Numbering Circuit Breakers

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Old 12-07-20, 01:04 PM
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Numbering Circuit Breakers

I apologize if my question is trivial or pedantic and beg your indulgences for my anal retentiveness.

I will be attaching a detailed list of outlets, switches, fixtures, appliances, etc., for each circuit breaker on the back of the panel cover and wanted to correctly number each breaker.




If the main circuit breaker was on top, my question would have been:
  • Do I start numbering the breakers in the upper left-hand corner of the panel with the number 1, continue numbering down the left bank of breakers, i.e., 2, 3, 4, etc., and then finish by numbering down the right bank of breakers, or
  • Do I start numbering the breakers in the upper left-hand corner of the panel with the number 1 and alternate the numbering process between the right bank and left bank so that all of the odd numbers will be on the left bank and all of the even numbers will be on the right bank.

However, with the main circuit breaker on the bottom,
  • I can see reasons for starting the numbering process with the bottom left breaker, bottom right breaker, and the top left breaker, although not the top right breaker, but that does not mean there isn't a good reason for starting there, I suppose, and
  • I am still confused about whether I should number up (or down) one bank and then the other, or alternate between the left and right banks as I go up (or down).

Given my utter confusion, can someone kindly tell me the correct numbering pattern for a circuit breaker panel with the main circuit breaker at the bottom of the panel?

Thanks!

Joe
 

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12-08-20, 10:27 AM
Hal_S
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Originally Posted by Pjmax
Most of the older panels came with stickers that weren't used.
I found it was easier to print up Avery mailing labels and stick them on the panel.

I eventually created an excel flowchart to figure out the maze of 1940s wiring, the 1970s wiring, the 1990s wiring going through the 1700s farmhouse, 1800s addition and 1940s barn.
 
  #2  
Old 12-07-20, 02:07 PM
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Does the label on the panel door suggest a numbering scheme?

Your exact make and model of panel is also found with the main breaker you have shown at the bottom center instead up at the top (center).from time to time.

I would say it is your choice to start at what is now the upper left corner as breaker #1 and put the odd numbers going down what is now the left side. Okay to put number 1 on the second label up top because the first label does not have a knock out slot for a breaker.

All you need is for the breakers in your panel to match the paper chart you prepared. No need to conform to your neighbor's panel layout.

Note that the following numbering schemes are more confusing than uniform ascending order::
* Numbers 1 through, say, 16 for the 15 amp breakers, numbers 17 through 22 for the 20 amp breakers, etc.if not consecutive,
* After breaker 12 comes 14 unconditionally, namely always omit 13.
* Consecutively numbering just the occupied slots, filling in higher numbers here and there later, for example:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 23, 6, 7, 8, 24, 9, 10, 11

But IMHO is is better to number the breaker slot positions, as opposed to the breaker handles. If a breaker set occupies two slots but has only one handle it should take up both slots' numbers and on your paper chart it may look as if a number is omitted.
 
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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-07-20 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 12-07-20, 02:43 PM
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I start at top-left as #1 then top-right is #2. All left side breakers are odd, all right side are even. This is helpful later because the right and left sides are fed by different 'hot legs' of the mains..

"Practical tip"- use a sharpie to write the circuit breaker number on the inside of the outlet cove plates on that circuit. Also do this on the inside of ceiling light fixture covers. This way, you unscrew the cover, and you know which breaker to turn off when working on that circuit.
 
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Old 12-07-20, 03:31 PM
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Look closely at your panel. Many have breaker numbers stamped on them though they can be hard to see through the paint.
 
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Old 12-07-20, 05:06 PM
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I start at top-left as #1 then top-right is #2. All left side breakers are odd, all right side are even. This is helpful later because the right and left sides are fed by different 'hot legs' of the mains..
That is not correct. The hot legs alternate as they work their way down the panel. Per your numbering, breaker #1 and #4 are on the black hot leg. Breakers #2 and #3 are on the red hot leg.

Look closely at your panel. Many have breaker numbers stamped on them though they can be hard to see through the paint.
Yeah, this is so annoying. Why do they do this? I have to squint or use a flashlight to make out the imprint. Tempted to fill in with a marker, but think that might look tacky.
 
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Old 12-07-20, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Hal_S
I start at top-left as #1 then top-right is #2. All left side breakers are odd, all right side are even. This is helpful later because the right and left sides are fed by different 'hot legs' of the mains..
Originally Posted by cartman
That is not correct. The hot legs alternate as they work their way down the panel. Per your numbering, breaker #1 and #4 are on the black hot leg. Breakers #2 and #3 are on the red hot leg.
You're right- (and I know better)

The left and right side are fed by different "return bars".
The "hot legs" alternate as you go down each side (which is why double pole breakers give 240v)

Is SHOULD be numbers down the left side (IIRC most boxes have an even number of breakers)
so that top left is ODD, then you want top right to be EVEN. THEN you can keep track of which hot leg feeds each circuit.


 
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Old 12-07-20, 08:43 PM
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Keep in mind..... based on typical installation..... that panel is upside down.
The main breaker is usually at the top of the panel.
For that reason the panel isn't labeled.
Most of the older panels came with stickers that weren't used.
 
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Old 12-08-20, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Pjmax
Most of the older panels came with stickers that weren't used.
I found it was easier to print up Avery mailing labels and stick them on the panel.

I eventually created an excel flowchart to figure out the maze of 1940s wiring, the 1970s wiring, the 1990s wiring going through the 1700s farmhouse, 1800s addition and 1940s barn.
 
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Old 12-08-20, 12:04 PM
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Wow Hal down to the outlet level! How long did that take?
 
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Old 12-08-20, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by 2john02458
down to the outlet level! How long did that take?
Eh, about 6 hours total, spread over 2 days, first week of November 2011.

For those who DON'T remember, that was the 2011 "Halloween storm" that took out power for days to weeks across the East coast.

Doing the room-by-room list of outlets and loads was part of figuring out loads and circuits that could be supported by a generator. So, it's a "nice sunny day" in November, but you only have generator power to charge phones, a laptop and keep the fridge, well and furnace running. PLENTY of time to do these sorts of projects.
 
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Old 12-08-20, 02:59 PM
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Can you post the actual document file if you want? That would look interesting and perhaps serve as a template of sorts so more members can make one for their place if they want.
The only storm I remember being without power for many days was the 2012 "Super Storm Sandy" I had no power for 5.5 days! Just recently there was a storm whose name I forgot this past August I had no power for 4 days.
 
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Old 12-09-20, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by CircuitBreaker
[img]85.gif (3132) (doityourself.com)[/img]Can you post the actual document file if you want? That would look interesting and perhaps serve as a template of sorts so more members can make one for their place if they want.
I'm halfway between Philly & Lehigh Valley, so we got hit by BOTH the 2011 Halloween blizzard outage, and the 2012 Sandy outage.

As to the .XLS file, I'll try and clean it up, first sheet was a room-by-room sketch identifying outlets and fixtures, 2nd page was a logical list of which circuits went to which rooms, 3rd page was the attached graphic, using Excel flow chart symbols to drop in room-by-room details to explain each circuit.

 
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Old 12-10-20, 09:15 AM
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OMG!

I just quickly read through all of the responses and realized I must read them again more carefully and thoughtfully!

I am sure over the next two or three days I will have some follow-up questions.

Until then, thank you all for your time responding and sharing your experience.

gfr92y

 
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Old 12-10-20, 09:26 AM
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And, here's an excel flow chart template for mapping outlets

Eh, that didn't work - will try again
 
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Old 12-10-20, 04:08 PM
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Wow three pages! A template would be awesome how many amps is the incoming service and how many meters or accounts (if more then one)?
 
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Old 12-10-20, 04:55 PM
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And, here's an excel flow chart template for mapping outlets

Eh, that didn't work - will try again
Not sure what file attachment process is here, but if it can be easily ported to Google Sheets, you could share a link (make it so that no one can edit it but you, and we would all have to save our own copies to edit).
 
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Old 12-10-20, 04:57 PM
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We're having a temporary attachment server issue.
 
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Old 12-10-20, 07:43 PM
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Have home with 30 breaker main panel, and over years added 3 sub panels for total of 60 breakers.

At main panel have file folder with multiple copies house diagrams, each copy numbered with panel & breaker number. Filed by panel and number.

Over years when working on or adding circuit added actual wiring routing for that breaker.

A one page master copy shows all outlets and lights. Is quick reference when something goes dead. Keep a copy in kitchen for quick reference.

Home is a 4 level split with numerous 2, 4 and 4 way switches for stairs and outside lights.

While diagrams may seem complex, developed over years make life simpler and safer. After major hurricane damage just gave electricians the file.

Original house room diagram copies have been used estimating, painting, carpeting, roofing, etc.
 

Last edited by doughess; 12-10-20 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 12-11-20, 08:50 AM
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Try this again

Excel Template - the problem was that google drive doesn't know how to renter the flowcharts in Excel-2010, so it strips out the flow chart images

MS OneDrive link
https://1drv.ms/x/s!AqaAmc0LI1EUhq0f...AeKsQ?e=mEeeZo
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 12-11-20 at 09:08 AM.
  #20  
Old 12-11-20, 08:53 AM
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Hal_S I just get a spreadsheet with one blank worksheet.

Maybe do the Excel attachment when the forum's attachment functionality is restored.
 
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Old 12-11-20, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by cartman
I just get a spreadsheet with one blank worksheet.
Was that the Drive link? Google Drive tries to convert to Sheets, which wipes out the flowchart.
Try again, I put up a MS One Drive link above.

And here's the excel spreadsheet as a zip attachment-

I guess the next iteration will be to add a table of equipment by wattage, add a check box to virtually turn each on or off, and figure out how to get each "circuit breaker" to add up all the wattage along a branch.
Create a "virtual killa-watt" to model actual and maximum current usage, should even be able to color-code which circuits could trip if everything is turned on at once.
 
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Old 12-11-20, 10:14 AM
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Create a "virtual killa-watt" to model actual and maximum current usage, should even be able to color-code which circuits could trip if everything is turned on at once.
Why?

Circuit breakers are for fools (Lol! JK don't do this unless you need glowing 22AWG wire or a space heater/junction box combo) I wired every circuit directly to the incoming 200A feeds above the main using my 22AWG pigtails from RadioShack as hookup wire.
 
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Old 12-11-20, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by CircuitBreaker
Why?
Originally Posted by Hal_S
Create a "virtual killa-watt" to model actual and maximum current usage, should even be able to color-code which circuits could trip if everything is turned on at once.
Because EVERY pre-1900s house in my area of suburban Philly started out wired as one long 15A circuit. Basically, wires ran through each room, and there's a central light fixture in the ceiling, a switch, and one outlet at floor level, for basically each room.

Now, my area has LOTS of brick homes & stone homes so MOST of the wiring is actually hidden behind baseboards, crown molding, or run through the "new" walls installed when the homes were retro-fitted for indoor plumbing.

So, one of the first things you want to do, is deduce the "logic" of the wiring, find the little 4" x 4" fuse box that's often been converted into a junction box, and work backwards to figure out "where does that wire that disappears into the crown molding go?"
 
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Old 12-11-20, 11:26 AM
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Because EVERY pre-1900s house in my area of suburban Philly started out wired as one long 15A circuit. Basically, wires ran through each room, and there's a central light fixture in the ceiling, a switch, and one outlet at floor level, for basically each room.

Now, my area has LOTS of brick homes & stone homes so MOST of the wiring is actually hidden behind baseboards, crown molding, or run through the "new" walls installed when the homes were retro-fitted for indoor plumbing.

So, one of the first things you want to do, is deduce the "logic" of the wiring, find the little 4" x 4" fuse box that's often been converted into a junction box, and work backwards to figure out "where does that wire that disappears into the crown molding go?"
I was joking I know you want to trace the wiring wiring usually follows a logical path to save copper and materials but a 200 year old place has been butchered over the years with additions and "upgrades" and other stuff so the path is not the most obvious or logical.
 
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Old 12-11-20, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by CircuitBreaker
I was joking
Oh, I know you were joking. Sorry if that didn't come across correctly.
But, that's what old houses around me start with.
The "core" of many electrical systems in the "train stop towns" between Philly and the Lehigh Valley will be a single 1900s circuit that puts 1 light and 1 outlet in each room.
Then you get the post WWII 1940-50s wiring which adds circuits.
There's a 1960s upgrade for washer/dryer/window air conditioner.
Then it's the 1970s, and the twins or rowhouses FINALLY get upgraded from 60Amp 110Volt single phase service to 120Amp 220Volt service (because in the Boroughs, almost everyone had gas cooking and coal heat from the 1900s to the late 50s-60s)

Originally Posted by CircuitBreaker
a 200 year old place has been butchered over the years
Eh, I'd generally go with "customized" or "exemplifies heritage".

 
 

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