The 6 Best Circuit Breaker Locators

Updated May 19, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Every home is wired differently, and sometimes just determining which circuit breaker controls what outlet can be a lengthy task. Whether you are a professional contractor or just looking to do a little DIY wiring at home, a circuit breaker locator will help keep you safe and save time. We've included models with a variety of features, so you're sure to find the right one for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best circuit breaker locator on Amazon.

6. Klein Tools ET300

Designed by and for electricians, the Klein Tools ET300 is a straightforward workhorse. Just plug in the transmitter and start scanning the load center to identify the right breaker, which will be clearly indicated with both audible and visible signals.
  • flashing arrow led indicator
  • auto-sleep feature preserves battery
  • not 100 percent accurate
Brand Klein Tools
Model ET300
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Extech 40180

Just about any circuit finder can locate a control box, but the Extech 40180 can be used to trace phone lines and Ethernet and coaxial cables, too, making it a great choice for homeowners making DIY updates. Just follow the sound from its built-in speaker.
  • choice of continuous or wobble tones
  • insulated tip prevents shorts
  • a bit quieter than most models
Brand Extech
Model 40180
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

4. Amprobe CT-326-C Current Tracer

For those who prefer multifunctional tools, the Amprobe CT-326-C Current Tracer works well for tracing an outlet to its associated breaker switch, but it can also help you follow ground wires and more. It has 12 sensitivity settings to detect both live and neutral lines.
  • can be used to locate short circuits
  • suitable for industrial use
  • considerably expensive
Brand Amprobe
Model 4416119
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. Mastech 6818

The Mastech 6818 locates hidden infrastructure up to 2.5 meters behind walls and can detect voltage in wires up to 0.4 of a meter away. Its sensitivity levels can be manually or automatically adjusted to help pinpoint circuits and cabling.
  • mute mode for silent operation
  • detects open and short circuits
  • won't locate currents underground
Brand Mastech
Model CECOMINOD095613
Weight 6.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

2. Zircon 64057 Breaker ID Pro

Easily scan and identify what's controlling your power with the Zircon 64057 Breaker ID Pro. It features automatic sensitivity adjustment, useful in both residential and industrial applications, and includes alligator clips for use on unfinished outlets.
  • works on currents up to 277v
  • comes with a handy storage case
  • also works with nonstandard outlets
Brand Zircon
Model 64057
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Extech CB10

It's simple to determine which breaker controls the various outlets around your home with the Extech CB10. A highly affordable option, it can reliably test ground fault interrupters and trace lines, making it a great addition to any toolbox.
  • components snap together for storage
  • uses color-coded led signals
  • easily adjustable sensitivity wheel
Brand Extech
Model CB10
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Why Circuit Breakers Matter

To understand circuit breakers, it’s first important to learn how electricity works in a home. When electricians discuss electricity, they’ll often refer to the voltage, the current and the resistance. The voltage, which is typically listed on items like power tools, is the amount of pressure that mobilizes an electrical charge. The current refers to the speed of that charge. The charge moves through a conductor, which provides a certain amount of resistance, slowing the electricity down. Each of these elements directly affects the other, as seen by the equation I=v/r (current equals voltage divided by resistance). Altering one will always alter the other two.

When a person is electrocuted and admitted to the hospital, the doctor might ask what the voltage of the tool or device was that hurt the individual. That is because a higher voltage can mean a more dangerous injury. Voltages for different appliances vary depending on the country and the adapter. With the dangers of electricity in mind, one can begin to understand the need for a circuit breaker. Circuit breakers can shut off power in a house when the electrical current is too strong, causing devices to send out sparks and potentially hurt people. Circuit breakers can also help prevent electrical-related accidents.

One can usually find a control panel for a circuit breaker, which is connected to a complex network of wires throughout the home. Damaging those wires can be very dangerous, but since they cannot be seen through the wall, people need circuit breaker locators to find them. Anytime people perform renovations in their home and need to break through a wall, it’s essential that they use a circuit breaker locator to make sure they don’t accidentally send a hammer or power tool through a wire.

Features Of A Circuit Breaker Locator

Some circuit breaker locators can find additional important items behind walls, like phone and computer network cables. Damaging these can lead to extremely expensive repairs, and leave a home without Internet and working telephones for days. Some models can even find ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which are devices that turn off power if they suspect an electrical current is running through something it shouldn’t be, such as water. These are critical to the safety of a home and shouldn’t be damaged.

Sometimes wires run under the ground or floor boards, which is why homeowners might want a circuit breaker locator that can detect electrical currents through several common types of walls. In some homes, the electrical wiring is several feet behind the wall, or sits under a thick material. People dealing with these conditions should use a circuit breaker locator that is extremely sensitive and can pick up a current that’s far away, or covered by several feet of building material.

For those who struggle to interpret the screens on circuit breaker locators, a model that beeps and flashes when it finds a current can be incredibly useful. If one needs a locator for residential and commercial use, they should get one with sensitivity adjustment, since these two types of buildings can have drastically different voltages running through their wires.

Common Household Electrical Troubles

People in older homes might notice that their lights occasionally become dim, and then bright again, even though they are not manually adjusting their output. This could be a sign that the neutral conductor is poorly connected, causing voltage changes that result in lights becoming darker and brighter, or flickering. An electrician can determine how loose the conductor is and what has to be done. They may need to remove the conductor entirely, re-strip it and reinstall it.

Anyone who uses a blow dryer has probably noticed that there are two buttons on the outside of the plug that read “Reset” and “Test.” These act as circuit breakers. When a person is done using the blow dryer but has left it plugged in, the reset button will pop out, making it so the appliance is no longer pulling electrical current from the wall. This can prevent electrical surges and injury to the user. A person has to press the reset button in order to use their blow dryer again. This shouldn’t be considered a nuisance, but rather a safety precaution taken by the manufacturer.

Electrical overload is another common and dangerous electrical problem in homes. Many people have had the experience of turning on several appliances in the house at one time and causing the power to go out completely. These incidents are not only annoying but can be hazardous so it's important that people try to avoid them. There are two types of circuits in most homes; dedicated and general.

Dedicated circuits deliver power to demanding appliances like garbage disposals, whereas general ones service multiple outlets around the home, powering what are known as vampire appliances. If they are overloaded, they can cause a whole-house outage.

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Last updated on May 19, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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