Is your main electrical panel labeled well?
I’ve looked at my main panel more than usual over the past month.
Had a bad outdoor outlet where I was plugging in Christmas
Installed an outdoor outlet in place of a motion light to power a
Had to decide which circuits would move from my main panel to the
back up panel with my new solar/battery set up.
I was reminded how poorly my circuit breakers were labeled, so I
took the time to correct that.
How do you accurately label your panel?
It starts with an essential tool: A Non-Contact Voltage Tester
This little tool is amazing.
Turn it on and bring it close to an outlet or light switch or
If it’s “live” the tool will beep and flash red telling you
voltage is present.
Start in any room and use the voltage tester to verify you have
power to every outlet and switch. Turn on all lights.
Turn off the breaker you think is for that room.
Verify the expected lights turned off.
While the breaker is off, retest all of the outlets and switches.
No voltage? You’ve found the right breaker.
Voltage still present? That outlet is on another breaker —
possibly on the one that controls an adjacent room.
Repeat the process until you identify the breaker for everything
and label your panel.
Example: For the southwest bedroom, I have a breaker labeled
“SWBR (not desk area)” and one below it labeled “Entry, stairs,
Note: 2 breakers that are connected are called double pole
breakers. These are for your large appliances — oven, stove,
dryer, AC. Verify each by turning the breaker off and trying to
power on the appliance.
For your Smart Homeowner list
Taking the time to label your main electrical panel gives you
important knowledge about your home.
If anything concerns you during the process, (you hear a hum near
a light switch or see black marks around a plug) call your