Doesn't it also matter how many breakers you have in your box too. I have 8
breakers total, 2 are double pull and obviously not for outlets, so that
leaves six, not exactly difficult nor time consuming to kill 6 breakers and
figure out which goes where. Using binary would be ludicrous in that
"ludicrous" makes it sound like using binary is much more work. That's
The average is 3 for either method. If you consider maximum (as
someone might), you get 3 (for binary) or 6 (for one at a time).
I'd still check everything and label the breakers properly.
Lets take the radio method.
If it happens to be the first breaker you switch one breaker. If it
is slot 2 you turn 2 breakers. If 3=3 4=4 say you have 12 on the
right and 12 on the left. The most switches you would make is 12.
Lets take the binary method.
You turn off all 12 breakers on your first try. If you guess right
you turn 6 back on, but if you guess wrong you turn those 6 off and
turn the other 6 on.
Yeah, you are using way too much brain power for this 10 cent project.
This doubles if it happens to be the second half. Try the math
If you're using a light, or something else where you have
to go CHECK the outlet in question, then doing a binary search
makes sense. If you're using a noise-generator where you
can tell immediately on flipping a breaker whether you killed
the one you want, then it's nonsense.
It's an either/or situation. If you're not using the extension
cord/radio/vacuum cleaner method and you have to run up and down the
basement stairs, for example, then the search routine makes a lot of
sense. I've used all of the mentioned methods over the years depending
on the situation.
You don't have to check as often. Anyway, I recommend identifying
everything at once, rather than individually.
Just start your checking with the correct breaker. It's the easiest
way, and works every time! :-)
It could be the first one. It could be the second one in the first
half. If could be the first one in the second half. It could be the
last one in the second half. There's as many possibilities as
breakers, ALL EQUALLY LIKELY. Before doing any testing, the average is
the best thing you have.
and not getting thrown off by simple AND INAPPROPRIATE thinking is
Lots of GOOD advice here.
I'll just ad, PRAY, your house was wired by
a sober electrician.
In my home, the BACK bathroom and
the front porch light and bell are on the same circuit.
One side of my kitchen is on the same circuit
as a bedroom two rooms away.
And the "Piece de resistance" the overhead fixture
in the master BR is on the same circuit as the
garage on the opposite side of the house.
Well i admit its not recommended! But on one occasion I intentially
shorted a outlet to trip the breaker so I could work on that specific
My grandmother lived here and was on oxygen machine, I absolutely HAD
to fix the bad outlet that was used for other stuff for her.
The short enabled me to not disturb anything but the breaker I needed
to work on!
posters in the past got mad I used such a system, but it worked in 1991
before circuit breaker finders were available.
breakers are designed to accept shorts, because they do occur.
some electricians wire always on outlets ground pin up and switched
ground pin down.
If I ever rewire completely each room will have its own breaker for
easy service, a couple breakers foir lighting circuits only plus
breakers for dedicated outlets like fridge.
I have the hodgepoge too:( As cicuits have gotten overloaded I add more
still its a mess, worse the ductwork is in the way leading to messy
romex to avoid obstructions
Xeno Chauvin wrote:
...[snip other parts of story implying a poor
Actually, that is overall, a_good_thing (TM) :) and undoubtedly
intentional -- the point is that not all service in a particular area
of the house be affected by the tripping of a single breaker.
If, for a simple example, the panel is in the basement and it's late at
night and all lights in the basement and down the stairs are on the
same circuit, how easy is it going to be to get down there and find it
in total darkness if that one is the one and _none_ of the lights or
receptacles are still on?
Don't jump to conclusions about the electrician's sobriety _too_ soon
without considering all alternatives...
Of course, there _should_ be a note on each receptacle and a chart at
the box or somewhere else that does the identification...
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