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Old 04-15-2014, 10:14 AM   #1
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


The place where I work was once a church that we bought 10 years ago and the labels in the breaker panels have never been updated (even though we have had circuits added/moved by electricians). We are going to make new labels that make sense to the current building configuration but do not know what kind of wire tracer is needed. All we need to do is, in an energized environment, trace which breakers belong to which outlets or lights. I found this Amprobe one, but was hoping to find a tester for much less than a grand (maybe $300-$500?). This may be the only time we use it, but I would venture to say that it would be cheaper than hiring an electrician to find them for us.

Do any of you have a wire tracer that works on energized lines that works for you?

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Old 04-15-2014, 10:23 AM   #2
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


I don't have a good tracer.

But considering it's a one shot use, why don't you get on a walky-talky or cell phone.... one guy at the panel.... and another testing and marking down each light/recep/hard wired appliance.

I have to do it almost every new to me (OLD) property I have.

Do it almost first thing.... after it's mapped, you can usually figure out your runs pretty close.

I always make a new detailed breaker label... on Excell.

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Old 04-15-2014, 10:42 AM   #3
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


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I don't have a good tracer.

But considering it's a one shot use, why don't you get on a walky-talky or cell phone.... one guy at the panel.... and another testing and marking down each light/recep/hard wired appliance.

I have to do it almost every new to me (OLD) property I have.

Do it almost first thing.... after it's mapped, you can usually figure out your runs pretty close.

I always make a new detailed breaker label... on Excell.
This is our second option but would have to do it after hours because we cannot start turning breakers off during the day. I would rather leave all of our power on since computers stay on, point-of-sales are on, my servers/network equipment are always on, etc.
We may have future use for the tester, but just don't know at this point. We have 2 panels with with 42 breakers in each and a sub-panel with 12 spots, I would think even at $1,000 that would be cheaper than hiring an electrician.
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Old 04-15-2014, 12:01 PM   #4
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


Several people maker breaker finders for under $50.
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:38 PM   #5
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Several people maker breaker finders for under $50.
Jim.... I think you are referring to what I do have.... don't remember my brand..... you plug a sending unit into the recep and go listen for a beep at the breakers with a receiving unit...

Mine will get you close to the correct breaker, but I wouldn't count on mine to pinpoint the exact breaker.... maybe others are better.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:10 PM   #6
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


This is one.
http://www.idealindustries.com/prodD...trical_testers
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:24 PM   #7
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I saw that one, but the one thing it does not do is test non-incandescent light fixture cicuits (we have mostly fluorescent in our building). That is a nice featured tester for under $100.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:13 PM   #8
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


If you are looking for a finder that you can just plug into a 4 or 8 foot fluorescent fixture, I don't think you are going to find one.

You can use an adapter to connect to the wires before the ballast, but to do that you would need someone that can open up the fixture and connect to the correct wires. Or pull the light switch and connect to wires in the box.

If you concentrate on mapping just the receptacles and marking those breakers, it will reduce the number of circuits that you will have to ID by shutting them off.

If you have IDed all of the circuits that the computers, etc are on, it should be no harm to trip single pole breakers to ID which lights are on which breakers.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:17 PM   #9
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What I have found (expensive) are testers with clamps that go around any set of wires i.e the wires that feed the lights.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:38 PM   #10
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What I have found (expensive) are testers with clamps that go around any set of wires i.e the wires that feed the lights.
CJ.... So, you'll have to take the light down/apart....each light verse throwing one breaker to discover all the lights... how's that work for a receptical.....

I'd go in at night and start throwing breakers.... take some beer and doritas.... make a game/party out of it with some of the congragation.....
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:53 PM   #11
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If you think you have the knowledge and the skill to run that expensive equipment, go for it.

Just because you buy a surgeons tool, doesn't mean you will get the same results.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:34 PM   #12
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


I have Ideal circuit tracer mentioned in the previous post. It only works on receptacles but what I've used it before to identify lighting circuits. You need to plug the sending unit into a female receptacle cord cap that has some wire leads attached to it. Make sure you have the appropriate color connected to your cord cap. Attach the leads to the fixture wiring, before the ballast/s. Using this method you will get a signal with the receiving unit at the breaker box.

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Old 04-15-2014, 06:46 PM   #13
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Since this sounds commercial the lights are probably on separate circuits and may even be a different voltage than the receptacles.
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:51 PM   #14
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If you think you have the knowledge and the skill to run that expensive equipment, go for it.

Just because you buy a surgeons tool, doesn't mean you will get the same results.

Oso...... Beer and Doritas..... Believe me....I am an expert.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:43 AM   #15
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Wire Tracer Recomendations? Energized Cicuits


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Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
CJ.... So, you'll have to take the light down/apart....each light verse throwing one breaker to discover all the lights... how's that work for a receptical.....

I'd go in at night and start throwing breakers.... take some beer and doritas.... make a game/party out of it with some of the congragation.....
From the tester that I linked, it has two transmitters: 1 clamp and 1 receptacle. We have drop ceilings throughout the buuilding, but if we did not have that then yes, we would have to take the light down out of the ceiling.

I guess the only cheaper solution to a $1000 tester is a weekend flipping breakers. Thanks for the responses. If anything fun happens while we do this, I will pass it along.

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