Breaker Finder

Status
Not open for further replies.

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
I wish we had more catagories (tools/equipment, general electrical, etc) but since we don't, I guess this is a good a place as any to ask this................

Will a breaker locator/finder work on a fused panel? I don't know exactly what makes them tic, but I've got an idea. I believe it should work but wanted to know if any of you know or have tried them on a fused panel.

 

Gac66610

Senior Member
Location
Kansas
I don't know how they work either, but isn't more of a wire tracer, not a breaker finder?

If this is correct then I would think it should work
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
I don't know how they work either, but isn't more of a wire tracer, not a breaker finder?

If this is correct then I would think it should work
Well they're called breaker finders. I think the transmitter (part that plugs in to a recep) sends a signal through the wires and the receiver (part that you hold) picks up the signal at the panel. There has to be power at the recep. for these types to work. They are not like a circuit tracer that provides it's own power.

The newer ones work pretty good, or at least the one I have does. I've got an older GB brand that I don't think ever worked right. It beeps on about 1/3 of the breakers in the panel.:rant:

What I don't know is if maybe the breakers helped to shield the signal somewhat to keep noise from being picked up, where as a fuse might not.
I have to go troubleshoot a few circuits tomorrow at a house with a fused panel and just wondered if the breaker finder would work or would I be wasting my time.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
I wish we had more catagories (tools/equipment, general electrical, etc) but since we don't, I guess this is a good a place as any to ask this................

Will a breaker locator/finder work on a fused panel? I don't know exactly what makes them tic, but I've got an idea. I believe it should work but wanted to know if any of you know or have tried them on a fused panel.

I wish we had an equipment and gear oriented forum as well. HINT!!!
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
The older Amprobe models draw a pulse off the power at a certain frequency, which the receiver picks up. Unless there is other electrical equipment operating at the same frequency, this is a very effective and accurate way to trace a circuit, breaker or fuse. Most tracers though inject a signal which can bleed off onto other wires not making them as accurate. When tracing a fuse with an Amprobe tracer, you just turn down the gain as much as possible, then just scan the tops of the fuses. When you find the one with the stongest signal, you have found it.
 

Greg1707

Senior Member
Location
Alexandria, VA
Occupation
Business owner Electrical contractor
panel schedule

panel schedule

On this subject I thought I could ask this question.

I replaced a panel and subpanel in an older home that had many renovations and additions over the years. Combined, the two panels had 46 breakers. The panel schedules for the original panels were worthless. I spent two hours trying to prepare accurate panel schedules.

I was able to label the obvious ones: stove, Microwave, kitchen, AC etc. but there were at least a dozen I could not find. One that I found was to a single unused blank outlet in a bedroom that must have been used for a window AC unit at some point.
The point being, in order to prepare for my inspection, I just labeled the unknowns as receptacles. How much time do you spend on this and how responsible are we to figure out mess like this?
 

readydave8

re member
Location
Clarkesville, Georgia
Occupation
electrician
On this subject I thought I could ask this question.

I replaced a panel and subpanel in an older home that had many renovations and additions over the years. Combined, the two panels had 46 breakers. The panel schedules for the original panels were worthless. I spent two hours trying to prepare accurate panel schedules.

I was able to label the obvious ones: stove, Microwave, kitchen, AC etc. but there were at least a dozen I could not find. One that I found was to a single unused blank outlet in a bedroom that must have been used for a window AC unit at some point.
The point being, in order to prepare for my inspection, I just labeled the unknowns as receptacles. How much time do you spend on this and how responsible are we to figure out mess like this?
If its important and all else fails, I leave unidentified breakers turned off and wait for customer's call. But usually I leave them blank.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
I wish we had more catagories (tools/equipment, general electrical, etc) but since we don't, I guess this is a good a place as any to ask this................

Will a breaker locator/finder work on a fused panel? I don't know exactly what makes them tic, but I've got an idea. I believe it should work but wanted to know if any of you know or have tried them on a fused panel.

In case anyone is on the edge of their seat waiting to hear if these work on a fused panel.....


I'll tell you tomorrow or the next day.:D

No, I actually tried it today and it worked pretty well. Just a little more "trash" noise than I'm used to hearing in a breaker panel. But it worked, I was able to find a circuit that would have been trial/error (removing/replacing fuses) in just a pass or two down the panel.
 

supra

Member
If its important and all else fails, I leave unidentified breakers turned off and wait for customer's call. But usually I leave them blank.
We do that if a customer requests, but usually just put a "?" on the schedule. Have never failed an inspection for an incomplete panel schedule on a service upgrade.
 

hurk27

Senior Member
breaker finders operate at a different frequency then most wire tracers, this is so they don't trace past the breaker and usually shunts when it hits 240 volt loads, try finding a breaker with a wire tracer, while it is possible it can many times be frustrating as you will seem to pick up the signal on many of the breakers and trying to find the right one can be a pain, also since most wire tracers use a self powered transmitter turning the breaker off that you think is the right one will require a trip back to the other end to confirm, this is what makes a breaker finder worth while, as the transmitter is powered by the circuit and turning off the breaker will stop the signal.

As wire tracers well the two I have are worthless for this purpose as they don't pick up the signal very far from the wire, only if you get real close will it trace it and as I said it has to be powered from the circuit you are tracing, there are some dual mode tracers that will do both and if they work well it would be a good buy, but all I have is a Sperry kit, and a green lee, while I also have another green lee that will trace live or dead circuits but without any adjustment for the signal it would be worthless for finding breakers (it has an automatic adjustment) my older one had a adjustable signal level and was so much better and it also would do live or dead circuits up to 600 volts as this one does, the newer ones do have a cat rating I think mine is cat III rated, I also have a underground locater, that I can use as a directional finder as it is very directional in picking up the signal, it works great when you need to follow a wire through a house (and doing underground locates too) but do not use it on live circuits as it is not made for it, it has a cat IIII rating up to 1kv but it will bite the dust if connected to live conductors, as we had another one that was hit with 480v that smoked the transmitter (don't even want to talk about the know it all that did this)

Also remember many times some tracer transmitters also put an audio signal out that can be picked up by a telephone toner receiver (the kind that phone techs use) I have two of them, and using them in conjunction with my tracers can really make a difference in tracing, so some times you got to be creative and think out of the box, just do not ever hook up a toner to a live circuit!!!

if you do have a toner kit try it out on finding any dead circuit you might be surprised to find it can be easier to follow the conductors if not in conduit, another signal source can be a simple radio output, connect the speaker wire to the conductor (dead) you want to trace and use the phone toner receiver, it uses what is called a AM (amplitude Modulation) detector diode that will detect any AM type of signal, rub the detection end of it through your hair and you will hear the static, put it near any speaker wires or even a phone wire that is in-use and you will hear the conversation.

I hope this can open up a few minds to realize we have many options to trace wires but finding the right breaker when shutting down the wrong circuit is not an option, a good breaker finder is the best tool to use.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
That's what I like about my Amprobe tracer, it is powered from the circuit, so if you turn off the breaker, the signal stops. It is also good for finding parralleled breakers and neutrals. Commercial cash wrap stands will have two different power sources, dirty and clean. If someone screws up and mixes the neutrals or hots, or even parrallels them you can locate them because it divides the signal.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top