Triplett Breaker Sniff-It (Type 2): Because “Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe” is No Way to Find the Right Circuit Breaker
Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You’re sitting in your home office, hammering out a blog entry (or Facebook status update, or similar) on your laptop, when suddenly the overhead light goes out, and your PDU starts screeching for lack of electricity. Just as you’re saving your work and powering down so that you don’t lose anything, you hear a muffled “Ummmmmm… sorry!!!” drifting up from the basement, and you realize exactly what’s happened.
It’s an age-old story, one that’s resonated throughout human existence for as long as there have been circuit breakers. Someone needs to replace a light switch or receptacle, so they mosey over to the breaker box, throw what has to be the right breaker (according to the time-honored “Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe” selection process), and plunge the wrong part of the house into the depths of darkness and electrical deprivation. Oopsie.
Aside from the sheer annoyingness of it all, there’s also the danger factor. There are some people out there who are trusting and assume that as long as they’ve snapped the supposedly correct circuit breaker into the “off” position, they’re clear to safely begin work. That type gets shocked far more often than I do. Me, I prefer to take the more paranoid route and check a few hundred times that the circuit I’m about to touch is nice and de-energized. That process is significantly shortened if I know for sure that I killed power to the right breaker to begin with.
And how does one do that, you ask? Very easily, thanks to gadgets like the Triplett Sniff-It Type 2 breaker locator. It’s a super simple two-piece electrical tester that leads you straight to the correct breaker switch the first time around, no guessing or squinting required. To use it, you just plug the receptacle unit into the outlet on which you’ll be working, and then take the “sniffer” part of the test set to your breaker box. Run the nose of detector over the circuit breakers, and when the tester starts to beep and blink, you’ll know you’ve found the right one.
The Sniff-It Type 2 isn’t limited to use with receptacles; if you need to customize your testing, you can also use optional accessories like light socket and alligator clip adapters to tailor this amazing little detector to just about any job.
It’s happened to the best of us: you need to change an outlet or swap out a light fixture, but when you run to the breaker box to shut off the circuit you’ll be working on, confused head scratching ensues. Maybe the breaker labels are a little too old and worn to read, or you just can’t make out the chicken-scratch of the last people who lived there. Whatever the reason is, your lack of breaker ID leaves you using the old trial-and-error method, which is no way to locate an electrical circuit. When it comes to electricity, Trial and Error are not our friends – they’ll either have you turning off all the wrong breakers before you find the right one (have fun resetting every digital clock in your house), or otherwise thinking you flipped the right one the first time around… until you find out (the hard way) shortly thereafter that that’s not the case (ouch).
Thankfully, Ideal Industries is in tune with Mystery Circuit Breaker woes, and has come to the rescue with an extremely cool Digital Breaker Finder. This two-piece locator is super-simple to use, and will cut out all of the guessing and time-wasting that you usually deal with on your quest to find the right breaker. Just plug the transmitter into the receptacle that you plan to work on, and then mosey to the breaker box with the receiver in hand. Run the receiver over the breakers until the green LEDs flash, and you’re in business. Too easy.
I realize that I’m recommending this from a consumerish, home owner standpoint, but this is a total must-have for professional electricians and HVAC technicians as well. Walking into strange houses and decoding their individual breaker situations day in and day out is even more annoying than deciphering one’s own circuit breaker fiasco, so toss one of these breaker finder sets into your tool bag – the faster that you knock one job out, the sooner you can get onto the next. And lowering your risk of shock never hurts either.