Technology is part of our life and part of our homes. TVs, DVRs, home theater systems with surround sound, computers, printers, tablets, iPods, smart phones, routers, modems. An overwhelming number of additional electrical and electronic items need to be plugged in and charged.  Your system may be coping just fine on a regular basis, but when additional power is suddenly needed, you may have a problem.

It’s December.  This year you have decided to go big or go home. You have multi colored lights around the house and twinkling stars on every tree. You are ready to turn them on and – nothing. That extra power needed by the lights overloads the circuit, the circuit breaker trips, lights go out in the living room and a desperate cry pierces the air as the TV dies in the middle of a favorite show.


The immediate solution is to shift some plug-in devices from the overloaded circuit to a different circuit in the house, in order to ease the load. When you have done this, flip the circuit breaker back on and see if this solves the problem. Let’s hope you can now admire your holiday lighting extravaganza.  It will be easier to trace and identify each circuit if you have them well labeled on your service panel. Read our article BE A BRIGHT SPARK AND MAP YOUR WIRING.


Tracing a circuit is a lot easier if there are two of you. Turn off a circuit breaker at the main panel, then go through your home flicking on light switches and testing outlets to see what the breaker controls. I use a nightlight to plug in. Don’t forget any outdoor outlets.


If your problem is simply a temporary, seasonal one, like your holiday lights, you may be able to live with a makeshift solution for a few weeks.  If you are frequently experiencing this issue as a result of daily usage, you may need to add new outlets. This is a job for an electrician who needs to assess whether your present system can take additional outlets, and which circuits they can be added to.