IVB\’s Home Theater and Home Automation

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Finally mapped out my whole house HV wiring!

Posted by IVB on January 2, 2007

Today’s my last day of vacation, and I am excited about what I did today.  I got completely and utterly sick of playing “guess which circuit this light is on”, and spent all morning first creating a house layout of every single light & outlet in my house in photoshop, then going to the breaker box and tripping each circuit and walking around the house to see what was off. I used my daughter’s small nightlight for each outlet.

Very interesting findings too – we have 19 different circuits total in our small box (some are the half-size, some are double pole).  Last year the electrician was trying to sell us on putting in a bigger box as ours was totally full.  I found 4 different circuits, 3 20A, 1 15A, that I don’t think run anything.  I’ve traced every light & outlet, the furnace, stove, dryer, every other major appliance in the whole house (incl basement), and they don’t trip any of those.  To confirm that they’re unused, I left them off – if something doesn’t work, i guess we’ll find out.

This also saved me some $$ as I was about to going to call the electrician in as we needed a seperate circuit for some stuff – turns out the prior dude had done some reshuffling already without my knowledge, and we’re totally fine on that run. Finally, I’m going to measure the wattage off each appliance so I can make sure no circuits are overloaded – our electric bill was $400 last month for a 1600sqft house, so somethings chewing up something somewhere.

If any of you have similarly old or just mega-extended houses where the prior electricians had a sense of humor, i’d advise the same. It makes life sooo much simpler when I can look at a house layout diagram, then at a grid where I see what circuit to trip, and go right there.


4 Responses to “Finally mapped out my whole house HV wiring!”

  1. What a great idea! I’m currently making plans for my new house and we’ve found that the circuit in the kitchen gets tripped pretty regularly, so mapping out what goes where will really help figure out how to re-allocate the loads.

    What are you going to use to measure the current draw? $400 does seem a bit high, even for a wired house. Electric heater maybe? Old fridges tend to be the most common culprit.

  2. IVB said

    I got a kill-a-watt to measure stuff, not sure what max watts/amps it can measure, but i’ve already measured some stuff and discovered some inefficient appliances.

  3. oh cool! I always thought those kind of devices were a lot more expensive then that. $20 (via froogle), isn’t bad at all. Have you looked into those circuit tracer things at all?

    Found this: http://www.hitechhub.com/

    only $30/40 bucks depending on 110/250v. Not bad, but doesn’t seem to be able to trace lights. I guess the old-fashioned turn it off and see approach is the only way there huh?

  4. IVB said

    Interesting – hadn’t seen those tracers before. But, given that it can’t do lights, plus given that I did 45 outlets, 22 lights, and mapped in photoshop in 6 hours, i’m not sure how much time it would save me. it was pretty simple too – i just turned off one circuit, then walked around to see what wasn’t working. Tracer may actually take more time.

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