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Author Topic: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits  (Read 41587 times)

Puck

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How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« on: December 05, 2006, 12:31:03 PM »

I looked around but didn't find any how-to guide for this, so I thought I'd put one together.

This guide is intended to help people (not familiar with) the how to & why for of mapping their electrical circuits.

As any member who has already done this can attest to, knowing how your house is wired makes troubleshooting X-10 problems easier.

The following is the method I used, other members are encouraged to post alternative methods they found works (hopefully in the end, we can compile a nice easy how-to from all the ideas):

  • 1. First and foremost, do this in the daytime and try to do it when no one else is home (Extremely LOW-WAF process ahead (if she's at home)) Since all breakers get initially turned OFF, you will be relying on natural light (good to have a flashlight handy too).

  • 2. Get a circuit tester for speed / convenience purposes (a DMM or night light will work to), but this tester will also ,make sure your circuit wiring is up-to-code.

    NOTE: As an alternaive, a Gardner Bender Circuit Breaker Finder at Home Depot can help you map out your outlets without turning all your breakers off at once. You would still need to toggle the breakers for mapping Lights etc. (Thanks JimC for that idea.) If this method is chosen, adjust the following steps accordingly.

  • 3. Draw a map of each room of your house. Locate and draw every outlet, switch, light, etc. in that room. Remember to label each when there are more than one (especially outlets). What I did was went clockwise from the main entrance to the room and started labeling each outlet in order (1, 2, 3, etc.). Whatever method you choose, be consistent with all rooms.

    NOTE 1: During the next steps, don't forget about the hidden things (doorbells, outside plugs, furnace, bathroom fans, built-in VAC, garage door opener, etc.)

    NOTE 2: Locate and record any outlets that are controlled by a wall switch. Make sure the switch is in the ON State.

  • 4. Look at your breaker panel. Make a list of each breaker number and what phase it's on (for simplicity I called them "Phase A" & "Phase B")

    Most panels have 2 rows of breakers, and the Phases generally alternate as follows (however yours may differ):

                       PHASE      PHASE
    BREAKER  |     A              A
    BREAKER  |     B              B
    BREAKER  |     A              A
    BREAKER  |     B              B
      ETC         |     A              A

  • 5. Now for the tedious part... as bad as it is, don't cut corners here, if you do you are bound to miss something that will cause a problem for you later (Murphy says so):

    • Turn OFF ALL Breakers.

    • Turn ON the first breaker. Check every outlet / light / hidden item in the house and mark on your map / breaker list what just came alive for that breaker.

      NOTE: some outlets have each socket on a different breaker, so always check both sockets.

    • Continue turning breakers ON one at a time, checking all remaining outlets / lights / hidden items, until you have them ALL ON and everything is mapped out.

    • As you get further down the breakers, the time to check gets shorter because you don't have to recheck anything that is already mapped.


  • 6. Put all this information in a spreadsheet (or whatever you choose) so that you can instantly see what phase & what circuit breaker each outlet / light / hidden item is on

  • 7. Now record where you have each of your X-10 modules / switches / tranceivers / etc. plugged in or wired in (also including it's House & Unit Codes for easy reference)


Do you see that problem module on the other phase plugged into the same electric circuit as a PC in a DIFFERENT room?  ;)

You can now use this wealth of knowledge to plan you X-10 layouts (additions / moving stuff around / etc.).


[Upated: clarified and added details, idea from JimC, formatting.]

« Last Edit: December 07, 2006, 12:28:06 PM by Puck »
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HA Dave

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2006, 07:12:31 PM »

This is a great and well written guide that I am sure will be helpful to many X10 users for some time to come.

This is an excellent contribution to the X10 Community (and the forum). Thank You Puck.
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KDR

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2006, 08:20:18 PM »

Very nice write-up Puck. Everyone should map their system
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Brian H

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2006, 07:00:39 AM »

Mapping the whole home is a very good thing to do.
It has been a great help to me when I have a problem.
Thank you for the good article on how it was done. It will be a great tool for new and seasoned users.
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JimC

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2006, 07:23:23 AM »

Great How-to Guide Puck.

I used a circuit tracer available from most of the big box home improvement stores like Home Depot. They cost about $30 and work great. You simply plug the transmiter into an outlet and take the receiver and run it along the breakers. When you get to the breaker that the transmiter is plugged into it will beep and an led lights. The big advantage to this is that no breakers need to be turned off. This greatly improves the WAF.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2006, 07:27:56 AM by JimC »
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ronald hirsch

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2006, 06:13:45 AM »

The circuit tracer approach is very handy to map out breakers.

For lights et al which don't have a place to plug in the transmitter, use a screw-in adapter for a light socket, which has accepts a 2 blade ac plug for the transmitter to ne powered up.

Ron Hirsch
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UncleRico

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2007, 07:57:43 PM »

A usefull tool, that maybe some aren't aware of, is a circuit breaker tracer.   Here's an example:

http://www.professionalequipment.com/amprobe-circuit-breaker-tracer-bt-120/circuit-tracers/

Home Depot carries a version of these for less and it sniff out the actual breaker of the suspect receptical. 

:-)

"Nice how to, by the way."
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Brian H

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2007, 10:56:29 AM »

Mine looks close to the one your link shows. I got mine at radio Shack a few years ago.
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HRHKEE

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2007, 04:16:42 PM »

Puck:

If you don't work for X10 - they should hire you as a technical writer or a development manager.

If you do work for X10 - you should have been commended for this. Good Job.

Thank you.

JM
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solareclipse

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2007, 11:42:59 AM »

This is a pretty thorough write-up and process!  The main differences that I use are that I start with all breakers on, and turn each one off individually and go around looking for what went off.  This is easier to accomplish at night when you can see your outside lights, etc.  It also has a higher WAF.  ;) 

I also don't draw a map, I use a simple table in a Word document with the breaker number in one column and a description in the second column of what is on that circuit.  Then I print it out and hang it next to my breaker panel for easy reference.

For some reason, I was mistaken in thinking that all the odd breakers are on one phase and the evens on the other.  It makes far more sense that the rows alternate, seeing that bridged 220 breakers are in the same column.  I made have to add a "Phase" column to my map.
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Brian H

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Re: How-To: Map Your Electrical Circuits
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2007, 12:54:06 PM »

I don't have a map either. I did make a chart of what is on each breaker and also a very rough phase chart. All I did with that was use a Powerflash to send signals and use an ELK ESM-1 to watch the bars. In my home with no coupler or repeater the phases where fairly easy to chart.
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