Living in an apartment for a few years and just now tried to label the circuit breakers. Everything is electric. There is no gas in the building. Oven/Range, Water Heater, Baseboard Heaters, in-wall panel heater in the bathroom, fridge, Air Conditioner,... I have no to little knowledge about this stuff, so please correctly me if I am using terminology incorrectly or if I am wrong about anything.

No numbers so I'm using what I think is conventional labeling. #1 is Top Left, #2 is Top Right. Odds on Left, Evens on right. #13 is Bottom Left, #14 is Bottom Right

*#5 is a 15Amp single pole that controls the lights and outlets in both the bedroom and adjoining bath as well as the bathroom exhaust.

#6 is a 15Amp single pole that controls the outlets in the living/dining room area.

#7 and #9 make a 60Amp double pole that controls the oven/range.

#8 and #10 make a 30Amp double pole that I'm guessing controls the water heater.

#12 is a 20Amp single pole that controls the lights and outlets in the kitchen as well as the fridge/freezer.

#13 is a 20Amp single pole that doesn't seem to do anything (that I have found yet).*

That leaves the wall unit air conditioner, the three electric baseboard heaters, and the bathroom heater. Each baseboard heater has its own wall mounted thermostat. The bathroom heater just has a power knob.

**#1 and #4 need to be BOTH ON for either the bedroom heater or bathroom heater to work. Both are single pole 20Amp breakers on opposite sides of the panel (diagonal).

#2 and #3 need to be BOTH ON for the dining area heater to work. Both are single pole 20Amp breakers on opposite sides of the panel (diagonal).

#11 and #14 need to be BOTH ON for either the living room heater or the air conditioner to work. Both are single pole 20Amp breakers on opposite sides of the panel (diagonal).**

? Does this mean those heaters are wired for 240V and 20Amps? Or 120V and 40Amps? Or does each heater require TWO DIFFERENT 120V 20Amps circuits to work? Is is safe to be wired like this? Flipping either breaker OFF will shut down the heater, but is the whole circuit dead- or will the other breaker still provide half the voltage (or current)?

? Is it likely that the 30Amp double pole (#8 and #10) IS the water heater? And is it likely that there is a 20Amp breaker (#13) that doesn't do anything?

Right side

Left side




  • 1
    Including a clear, focused picture of your panel will help immensely. Also, clear, readable pics of the labels on the panel would be an additional bonus. Edit your post, click the "sun & mountain" icon above the text entry box and use that to let DIY upload & host your images for you - they'll also be embedded in your post so nobody has to go click elsewhere to see them.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 12, 2020 at 13:50
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    If the breakers are on the same lug as in 1-2 there would be no potential difference or voltage so a 240v heater would not work in this case. possibly 120v heaters to be used but one would not need the other to work. If the heaters are 240v this is would be a code violation for as long as I have been an electrician. The 2 breakers are usually horizontally in the same row but you said diagonal so more info is needed to verify the panel type like a photo or the brand and model usually inside the door. Most brands number 1,2,3 down 1 side. even= buss L1 and odd = buss L2. It takes L1+L2=240v
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 12, 2020 at 14:54
  • Added some pictures if it helps. Pardon the messy labeling on my part. I got confused because I found a breaker that turned off a circuit, then realized there was more to the story Nov 12, 2020 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you have the numbering correct.

240v is the result of any L1 and L2 connection, the NEC requires the handles be tied, so a two pole breaker or adjacent breakers are required.

1 and 2 are L1 connections, 3 and 4 are L2 connections. I think it is possible somebody reversed the wires that are on #3 & #4. Swapping those two from the current position would make the breakers feeding 240v adjacent, and able to be connected (as required by code) with handle ties or preferably two-pole breakers. Why they aren't on handle tied breakers is less clear, may somebody removed the ties after finding they didn't properly disconnect the misaligned connection. The 11/14 connection would create 240v also, but an explaination of why misswired is less clear, maybe another 240v 12/13 was removed.

A typical 120/240v service is created with two opposing 120v legs, L1 and L2, and are built in a typical residential panel fashioned as two interlocking combs feeding horizontal breakers with the same leg. So when you look at the panel 1 and 2 are on L1, 3 and 4 are on L2, 5 and 6 are on L1, 7 and 8 are on L2, etc..

Any place you mount a two-pole breaker by design terminates in two side by side buses, and automatically attaches to the opposing legs.

P.S. The two-pole 30 could be a water heater. The amperage marking on the handle is the rating for maximum current (amps), it does not double for a two-pole connection. Amps are kinda like lanes of traffic. When you make a higher voltage (which is pressure/force) you essentially speed up the flow of electrons within the existing lanes, so you get more work done without needing to increase the wire or breaker size. If you need to use a breaker that allows more amps then you have to use thicker wire. It is also possible #13 is not connected now, my suspicion is it should go to the kitchen since you only show one of the two required 20A circuits that the code requires to feed kitchen countertop work surfaces.

  • I have found more often the numbering odds and even related to pole. Odds are on L1 and evens on L2 with an even number of breaker slots 1 & 13 are in the same horizontal row in a 24/x panel. But as I mentioned not all use the same numbering.
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 12, 2020 at 16:31
  • @EdBeal I like these directories, they even solve the half space numbering problem images.homedepot-static.com/catalog/productImages/1000/2d/… . Also Homeline panels are embossed 1,3,5,7 on left images.homedepot-static.com/catalog/productImages/1000/ad/… Nov 12, 2020 at 16:45
  • I have a program with the major manufacturers logos that prints the panel cards I got it decades back on a floppy but the file and logos still work inspectors love typed directory’s looks the same but prints on 8-1/2 x 11 paper.
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 12, 2020 at 17:12
  • @EdBeal I agree typed directories are the preference, it is nice to have a saved copy too. But sometimes like on a one visit service call I find the directory is missing and I need something to satisfy my inspection, so I keep a couple of those in my truck. Nov 12, 2020 at 17:30
  • I have a inkjet printer that hooks up to my cigarette lighter it is an older version but it still works , they have nicer ones that print color but at my age I would never pay for it. HP office jet 250 is really nice color where mine is only black and white , I am sure the other printer companies will have similar. Print a quote up in 5 minutes not hand written used to seal the deal quite often.
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 12, 2020 at 17:43

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