Labeling the Electrical Panel

Most of the time electrical panels have labels that indicate which part of the electrical system a particular breaker serves. Labels you might see are: dryer, furnace, master bedroom outlets, sump pump, general lighting, etc.

In every house I’ve lived in I’ve found it helpful to develop a map of all the outlets, switches and light fixtures in the home and figure out which breaker in the panel controls each individual device. This is useful in the event that I want to change an outlet, replace a light fixture, add a ceiling fan, turn a device off for servicing, etc. This can be a tedious process, but once you’ve done it and then one day you need it, you’ve got it. No searching for the right breaker. It also helps if you ever want to add a device to the system. you can tell how loaded each circuit in the panel is and find a good place to put it so that you don’t end up overloading one circuit over another.

There are devices out there that will help you do this mapping. You plug one device into an outlet then take another device back to the panel and move it over each breaker in turn. When you’re over the breaker that services the outlet in question the device will blink a light or make a sound. I’ve never used one of these devices but if you’re working alone or doing a lot of this work, or if you’re just a gadget person (like me), you might want to pick one of these things up.

The best way to do a mapping is to have two people working together. One at the panel and the other running around testing if light or outlet is on or off. To test outlets you can get an outlet tester or simply use a plug-in lamp. To further help this effort a pair of walkie talkies are great. That way you don’t have to holler from one end of the house to the other.

Bottom line is, having a well labeled electrical panel is very nice when you or someone else needs to work on your system. Another level of detail is having a full map of which breaker controls every outlet, switch or device in your home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *