How To Label your Electrical Panel

electrician working on circuit

The electrical panel in sort of like the brain of your home. It’s from where signals converge and instructions are sent out to the rest of the house so that things happen, like a light coming on with the flip of a switch, for example.

Keeping the electrical panel clearly labeled is an important task. It will help in cases of emergency, like an electrical fire, when you need to act fast. A well-marked electrical panel will also reduce stress and just make life easier when you are working on smaller jobs around the home.

If you have bought an older home, there is a good chance that the panel has been labeled, and an equally good chance that the labels are not up to date. The good thing about labeling and updating your electrical panel is that it’s an easy job and once it’s done, it’s done.

Convinced but not sure how to get started? Here’s an easy and step-by-step guide to labeling your electrical panel.

Find a friend or family member to help

It’s always (ok, usually) nice having a helper to get a job done, and a second person will make this job move along quickly. You may need to entice with a six pack or some pizza but helping on home projects — that’s what neighbours are for!

Once your back-up has arrived, assign your duties. One person will be stationed at the electrical panel, while the other person will be roaming through the house to test switches and plug ins.

Begin by having some light switches on and appliances or electronics plugged in. The turn off every circuit in the house and turn the circuits on one by one. Have your helper report back telling you what turned on.

All you have to do from here is record the switches accordingly. And that’s it! You’re done.

There are a couple of extra things to be aware of, especially if you are buying an older home. (If your home is brand new — everything should be in perfect shape.)

Improper or DIY wiring jobs can lead to confusion on the electrical panel.

If you discover old, poor quality, or DIY electrical wiring in your home, the best thing to do is call an electrician to come check it out and do an assessment. Faulty wiring is not worth

call an electrician to come and have a look. Faulty, inferior or aging wiring can malfunction and lead to serious damage, even fires. Remember, safety first!

You might find that high energy appliances like washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, water heaters and oven can require multiple breakers in order to operate. Don’t worry if this is the case in your home, it’s normal!

Labelling an electrical panel is actually a big job, but it will go by quickly if you enlist the help of a friend or family member. And if you feel frustrated that it’s taking a long time to finish, just keep the end goal in mind. It’s much more frustrating to try and sort it out in an emergency situation.

And don’t worry, it’s one of those jobs that you only need to do once, and you’ll be very glad once it’s done.

If you live in Surrey or the Lower Mainland and have questions about the wiring or electrical panel in your home, BPM Electrical is here to help.

Happy labeling!