Make a Breaker Panel Label and Label Your Receptacle Plates!

February 17, 2010 | by Kim (email) |

Electrical Receptacle Wall Plug AC Outlet Ground Tester

In the process of finishing our basement we had to add a few breakers to our main breaker panel, which was poorly labeled to begin with. I took the opportunity to go around the house and establish exactly which breakers controlled which receptacles and made a new label key with all the details.

This is a really easy (and oddly fun) project to tackle when you’ve got the time.

I used a standard-issue electrical outlet tester (picture on the right), created the breaker label key as a Word table, then laminated the printed version and taped it to the inside of the panel door.

Locating all the connections proved to take some time. Some rooms in our house have receptacles and/or lighting connected to three separate breakers!  The key is to flip only one breaker at a time and find everything that won’t turn on when it’s off.

Finishing the list itself took very little time, and now that I have it saved on my computer, I can easily make changes as we need to and reprint it.

Breaker Panel Label

Label Receptacle and Switch Plates

For new work, we recommend writing the breaker number on the receptacle/switch box when you first run the wire.  Then when you finish up, grab a Sharpie and write the breaker number on the inside of the switchplate… We’re about to write it on the one below.

If you ever need to work on that receptacle in the future, you’ll know just which breaker to flip and can save the trial-and-error-followed-by-clock-resetting-all-over-the-house method most of us have experienced in the past.

Receptacle Cover Label

(Photo credit: Receptacle tester and breaker finder –

6 Responses
  1. Deborah says:

    So important! Thanks

  2. Archie Roberts says:

    I’ve just recently had my electrical psnrl box up-graded and now I would like to labels the box per breaker, The circuit directory was written out in long hand. I want it to neater, and label the circuit.

    Where may I obtain a such a form to fit inside my panel box, that I can type and insert the labels onto?

  3. HANDYMAN51 says:

    Kim- We live in an older home ( With safe wiring!), but the fused circuits, since switched to a new breaker panel, haven’t been mapped. I’ve been using the trial and error method when replacing receptacles to update colors. These are some GREAT ideas, and will be used to save a lot of headache/ running up and down stairs, and shouting to my spouse through a laundry shoot! The wiring in our home seems to have been done by a very troubled electrician- circuit surprise/ potluck!

    • Kim says:

      Glad to help! Our housebuilder’s electrician must’ve been a relative of yours. Or they went to school together. Same thing!

  4. Roxanne says:

    I live in a house built in the 1940s but I have 2 – 220ac units..I just want to cut power off to these because I have a dead beat son who wants to turn it on all the time.. My switches on the box are 50 – 30 -20…I have a gas stove , gas water heater..So which breaker runs the 220 Ac…??? Need a money saving

    • Kim says:

      Not sure without looking at them. The best way to find out is to flip a breaker and see what’s impacted, then label it so you always know in the future! Best of luck – with the electricity and your son!

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