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Video:How to Use an Electrical Panel

with Debbie Anderson

Check out some helpful tips and advice for understanding and using your home's circuit breaker electrical panel.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Use an Electrical Panel

Hi, I'm Debbie Anderson for About.com. Understanding and using your home's circuit breaker electrical panel can feel a bit confusing, especially when needing to make an electrical repair or in cases of emergencies, such as, when a circuit breaker trips, so today I'm going to show you how to better understand where all of those circuit breakers connect to in your home and how to use the circuit breaker electrical panel when you need to.

Find the Circuit Breaker Electrical Panel

First, locate your home's circuit breaker electrical panel and lift the handle on the door to reveal the circuit breaker panel inside. Typically, this one panel feeds power to the entire house.

With the panel door open, you will notice inside that this is where you can assess all of the circuit breaker levers where to turn the power on and off for different sections of the home.

Look for Labels, or Make Your Own

Often times there are stickers that are placed near each circuit breaker lever letting you know where in the home this circuit controls the power, however, as an alternative, there is also often times a sheet adhered to the inside of the circuit breaker electrical panel door that has spaces to write specific information to help you identify which circuits in the home are served by a particular circuit breaker.

Unfortunately, sometimes, the labels may have nothing written on them and in this instance, you may need to do your own labeling to prepare for cases of emergencies or when needing to do work on a particular electrical repair problem in the home.

Find Out Which Lever Controls Each Area of Your Home

To help organize your home's circuit breaker electrical panel, use a plug-in work light to help identify which circuit lever in the circuit breaker electrical panel controls what areas of the home.

To do this, first, plug the light into the electrical outlet in each of the rooms of the home with the light on, then flip the circuit breaker levers until you find the one that turns the light off. Once the room where the light went off has been identified, use an ink pen to write this information on the inside door panel label.

Continue this process throughout the entire home until all of the circuit breaker levers have been identified for where they supply power throughout the home.

Safety Tips for Electrical Panels

Finally, when doing any home electrical projects, always remember to turn the power off at the circuit breaker lever associated with the particular circuit you are working on, and place a piece of tape over the circuit breaker lever so that it doesn't accidentally get switched back on while you are working on your electrical project in the home.

As a secondary precaution, if you're ever unsure as to whether or not a circuit in the home has been turned off at the main circuit breaker electrical panel, use a hand held circuit tester to test the circuit's power supply and make sure the power is definitely off before working on any electrical home improvement or repair projects!

With these few added tips on how to better understand and use your home's circuit breaker electrical panel, you're sure to have an easier time of knowing which lever to flip the next time you're doing a home electrical repair project!

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