Special tool for finding which circuit a device is on?


Old 07-22-07, 07:49 PM
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Special tool for finding which circuit a device is on?

Hi all,

I am in the process of creating "circuit maps" for my house-that is- determining which electrical circuit powers each outlet, switch, appliance,etc.
So far, I am using the "trial and error approach: trip a circuit breaker, and see what items no longer have power.
I recall seeing a 2 piece tool/device/gadget that could do this without shutting down the entire circuit. IIRC one part got plugged into the outlet, and by touching the other part to each circuit breaker, you could determine the circuit that was involved-without tripping the breaker.
Does such a device exist, if so, please describe it, and tell me where one is available or am I "wishful thinking"-or mis-remembering??

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-22-07, 07:53 PM
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Here is one. Sorry for the long link.
Old 07-22-07, 08:00 PM
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Your Local Home center will have a few of them. You plug a small pod into an outlet, and you walk to the panel with a "SNIFFER" . It beeps when you locate the right breaker.
Some work better than others, And unless your gonna do every house on the block and make a living at it, save your money.

Snatch a pair of walkie0talkies from the kiddies....Or a cell phone works just as good. draw a picture of every room in the house, every recept. and outlet and light fixture. plug in a small table lamp and flip until it goes out, (If your by yourself, use a small ac powered radio. ) The lights are self explanatory. The "Breaker finder " I bought is in its original box, under the shelf in the garage, and it will NEVER see daylight again.
Old 07-22-07, 08:44 PM
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I bought the Ideal brand yellow one at my favorite wholesale house. Should've been high-quality, no? Piece of you-know-what. It either beeps at all the breakers or none of them, depending on the sensitivity. Has never ID'd a breaker yet.

Now, I have a $650 Greenlee Circuit Seeker which does all that and more. But might be overkill for you...
Old 07-23-07, 05:16 AM
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Even if you use a device to help you, do not rely solely on it. verify everything by the plug in test. Those testers can get fooled, and you want the map you create to be accurate.
Old 07-23-07, 12:25 PM
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I also have the Ideal brand circuit tracer. I find it is pretty tricky as far as adjusting the sensitivity and you need to slowly decrease the sensitivity as you get closer to the proper circuit breaker.

It is worst on multi-wire circuits and "mini" (tandem) breakers but one thing always works for me and that is to trip the suspected breaker to the off position. If you trip the right breaker then there is no longer power to the transformer and the tracer probe stops sounding.
Old 07-24-07, 08:19 AM
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Thanks to all for the helpful replies.

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