6 Tips for Labeling Your Electric Panel

6 Tips for Labeling Your Electric Panel

Moving into a new home has a lot of ups and downs.

It can be very exciting to discover all the nuances of your new home!

Don’t let a tripped breaker be a bummer.

Be sure your electrical panel is labeled well so you can get power back quickly.

Here are six tips to help you get started.

#1. Grab a Buddy
The fastest way to find out which breaker controls which area is to do it with a buddy. One person can flip switches while the other controls the panel. Don’t have a buddy? It’s easy to do on your own, you just need a little more time.

#2. Map Your Breakers
Start with turning all the breakers off. Then turn them on one by one and make note of the lights or large appliances that come on. Also take a small lamp or alarm clock around to check the outlets. Find an outlet that doesn’t seem to work? The safest way to check if the outlet is getting any power is by using a non-contact voltage tester.

#3. Label Label Label
It’s likely that your panel is already labeled, just not well. Sticky labels are easier than taping tiny pieces of paper, but either is effective. Print legibly and be clear with your locations. Draw a diagram of the panel and label your practice panel before writing out and applying your final labels. If your handwriting isn’t legible, consider printing your labels.

#4. Take Notes
If you have a section on your electrical panel that doesn’t belong to one specific breaker, you may have a wiring issue. Call a qualified electrician to come out and take a look.

#5. Keep It Simple
Don’t use nicknames for your labeling. Chances are, you won’t live in your house forever, so do the next owners a favor and use practical labels like “SW Bedroom” or “Garage Outlets” rather than “Nursery” or “Bedroom 1.”

#6. Watch the Amperage
If your panel has anything labeled, it’s likely for your large appliances. When you switch off a breaker and discover only the stove doesn’t work, you’ve found a dedicated circuit. Need a little help figuring out which dedicated circuit goes to which location? Check the amperage (amp) rating of the circuit. This is indicated by the number on the circuit toggle lever or nearby. Here are some common amp ratings for various appliances or devices:

  • Kitchen outlets: 20-amp
  • Range/oven/cooktop: 30-, 40-, or 50-amp
  • Dryer: 30-amp
  • Garage outlets: 20-amp
  • Laundry outlet/washer: 20-amp
  • Lighting, general receptacles, and probably everything else: 15-amp

    Keep in mind, some large amp appliances may require more than one breaker.

    Labeling your electrical panel before there’s an emergency can save you lots of time plus a huge headache. It may not be the most fun job, but it will certainly pay off in the end.

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