I just moved into a new apartment and got permission to install a wi-fi enabled thermostat, but I don't understand the labels on the breaker box. My immediate thought is to just flip them all and hope it doesn't get too hot or dark while installing, but I thought it would help to know the correct breakers if I need them in the future (very old house, so very likely).

The picture below shows the current labeling. In particular, I don't know what "rec" means and it is repeated often in the list. I also can't really read the word after washer: does anyone recognize a standard word from this?

Breaker label list with Kitchen lights, living room rec, living room, rec's, GFI-Bathroom, Washer-Mack, Kitchen-Rec, Bedroom-Rec, Bedroom-Lights, Rec's Dining, Main, Rec's Kitchen, Dryer, Bathroom Lights, Kitchen-Rec's, Rec's, Hall-Light, Dining Room Light

I was also a bit shocked that everything seems to be on a different breaker. I'm used to one breaker per room, but I suppose it's meant to keep one problem from escalating to the whole house.

  • 7
    Rec is probably receptacles/outlets. I would not trust any labels I did not placed until tested. Even with all the breakers off, testing for power is still a good idea. Multi-units might have weird power designs or a single house might have a sub panel that is not known.
    – crip659
    Jun 9, 2023 at 14:55
  • 1
    Washer "Mach" (ine).
    – jay613
    Jun 9, 2023 at 15:07
  • Breaker labels are always lies. Jun 9, 2023 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


The thermostat will receive power from the heating or A/C system, and that isn't labelled here. I am guessing it is powered centrally by the building. You may not be able to turn it off. It may not be compatible with a new smart thermostat.

First thing to do is remove it (or its cover) from the wall and test the voltages with a multimeter. While doing this be prepared for high voltage. If you don't know how to work around live high voltage, stop. Hire an electrician to do this. Hopefully you'll find 24V AC, which is what most smart thermostats want.

Next thing I'd do is turn off ALL the breakers briefly to see if the thermostat is powered by any of them. If so, figure out which one and turn the rest back on. If not, and if it's 24V you can ask the manager to turn it off while you do this work or carefully carry out the installation with the power on.


That's a lot of individual circuits for an apartment, but not incorrect.

I don't see one labeled as AC, heat or air handler.

Instead of turning off everything, just turn them off one at a time. Then you will know which one supplies your system.

'Rec' means receptacle. Those would be the outlets.

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