Itself by having the ability to have a lights on a separate breaker for the outlet if this happens I say this happens at night when you tripped the breaker the lights in the room will still be on the overhead lights or permanently mounted lights will still be on and so it allows you to be able to get out of the room safely because you can still see because those lights are on a separate circuit from the actual Outlets now

On the breaker so what I'm doing now is actually taking off the front price on the breaker panel and so you'll want to be careful when doing this make sure you don't touch anything on the inside and it took a little bit of effort to get mine out since mine actually is recess inside some breaker panels actually have the front face mounted on the out outside so it doesn't actually slide off it just more like that of an outlet plug so if you notice here where the arrow is pointing this Breakers actually not connected and so this is one of the breakers that when I flipped it off I didn't do anything and I didn't know what it was connected to so I opened it up and sure enough it didn't do anything because it's not connected to anything and this may be the case was some of your Breakers in your panel if you had or somebody else who has lived there before you has done some remodeling and remove some of the wiring then or made adjustments to the wiring fan this may be the case in your scenario so just be sure to not touch any time any wires inside of the panel if you are checking to see if Breakers are connected then all you have to do is reinstall the panel and in my case I actually lost the screw that holds the face and place like they had to go and buy another screw from the hardware store it came in a pack of cigs so I only needed one but I have five extra screws just in case I do that again in the future so once you have identified all of the breakers that you have in your box and what they are connected to then you can go and create a spreadsheet with his information so that it can be printed out so I'm going to start by using the First Column as the number and Then followed by what that breaker is connected to Sobe description and then the amperage and if you notice that I'm using uppercase letters for this entire spreadsheet that will make it easier to read so I'm going to do the left side of the breaker which is all of the ones that are odd numbered starting with the top down you have one event all the way down to the harbor mini Breakers that you have on that particular side so on my outside the breaker number highest ranking number is 25 so I will stop at 25 and then I will start with the even numbers of 2 4 and 6 and I was like that and then use autocomplete to and at 26 which is the highest number that I have on the right hand side so the first record that I have in the number one position is the bath Outlet as well as the exterior Outlets saw internet in and then I will also include the amperage which is 28 and then I will go to the next one which is not connected so I'll just know that is not connected and then I will put in the next two are the air conditioner compressor or connected to the air conditioner compressor and then I will continue this process and then once I get all the way filled in down to 25 and print this out I will actually cut this between Rose 14 and 15 and I will actually add another header here on row 15 so insert an entire row and then copy this header here so that and I can add as actually had another roll so that I have some spacing in between so when I do go to cut this I don't have to be very exact with my cut and sew cut this between here and then so I have the even breakers on one side and then excuse me. Breakers on one side and then he even bring his on the other side now if you have a panel where the door opens sideways you could actually move emails over so that they are side-by-side like this and that way you can better see and then you only have to use one shut up a paper printout to do this however since my breaker panel actually opens up instead of to the left or to the right and going to do this way and split it sideways so I can put them side-by-side on next to space in between the edge of the breaker in the edge of the panel in the breaker itself so for the sales that are really long like this one and these here but I'm actually going to do is through this entire column and set it to do word wrap in LibreOffice calc need to go to text and a text under the format menu and then you can resize a column into text Will resize accordingly and so I'm going to actually shorten breaker number to this breaker and that way it'll allow me to use this room here I can you guys leave an abbreviated if you want to use for space and so I do have one breaker here that is a arc fault or ground-fault breaker breaker actually labeled in the end column that it isn't scription of that is our Breakers to clearly distinguish some reason this sale did not wrap correctly so you may have simply of formatting issues that come up like this and just have to go in and double check on them and if worst case we align the row to get it to do right to be here now is doing correctly are you in some places use the abbreviations to try to help with the wrapping so for instance here instead of spelling kitchen out I just took out all of the files that were in the word kitchen until you get something here that resembles the kitchen counter so counter counter I took out all the vowels yet again so you have cnpr you can kind of figure that out just no reasoning and same thing here with front how do you say it's not fully showing a hold of wrapping correctly so the same thing here with fry and so I will also do the headings on this one and make those bold you know that goes are there and then if you want to you can actually make these rolls alternate Colors video but it's pretty straightforward you know how to adjust the Lights theme background color of a particular role so that I can clearly read all the way across which role you know which item is so if I'm looking for the dryer and I can't cross here and say okay will dryer is 30 amps I can locate fryer bicep on the amperage or I can locate it based upon the position and once you have completed this be sure to save a copy of this in the reason I say that is cuz in the future if you happen to add breaker Outlets name something that say you add an outlet in a new room or you add an additional light in the new room then you know you can go here instead of retyping this all the way over you just make that necessary addition and then free printed back out and stick it back in your breaker box I'm out stop attic grid lines instead of using beat coloring technique will be far easier to read his follow your line finger across the line of the dates and that way you know somebody comes along in the future they won't have to guess when this was last updated though clearly so they know if anything has changed between this date and the current date of whenever they're looking at it then they can reprint this out and put a updated label inside a breaker box so as you see I've completed the printout of the stuff that I was going to do on the computer with the labeling then I've covered it in mailing tape as my breaker panel is outside hopefully this will protect it against the weather and any other elements that may come in contact with the labels I have a copy of this saved on my computer so I can go in and print out additional labels in the future if needed if I need to make any adjustments I can make those adjustments on the print out and then print them back out again this process has helped you in identifying and labeling your breaker panel if you have any questions or comments please leave those in the comments section below if this video has helped you please give this video a thumbs up.

Published: 2019-06-11
Updated: 2019-12-22
Author: Kenny Robinson, @almostengr
Category: Handyman
Read Time: 12 minute(s)