trace circuit equipment??


Old 05-03-05, 08:26 PM
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trace circuit equipment??

Hi, has anyone used those devices where you plug a small unit (transmitter) into an outlet, then wave a hand held device at it. Now you can go to the circuit breakers and wave that hand held device again to see which circuit the transmitter is plugged into?

I've heard that it may also give you a "false positive" for a circuit that is next to the actual circuit you are trying to trace.

Any info or product suggestions would be great...

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Old 05-04-05, 04:34 AM
TomZ1's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 174
I have one.

It buzzes when you run the hand-held receiver across the breakers. The loudest buzz is your circuit.

Definitely possible to misread. Sometimes you have to try a few times to be sure.
Old 05-04-05, 10:36 AM
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Thanks for getting back to me. Has anyone else used one?
Old 05-04-05, 10:56 AM
Mr Fixit eh's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 94
I tried one and was very unhappy with it. No matter how much I adjusted the sensitivity, it would not distinguish the breaker. Since you have to plug the transmitter into a receptacle anyways, I think you're better off to save your money and just plug in a radio instead. Or invite a friend over for coffee and a 20 minute 'project.'

BTW - you're on the right track. One of the most important things you can do to maintain your electrical system is to make a thorough map of every electrical device in your home and identify what circuit each one is on.
Old 05-04-05, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 510
I use one all the time for breaker identification. Mine has an adjustable sensitivity on the receiver. The trick is to gradually decrease the sensitivity to the point where you get a signal on only one breaker. Also the sensitivity is dependent on the breaker design and where on the breaker you hold the receiver.

I think I have only once had a false positive. Always verify that you have switched off the correct breaker before you start working on a circuit.

I have also used the transmitter/receiver to trace circuits, identifying a cable out of a bundle, etc. The thing to remember when using the system for other tasks than breaker identification is that the signal is available only on the part of the circuit between the transmitter and the breaker panel. Any part of the circuit "downstream" from the transmitter will not carry the transmitter signal (at least with the units I use).
Old 05-04-05, 12:36 PM
Skapare's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 198
If the transmitter is line-powered, it should at least give you a first confirmation that you have found the correct breaker by ending the transmission as soon as you switch the breaker off. Still, always verify the power is really off (as opposed to a dead transmitter or receiver) before starting actual work.

If all the power is off, you'll need a battery powered unit, of course, losing this ability to check. Still, if you can get some signal on other parts of the panel (e.g. the signal going backwards through the breaker, into the panel bus, and out other circuits), all signals should die down when you switch off the correct breaker.

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