Updated: Mar 23
Having a properly labelled electrical panel not only looks better, but in the case of an emergency, you will be able to turn of the right breaker without hesitation. It will cause you unneeded stress and allow for clicking that breaker on or off with ease.
This is a job that is best completed by two people. One person to stand at the electrical panel to document what breaker is which.
How to Label your Panel Correctly
Here is a list of how to label your panel safely and efficiently without a lot of hassle.
The best course of action is to get a piece of paper and write it all down before you make a good copy of your work to go on the panel. This way, if you mess up when writing down something, it is a little more forgiving.
Check out the electrical panel for items that may already have a label. Verify with a partner to make sure that the original labels are correct. Breakers may have been moved from a previous renovation or just labelled wrong to start with.
Start by figuring out the easier items to identify. Items like stoves, dryers, water heaters, and hot tubs usually require a 2 pole breaker which take up 2 spots in the electrical panel. With a partner, eliminate these items from your treasure hunt
Another common thing to look for is multiple 2 pole 15 amp breakers in the panel. This might be your kitchen counter plugs, especially in older homes. If you find this, you can scratch this off the list of breakers to find.
Every home will have a heating system. Turn up the heat a little the heat will turn on. Turn on an off each breaker until your heat turns off. Another one to strike from the list.
If you have any larger misc. appliances or equipment in your home(not mentioned above), this might be an indication that it is on its own breaker as it could draw a lot of power. If you have anything like this in your home, scratch it from the list.
You will have lighting circuits ran throughout your home. Turn on all the lights and then have one person turn off the breakers one by one. Record when areas go out and check to see what else may have gone out.
Plugs circuits are a little bit trickier to figure out. With either a plug tester, or portable light of some sort, plug things in different outlets to see what went out when cycling the breakers on and off. Record what you find for different areas of the home.
If it is a newer home your electrical panel, it may have breakers called AFCI breakers. This should be an indication that these are plug circuits. This will help to sort out what these special types of breakers are in short order.
If there are breakers called GFCI breakers, these are commonly used for outside receptacle circuits and possibly bathroom plugs. This will help to point you in the right direction.
If you have a breaker that doesn't turn on or trips when you do, you might need a licensed electrician to get it sorted out for you. If you live in the Cochrane, Calgary area feel free to give Firestorm Electric a call. We are here to help!
Once you have determined all the items in the panel it may be a good idea to label the panel with a label maker. If the electrical panel already has a blank directory, it would be perfectly acceptable to use that and just write legibly.