People who live in older homes might have experienced common electrical household troubles, one of which is the lighting that’s occasionally becoming dimmer, then bright again after a moment, even though they’re not adjusting their output.
Another one is experiencing an electrical overload. It’s a dangerous electrical problem that is most likely experienced when people turn on several appliances in the house all at once, causing the power to completely go out.
One of the electrical tools that can be used to determine and solve such problems is a circuit breaker finder.
When you say circuit breaker finder, people often commit the common mistake of putting the tool in a similar context as circuit breaker tracer.
What is a circuit breaker finder and what is its difference from a circuit breaker? Let’s see in the coming section.
WHAT IS A CIRCUIT BREAKER FINDER?
Circuit breakers are safety devices, promoting convenience among their users. It is used to protect electrical systems from overloading the circuit wires or experiencing a short circuit. Circuit breakers perform a very important role as they make sure that the electricity is disabled whenever people have too much load on their single circuit.
A device called circuit breaker finder makes it easy for people to sort out and fix the common household electronic troubles. It easily locates a circuit within an electrical power panel or load center. This device also works for either circuit breakers or fuses.
CIRCUIT BREAKER FINDER VS CIRCUIT BREAKER TRACER
A circuit breaker finder typically works on circuits that are energized. The transmitter plugs into an outlet and draws spikes current off the line for a short duration, yielding a strong signal. With this, the device doesn’t need batteries and it doesn’t really do much other than drawing current pulses that the receiver detects. In addition, the device is only intended to work on short distances between the current carrying parts in the breaker and the tool. Therefore, the receiver doesn’t need high sensitivity that much to determine the proper breaker.
A circuit breaker tracer is a device used to follow or trace the path of a circuit. Electricians, especially professional ones, use this device to trace wires for them to be able to remodel a house, knowing the circuit system behind the walls that workers may or may not be removing. These tools are also used to find short circuits or follow a wire located within an electrical conduit.
Circuit breaker tracers can work on either energized (live) circuits or de-energized (open) circuits.
Now that we know what circuit breaker finders are and what they do, let’s answer the question: How does it actually work?
HOW DO CIRCUIT BREAKER FINDERS WORK?
The electronic breaker finder works with a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is plugged into the outlet where you’re trying to determine the controlling circuit breaker or fuse. As what have been previously told, the receiver detects the current pulses that the device draws.
At the electrical service panel, the user will use the electronic receiver paired with the transmitter. When the receiver detects the electronic signal from the transmitter when it passes over the circuit and the circuit breaker, it rapidly beeps and flashes.
A follow-up question to this section will be: How do you use such device?
HOW TO USE A CIRCUIT BREAKER FINDER?
Before anything else, you always have to test the device’s transmitter and receiver. Make sure the receiver will detect the transmitter’s signal. Place the receiver near the transmitter. If the receiver is working and the wall outlet’s power is on, a distinctive beep will be heard, occurring about six times per second, and the LED will flash.
Here are the steps on matching a circuit to a circuit breaker:
- While the power is on, plug the transmitter into the said wall outlet.
- At the circuit breaker panel or fuse box, hold the receiver such that the surface of the tapered end is at a right angle, directly on the face of the circuit breaker or fuse.
- Slowly move the receiver in an up-and-down motion over the row(s) of circuit breakers, while continually lowering its sensitivity by rotating the wheel away from the panel box until only one breaker causes it to beep.
- After locating the right breaker, turn off the circuit and the receiver will stop beeping.
- Check if the red light on the transmitter in the outlet is off as this confirms that the right breaker had been turned off.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A CIRCUIT BREAKER FINDER
Before buying any product, there will always be things you should keep in mind before actually going to purchase an item. Here’s a very short list of 3 things to consider before placing a purchase on a circuit breaker finder:
- QUALITY: As always, this is included. You never go wrong with an item that has an outstanding quality. If the products were made of high-quality materials, consumers like you will save big time on time and money. Important reminder: Just because the product is expensive doesn’t mean it’s as what it’s advertised. Sometimes, these things can lead you to more expenses than what you originally intend to pay for.
- DURABILITY: Quality and durability will always be on this kind of lists. Durability is the strongest one to determine if your item will last long for your benefit of usage. If a product were high quality made, there’s a big possibility that it also has a high durability feature.
- FEATURES: What does this circuit breaker finder have that other brands don’t? Are these features worth every penny? Do these features suit the job needed?
These questions are just some of the things you should ask yourself before going to buy the tool. Keep in mind that knowing the products’ features is very important as it will greatly affect how you’ll perform and finish the given task with the tool.
To help you more about what to purchase, we’ve picked out the top 5 circuit breaker finders in the market. The items are as follows:
|Name||GFCI Tester||Ground Plug||Audible||Visual Indicator||Warranty||Price|
|Klein Tools ET300||No||No||Yes||LED||2 Years||$$|
|Extech CB10||Yes||Yes||Yes||LED||1 Year||$$$|
|Sperry Instruments CSC550A||Yes||Yes||Yes||LED Array||Lifetime (Limited)||$$|
|Amprobe BT-120||No||No||Yes||LED||1 Year||$|
|IDEAL 61-534||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||2 Year||$$$|
Klein Tools ET300 Digital Circuit Breaker Finder
As everyone knows, Klein Tools is one of the leading brands for workman’s tool needs. Klein’s innovative line of test and measurement equipment is specifically designed to fit the needs of every workman, especially electricians. The brand promotes reliability, high durability, and functionality, resulting in an optimum performance.
Klein’s circuit breaker finder features quick, accurate and automatic detection of the circuit breaker of any 120V standard outlet. It comes with a strong transmitter that can reach up to 1000 feet. The transmitter also has a two prong outlet that allows you to use in almost any outlet.
The product’s button activated receiver ensures you that it’s only checking for a signal when placed in the appropriate location. The flashing arrow on the device is an indicator that lets you identify when you’ve got a hit. The product is also designed to have an automatic power-off feature that saves battery life for everyone’s convenience.
- This device’s transmitter can send a clear signal up to 1000 feet in distance.
- Sensitivity won’t be a problem as the receiver is a microprocessor controlled and the transmitter is sending a digital signal.
- It has an auto power-off feature that saves battery life.
- The product comes with a case made from thick and reinforced plastic that can withstand more use than other models and can’t be wrecked easily.
- The product was not as advertised.
- There’s a design flaw wherein the device will turn on when it bumps on its case.
- The switch button is sensitive.
Extech CB10 Circuit Breaker Finder
Extech’s AC circuit breaker allows the user to easily locate circuit breakers and test receptacle wires. It enables the user to quickly 110V to 125V AC circuits, and when it does find the correct circuit breaker, flashing LEDs and audible beeps serve as an indicator.
Portability is evident as this device’s transmitter and receiver can be snapped together for easier storage. Easier work is also featured as you only need to plug the transmitter into an outlet and trace the correct breaker at the electrical box.
Its transmitter also verifies wiring ant tests GFCI operation. The bright red and green LEDs determine if the receptacle is correctly wired or if not, it will indicate which of the 5 fault conditions exists.
- It’s very portable with its snap-together transmitter and receiver.
- It has an adjustable sensitivity to be able to pinpoint the correct circuit breaker.
- The circuit breaker finder can quickly locate 110V to 125V circuit breakers and fuses.
- The product comes with an audible beeper and flashing LED for indicators.
- The product breaks easily.
- The product doesn’t pinpoint the actual circuit.
Sperry Instruments CSC550A Circuit Breaker Finder
This circuit breaker finder works by simply plugging the transmitter into a receptacle in the room where you want to work, and then testing the breakers to identify the correct breakers through the receiver.
The receiver has two indicators which alert you when the correct breaker is found: the visual flashlight and the audible beeping sound.
- The device does not interfere with sensitive electronic equipment.
- The circuit breaker finder quickly identifies individual branch circuits at the panel box without interrupting power.
- The product is compact in size and is definitely easy to use.
- It comes with distinctive signals (audible and visual indicators) that let the user know that he found the correct circuit breaker.
- Some say that the product worked in their first time of using it and then the device dies when it’s time for the second use.
- The online instructions on how to use the product isn’t quite clear.
Amprobe BT-120 Circuit Breaker Tracer
The transmitter is plugged into an outlet while the receiver finds the correct breaker with its automatic and adjustable sensitivity and light and sound as indicators.
The transmitters red LED indicator verifies that the receptacle is energized before receptacle or wiring maintenance.
- The product is relatively easy to use and very convenient among its consumers.
- It always finds the correct breaker.
- It is compatible with the standard 90 to 120V AC 50/60 Hz breaker system.
- This circuit breaker tracer can identify circuit breakers on energized 120V electrical systems.
- It maps the outlet with plugged in transmitter to the correct breaker indicated by the receiver.
- The device seemed to have poor signal.
- For some, the product doesn’t work beyond about 12 feet in distance.
- The device needs to be turned off to be reset each time when going to a different outlet.
IDEAL 61-534 Digital Circuit Breaker Finder
It automatically indicates the right breaker and with the help of the GFCI tester, the wiring can also be verified if it’s correctly wired or if it isn’t, it will indicate which of the 5 fault condition exists in the system.
- The device is UL and CE approved.
- It has a two-year warranty.
- It positively identifies circuit breakers and fuses without service interruption.
- The product comes with a GFCI tester that indicates if the wiring is correctly wired or falls under the 5 fault conditions.
- The identifier wasn’t very accurate.
- It’s hard to get it to work.
We have come to the end of this article. Hopefully, this article guided you through the world of circuit breaker finders and helped you a lot through the guides and product reviews.