Tracing Circuit Breaker to Receptacle Outlets

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• posted on October 8, 2006, 5:26 pm

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 situation.
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• posted on October 9, 2006, 12:22 am
On Sun, 8 Oct 2006 10:26:31 -0700, "Eigenvector"

"ludicrous" makes it sound like using binary is much more work. That's incorrect.
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.
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• posted on October 9, 2006, 1:23 am
On Sun, 08 Oct 2006 19:22:20 -0500, Mark Lloyd

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 again.
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• posted on October 9, 2006, 1:28 pm

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.
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• posted on October 8, 2006, 5:55 pm
Terry wrote:

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.
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• posted on October 9, 2006, 12:16 am
wrote:

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 still good.
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• posted on October 7, 2006, 8:34 pm

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. Xeno
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• posted on October 7, 2006, 9:08 pm

Could be worse like the commercial where the switch controls a neighbors garage door 6 houses away.
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• posted on October 7, 2006, 10:40 pm
On Sat, 07 Oct 2006 20:34:21 GMT, "Xeno Chauvin"

In my house,the light over the bathroom sink is on the same circuit as the receptacle behind the refrigerator.
It's not good enough to assume everything in a room is on the same circuit.
--
79 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
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• posted on October 7, 2006, 10:49 pm
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 circuit.
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.
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• posted on October 8, 2006, 12:24 am

Chuckle. Your guy must have wired my place, too.
aem sends....
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• posted on October 8, 2006, 2:44 am
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 dedicatyed breakers........
still its a mess, worse the ductwork is in the way leading to messy romex to avoid obstructions
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• posted on October 8, 2006, 3:51 pm
wrote:

I wish my house had separate lighting circuits.

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• posted on October 8, 2006, 6:35 pm
Xeno Chauvin wrote: ...[snip other parts of story implying a poor job/design/electrician]...

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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