Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: Tool to trace electrical circuit to breaker

  1. #1

    Question Tool to trace electrical circuit to breaker

    I am doing more eletrical work at the house and it's getting a little old switching off the wrong breaker Is there something out there that will let me trace the circuit I am interested in to the breaker box? Also what is the damage for something that can do that
    I can pay retail anywhere, so how's your service?
    Grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory one project at a time
    Maker of precision cut firewood


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    13,127
    Michael,

    I recall seeing something like that at my local hardware store and while I don't recall the price, I think it was under $50.

    One other thing you can do is to mark your breakers. Take an hour or two and with the help of your SO and/or kids and figure out all the circuits in your house. It'll be worth the effort.
    Crown Molding: cut, cope, cuss, caulk, chill....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Mt. Juliet, TN/ on the road full time in 38' Fleetwood Revolution Motor Home
    Posts
    91

    Fox & Hound device

    I purchased a Fox & Hound device made by "SPERRY" from one of the big box stored. It has transmitter that plugs into an outlet and a reciever that is used to pinpiont the breaker in the box.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    37,811
    Michael, Chris is correct...you can buy a two-piece test set that gives you a "transmitter" you put in the outlet and a "receiver" that grabs the signal out of thin air when you pass it over the correct breaker. It also helps you trace which outlets and fixtures are on a particular circuit. This tester works similarly to test kits for data and phone wiring but is specific to 120v A/C circuits. And do mark your panel once you figure things out...most construction electricians don't do that which makes for a pain to the homeowner. You might even go so far as to use a label printer to actually mark the outlets, too, for future convenience...

    But do keep it where you can find it...mine is "creatively stored" at present and I couldn't find it recently when I needed it!
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

    If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say -- talk in your sleep...

    Be safety conscious. 80% of people are caused by accidents.

    Equestrian Sports. The most fun you can have with your boots still on...


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
    377
    Michael, may I also offer a tip that I have started doing. On the underside of the outlet plate or switch plate, I write the number of the breaker switch that powers the outlet or switch. That way you can just remove the cover and see what breaker needs to be opened.

    Bobby McCarley

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Oak Ridge, NC
    Posts
    458
    Mike,
    A very sophisticated solution for you.

    Plug a radio in the outlet. Turn it on, turn it up. Go to breaker panel, trip the breaker. If you still hear the radio you got the wrong one.

  7. #7
    Something I added to my breaker tracer kit is one of those screw-in outlets that replaces a standard light bulb. It always seems that there is an outlet behind the sofa or such. Just replace the bulb with the outlet and you're good to go.


    Brian

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    37,811
    Quote Originally Posted by Mac McAtee
    Plug a radio in the outlet. Turn it on, turn it up. Go to breaker panel, trip the breaker. If you still hear the radio you got the wrong one.
    And then you reset all your clocks and electronics to the correct time, etc...IMHO, the tester tool kit is relatively inexpensive, fast and accurate.
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

    If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say -- talk in your sleep...

    Be safety conscious. 80% of people are caused by accidents.

    Equestrian Sports. The most fun you can have with your boots still on...


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    13,127
    Don't you do that after every storm anyway, Jim?
    Crown Molding: cut, cope, cuss, caulk, chill....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    37,811
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Padilla
    Don't you do that after every storm anyway, Jim?
    For "my" alarm clock, yes, 'cause the dang battery backup is worthless. Dr. SWMBO's clock works right, however. The timer on the MBR TV has to be reset (it's our normal alarm in the morning round about 6:30a, unless the birds are screeching... ) But fortunately the power doesn't fail much around here.

    I guess my point is that when you can get a a relatively inexpensive device to help trace circuits in times of trouble or times of "home improvement", it's probably a pretty good investment. I feel safer using it, too... But Mac is correct, you don't need it to do the job.
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

    If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say -- talk in your sleep...

    Be safety conscious. 80% of people are caused by accidents.

    Equestrian Sports. The most fun you can have with your boots still on...


  11. #11
    Mac's solution is the cheapest, but I would rather just know which breaker I am flipping, besides, it never hurts to add to the war chest of tools.
    I can pay retail anywhere, so how's your service?
    Grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory one project at a time
    Maker of precision cut firewood


  12. #12
    Trying to locate unmarked breakers at work is a regular chore for me. I've purchased two of those gimmicks "they say" will find the correct breaker. You plug the transmitter into the outlet, go to the breaker panel, pass the receiver over the breakers until it beeps and, well, the first one ($60.00) got thrown away after the third attempt to use it, the second one ($175.00) got returned to the vendor after it's fifth or sixth use/failure.

    I'm still using my old homemade circuit shorter. somewhat spooky and osha would have a conniption if they ever saw me use it. but it only takes two seconds to use and it finds the correct breaker every time.

    No. I'm not going to tell you how to build one. You might hurt yourself.

    The loud radio system is the best way to find an unknown breaker in a residence.
    It's a vintage trailer thing. If ya gotta ask, ya won't understand.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    37,811
    Quote Originally Posted by John Christiansen
    Trying to locate unmarked breakers at work is a regular chore for me. I've purchased two of those gimmicks "they say" will find the correct breaker.
    Interesting. I've been using the same cheap one for many years and other than needing to tweek the sensitivity a bit on "older wiring", it works like a champ! Couldn't have cost me much more than fifty bucks at the 'borg when I bought it.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    13,127
    I still say that kids/spouse are the cheapest...wait that isn't really true is it!!
    Crown Molding: cut, cope, cuss, caulk, chill....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  15. #15
    I routinely use a Circuit Tracer at the College, and it works like a champ. If you take the time to learn how to use this tool, it can save a TON of time and aggravation. The unit I have is a Greenlee, and it will work on both energized and dead circuits, up to 600V if I remember correctly. I believe we paid about 600 bucks for this thing, but it works great, and never lies to ya. (I have even used this dude to trace conductors in Conduit imbedded in Concrete, both energized and dead, and it finds 'em every time.) I have used lower cost units in the past, and they are just as John says they are..........pretty much useless and very frustrating to us. I have also built my own version of a Circuit Shorter like John mentions...................and it works, but is not for the faint of heart.........and you are right John..........OSHA would FREAK if they ever saw us use these!
    I am waiting for the day I use my homemade unit and run across a hanging breaker..............that should be interesting, huh? Like anything else, you get what ya pay for, IMO.
    Last edited by Kevin Gerstenecker; 08-04-2004 at 8:10 PM.

Similar Threads

  1. Shop-Built texturing tool
    By Dominic Greco in forum General Woodworking and Power Tools
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-30-2004, 12:00 AM
  2. tool usage(long and funny)
    By Walt Quadrato in forum Off Topic Forum
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-29-2003, 5:56 PM
  3. House electrical problem.
    By Don Farr in forum Off Topic Forum
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 10-26-2003, 6:01 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •