It is common to find electrical panels in older homes with obsolete, in-eligible, or missing labeling. Although most home owners may not have to operate circuit breakers in the electric panel too often, it is important to have proper labeling so that the circuit breakers in the panel can be easily identified in the case of emergency, or if electrical repairs or upgrades are being made. Proper labeling is also important for inspection of the electrical panel.
In modern homes, there are several separate electrical circuits in a home. Circuits are separated according to the location and type of room they are in. The size of the wiring, and amperage rating for a specific circuit is dictated by the National Electrical Code, which takes into consideration the amount of power that could be used in any given location in the home. Kitchens and bathrooms require larger wires and higher amperages in order to power things like toasters, blow dryers and other appliances that draw a large amount of electricity when they are being used. Bedrooms and living rooms will usually require less power, and therefore those circuits are sized smaller. When inspectors check wiring at the paneling, they require proper labeling in order to determine if the wiring and circuit breaker sizes are correct for the location they are serving.
Circuit breakers are safety devices that are designed to turn off power to an electrical circuit in the home if there is an electrical fault such as a short, or circuit overload. The circuit breaker is essentially a switch that will “trip”, or switch off in order to prevent the flow of electrons to the circuit it serves. Circuit breakers are also used during repairs so that power can be turned to whichever circuit is being worked on.
If a specific circuit breaker trips in a house, and it is not labeled, it may be difficult to determine which location in the home is having an electrical problem. Also, labels will help technicians know which breaker to operate when power needs to be turned off.
Electrical Outlet Tester
If you have an electrical panel in your home that is not properly labeled, you can purchase a few affordable tools such as a voltage tester or plug tester to help you determine which circuits are connected to which circuit breakers in the panel. Through a process of elimination, the circuit breakers can be identified and labeled accordingly.
The video below shows in detail the process for identifying and labeling circuit breakers in a residential electrical panel.