Labeling Your Electrical Panel: Why It’s Important
Your electrical panel is the brain of your home’s electrical system. An electrical panel consists of circuit breakers or fuses that controls how power is distributed in certain areas of the home. There are breakers for large appliances like your washing machine and dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, A/C unit, furnace, etc. And then there are circuits for certain areas of the house like upstairs lights, basement lighting, exterior lighting, and so on. Each circuit controls the power distribution for whatever it is tied to, and so it’s important to know what each circuit breaker or fuse goes to by labeling your electrical panel.
Why Should I Label My Electrical Panel?
Labeling your electrical panel (the breakers inside the panel) is important so that you can control any area of your home safely during power outages and certain DIY projects. For example: you are pretty confident with replacing a broken light switch (although as licensed electricians, we highly recommend calling us for assistance if you have never done this before). Before unscrewing the plate, you want to turn the power off in the upstairs portion of the bedroom where the switch is so as to not work with live wiring. You run downstairs to your main electrical panel, only to find nothing is labeled on the inside from the previous homeowner. Let the guessing game begin!
Instead of wasting time trying to figure out which circuit breaker controls certain areas of your home, its best to have all of these properly labeled for convenience and safety.
3 Signs It’s Time To Label Your Electrical Panel
- No breakers/fuses are labeled – DUH!
- Worn/faded labeling from yourself or previous homeowners make it impossible to read (usually handwritten in pen or pencil)
- Scratch outs on the labels from previous homeowners make it impossible to read
Steps To Take To Properly Label Your Electrical Panel
- Get another person for help. This will save you time.
- Turn on all of the lights in each room of the house (this will make it easier to determine which breaker is controlling each area of the house)
- With the helper upstairs, turn off every circuit breaker in the main electrical panel EXCEPT FOR THE MAIN BREAKER AT THE TOP OF THE PANEL. Do NOT shut this one off.
- Turn on each circuit breaker one by one, having your helper determine what areas/rooms the power was restored to.
- Make note of what was turned on, and in what area to properly label each circuit breaker (i.e: bathroom, master bedroom, refrigerator, etc.)
Note: Don’t forget that some of these breakers may be dedicated for certain large appliances, not just for certain areas of your home. Be sure your helper knows this so when no lights are turned back on a room, they can check the appliances.
Tips For Properly Labeling Your Electrical Panel (Like a Pro!)
- Use a label maker. It makes it so much easier to see a printed word/phrase rather than a handwritten one, especially if your handwriting is atrocious.
- If a label maker isn’t within reach, use a permanent marker on sticky adhesive labels, maybe even color-coded!
As always, if anything doesn’t seem quite right inside your main electrical panel while labeling, call one of our licensed electricians at KB Electric LLC to troubleshoot and diagnose any problems. (267) 467-3178