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How do you read a circuit breaker panel diagram?

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Quick Answer

A circuit breaker panel diagram provides the breaker number and reference notes about a specific breaker to the number in the service panel. After a house is wired, the breakers are labeled according to which circuits, outlets and electrical service they are responsible for. The diagram, often a series of stickers or an adhered sheet, should clearly define these areas.

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A legible circuit breaker panel diagram allows easy electricity termination and restoration to specific parts of a building. For example, if circuit breaker number one is correctly labeled "Stove" on a service panel diagram, then manually switching that breaker to the off position cuts power to the stove. Additionally, if a circuit is overloaded and the breaker trips on its own, a panel diagram is a useful reference to restoring power after removing devices from the electrical circuit in question.

When adding or removing circuits from a building's electrical system, update the service panel diagram to clearly reflect the connections and breakers responsible in an area. This ensures easier operation during future service panel use for electrical system repairs or upgrades.

In addition to circuit breakers, a service panel also commonly contains a main breaker, responsible for cutting and restoring power to the entire building. It also has one or two hot bus bar connections; one connection provides 120 volts to the entire system, used by most common household electrical devices, while two connections doubles this to 240 volts.

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