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Creating a Circuit Directory

Labeling a Circuit Breaker Panel


Electrical Panel Photo

Electrical Panel Photo

Timothy Thiele

Labeling circuit breakers and fuses is not only a good idea so tha you know the locationand devices they serve, nut also a National Electrical Code requirement. In article 408.4 it states the need for such a directory stating, "Every circuit and circuit modification shall be legibly identified as to be its clear, evident, and specific purpose or use."

In article 110.22 it states, "Each disconnecting means shall be legibly marked to indicate its purpose unless located and arranged so the purpose is evident. The marking shall be of sufficient durability to withstand the enviroment involved." A sharpy is a nice choice for permanent marking in this case.

But that's not all. In fact, even spare breakers are to be labeled with a "SPARE" designation, even though there may be nothing connected to the circuit breaker. That way you will know what every breaker does or does not do.

Unless you are a life-long resident in your home, you can understand that marking the circuit breaker panel should be a general, understandable set of markings like N.E. Bedroom, instead of Booby's room. You can see that the next occupants would have no idea where that room would be located. In fact, the NEC states in article 408.4 that, "No circuit shall be described in a manner that depends on transient conditions of occupancy." I advise marking the panel by rooms like I stated above. If you really want to make the directory clear, consider making a map layout of your home, displaying room names like bedroom 1, bedroom 2, family room, living room, etc... Here is a typical panel marking layout:

Main Breaker

1. Bedroom 1 N.E. 2. Garbage Disposer

3. Bedroom 2 S.E. 4. Microwave/Range

5. Kitchen Outlets 6. Dining Room

7. Dishwasher 8. Living Room

9. Refrigerator 10. Bathroom

11. Freezer 12. Basement Outlets

13. North Lighting 14. Basement Lighting

15. South Lighting 16. Garage

17. Spare 18. Spare

19. Spare 20. Spare

Now, doesn't that look neatly written and very understandable?

By utilizing a clearly labeled circuit breaker panel marking system, you'll be able to readily identify the appropriate circuit breaker when the need arrises. No longer will you have to flip one circuit breaker at a time to shut down the circuit you need to work on. Yes, it does take a little time to mark it correctly, especially if it's a new home that you've just moved in to, but the benefits outweigh the effort. Please check your electrical panel today and see if yours is marked correctlyn and if you can understand the markings it has. If yours is not marked, get busy marking it in this manner. You'll be glad you did.

Another thing to remember to mark is any ground fault circuit interruper (GFCI) circuit breakers providing protection to things like hot tubs, pools, spas, etc... These circuit breakers have a reset button on them and are resettable in the circuit breaker panel. Also, mark any breakers that supply power to subpanels or disconnects like that used for central air conditioners.

Hopefully, this detailed example of how to mark electrical panels and its circuit breakers has been helpful and educational to you all. There's never a worse time to look for a circuit breaker location than when the power goes off and there's trouble on a circuit. Do yourself a favor and either mark yours today or have a professional do it for you. A certified electricain can mark it easily and correctly in no time at all.

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