2848: Breaker Box

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Breaker Box
Any electrician will warn you to first locate and flip the house's CAUSALITY circuit breaker before touching the CIRCUIT BREAKERS one.
Title text: Any electrician will warn you to first locate and flip the house's CAUSALITY circuit breaker before touching the CIRCUIT BREAKERS one.


A distribution board, referred to as a "breaker box" here and also commonly referred to as a "fuse box", "breaker panel", "DB box", and many other names, is a metal box attached to a wall, usually in some maintenance area, containing multiple circuit breakers that distribute electricity to various parts of the building. A circuit breaker is an electrical switch, usually in the form of a small lever, which disconnects the circuit from the power source when opened. These breakers are designed to automatically open if too much electrical current flows through them. This is a safety measure to reduce the risk of damage, fire or electrocution in the event of a short circuit or an overloaded line. These breakers can also be opened manually, deactivating the circuit to allow electrical work to be done.

In breaker boxes, each individual breaker is typically labeled to let the operator know what that breaker controls. Typically, the circuit controlled by each breaker will feed an intuitive set of connections: a certain room, or set of rooms, or possibly a set of related services (like overhead lights, or all the outlets on one floor). Some large appliances will have a dedicated circuit and breaker.

However, in houses that have been rewired multiple times (or were poorly wired the first time), this can quickly become overcomplicated with seemingly random connections. Randall lives in Boston where much of the housing stock is from the late 1800s and early 1900s, and he is likely to live in a house with non-ideal wiring, which may have inspired this comic.

The comic satirizes these complex wiring setups, with multiple breakers "controlling" arbitrary things, including some that – in the classic style of xkcd – are puns on the word "breaker" or may be impossible to hook a breaker up to, getting progressively more absurd to the point of nullifying laws and "breaking" certain laws of physics.

Typically, switches in a breaker-box have the same orientation of "on" and "off" direction. This particular setup appears to adopt the convention that all switches are on (or, possibly, that all are off) when flipped towards the centre of the panel. Exactly which direction the switches are installed would be more obvious from coloration, markings or even relief details that would be manufactured into the switch subunits but which are not so fully depicted in the comic.

Table of the breaker labels[edit]

Label next to breaker Explanation Note
Left column of switches
Kitchen lights The lights in the kitchen. Standard items that could be separate
Living room lights The lights in the living room.
Porch lights The lights on the porch.
Bathroom lights and one surprise mystery outlet somewhere The lights in the bathroom, but also a random outlet.

It is not uncommon for the power supplies to bathrooms (and other rooms with water connections) to be on a separate circuit. This is because water can potentially cause a short circuit, resulting in the breaker opening, and separate circuits minimize the impact and makes the problem easier to locate. These are called "GFCI" or "GFI" (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter [1]) circuits.

It is a standard to connect a bathroom outlet with another outlet also requiring a GFCI, such as basement or outdoors. Another option is that an electrician (or homeowner), having initially reserved an output from the box for such a limited use, may – while adding wiring – chooses to wire seemingly unrelated things into the same circuit. This may make sense (for example, an outlet near a non-bathroom sink or some other water source could reasonably be grouped with the bathroom), or it may simply be out of convenience from how long the wires needed to run (such as an outlet in the room adjacent to the bathroom). In either case, future residents and installers may not be informed of this, and therefore wouldn't realize that the outlet is grouped with that circuit.

Standard or 'kludged'
North-facing appliances Peculiar and a bit complex to execute. Here's how it might have been set up:
  1. Install a breaker switch that is actually a mechanical switch to control a smart home automation instead of its normal function
  2. Replace relevant normal outlets with Wi-Fi-controlled smart outlets
  3. Use smart home software to create a custom group of all outlets that control all north-facing appliances
  4. Set up a software automation to selectively toggle this user-defined group of smart outlets when triggered.
  • Adding a matching appliance to the house would require editing the automation.

Alternative explanations:

  • The switch may be physically wired only to outlets installed on a southern wall in the property (or all southern walls, for each room that requires them), and you'd ensure that everything connected to these exclusively north-facing outlets also faces directly away from the wall(s).
  • The switch could control appliances on the north-facing walls of the house.

Note: "North-facing" has broad interpretation, as lax as northeast to northwest or as strict as north by east to north by west. It could also be as exact as perfect north, but this would render this breaker completely functionless unless an appliance happens to be ever-so-perfectly aligned.

Bathtub drain light Bathtub drains typically do not have lights, but this breaker provides power to that and only that. Why it isn't already considered a "bathroom light" is unexplained (unless it's for the bit of the pipe that is external to that room). Perhaps it is a sub-menu of bathroom breaker, but then its position on the panel is unusual in that it isn't next to the bathroom breaker.

It obviously cannot be the "surprise mystery outlet" already referred to earlier as being covered under the switch for the bathroom lights, much apart from it not being a socket/outlet.

Appliances whose names contain the letter "F" Another odd and amusing specification.

To make it work, one might use the "North-facing appliances" setup described above, but just with a different custom group of Wi-Fi-controlled smart outlets chosen to only control appliances with an "F' in their name.

Some common household appliances (kitchen and elsewhere) that this switch might control:

  • coffee maker
  • refrigerator
  • freezer
  • fan
  • air fryer
  • food processor
  • waffle iron
  • fabric steamer
  • fireplace (electric)
Hot water heater Usually just a heater that creates (and typically stores) hot water. But given that the next breaker controls the "Regular water heater", this breaker might actually control a water heater that pointlessly heats water that is already hot.

This is probably a joke about the fact that the common phrase "hot water heater" is technically redundant or misleading:

  • Redundant because the simpler term "water heater" is enough to describe a device that produces hot water.
  • Misleading because it's not the purpose of residential water heaters to heat water that is already hot.

Trivia: In some languages, "hot water" is a separate, single word, so "hot-water heater" can be accurate. One such example is Japanese, where "hot water" is simply referred to as "お湯" ("Oyu"), however this is taken a step further as "hot water heater" is referred to as "給湯器" ("Kyūtōki").

Two "heaters"
Regular water heater The heater for regular water. In context with the switch above, this label presumes it's for a heater for heating water that is not yet hot (usually called a "hot water heater", hence the joke). Alternatively, if we assume that a hot water heater is for making hot water, this heater must be for making “regular water”, whatever temperature that may mean. Further still, the difference in these labels may be speaking to the nature of the heaters themselves - it could be the case that one of the heaters is abnormally hot to the touch, where the other is a "regular" temperature, but are otherwise both capable of heating water just fine.
Outlets in rooms that it's normal to eat pizza in This controls every outlet in rooms that it's normal to eat pizza in, such as the dining room and kitchen and – depending on the "normal" habits of the inhabitants – other rooms such as the bedroom, bathroom, or living room (if not already covered by the "living room lights" switch above). Closets and single-purpose rooms such as the laundry room are presumably not included.
High-pitched hum generator Controls a high-pitched hum generator. This is a call-back to 1590: The Source, which was released just over 8 years before this comic.
The solution to the cryptogram below: Likely a pun on a "code breaker," something or someone that solves a code, such as Randall's cryptogram, a type of puzzle where a sentence has been encoded using a cipher, usually simple, and the goal is to determine the cipher and recover the original sentence from the encoded one. Randall has not actually written a cryptogram, simply making the label's text illegible to the audience.

2 other explanations:

  • The identity of the electrical load sourced from this breaker can be found by solving the cryptogram.
  • This switch enables or disables the code's solution somehow, perhaps toggling its knowability or solvability or turning on a computer for solving cryptograms.
Bugs Several interpretations are possible:
  • Disable all software bugs in the house*
  • Disable all insect bugs in the house – as an efficient form of pest control – perhaps using ultrasonic emitters that drive away bugs (may be a reference to 2753: Air Handler) – or perhaps the house contains noise machines that play sounds of insects or other ways of simulating insects.
  • Disable power to all covert listening devices, which would be able to be switched off if wired into the house's electrical grid.
  • Disable the whole global category of bugs (insects, arachnids, and other small arthropods), in which case we'd have no more pests and we'd reduce disease like malaria and Lyme disease! Of course, food webs would also collapse, and our world would be overrun with waste.
  • All of the above

*Though it's unlikely that it's what Randall is referring to, computer bugs switches actually exist. It's a feature in some video game emulators to either run an unofficial patched version or to stay true to the original system, for example to allow bug-exploit speedruns of a video game.

Right column of switches
A whirring fan you didn't realize was on until now Fans generally produce a steady, low-level 'white' noise that people generally stop noticing. When such a fan is turned off, the absence of that noise is quickly noticed. Alternatively, the fan could be somewhere that cannot be heard, with the label on the switch serving as the only reminder of the fan's existence.

Shutting down a fan that you didn't realize was running could be worrisome for a couple of reasons: it could be serving an important function (like HVAC or server cooling) and cause a problem when it's off, or it may be a fan that wasn't supposed to be running, but had been for some time without being noticed.

Dishwasher A dishwasher may find itself with a separate circuit breaker for a few reasons. Commercial-grade dishwashers are often high-load appliances that require more power (incorporating powerful heating units and pumps). Residential-grade dishwashers may not be as energy-intensive, but if the house wasn't originally built with a dishwasher in mind, it is likely new wiring had to be added during its installation, resulting in a breaker that exclusively controls the dishwasher.

Though what "dishwasher" actually means may depend on what the "dishes" of the next switch might be, and thus what additional device may be required to ensure they remain clean. Even at the more trivial end of the interpretation (though not then explaining the following "dishes"), a busy restaurant might have an employee section equipped exclusively for the dishwashing role and separately supplied with power in a similar manner to that suggested for the bathroom.

Dishes Likely a pun on "breaking" dishes.

Of course, dinnerware and dishes are usually not powered devices and wouldn't require a circuit breaker at all; discovering they need their own circuit breaker separate from their dishwasher is a spoof of many common circuit breaker frustrations. Lastly it's also possible the switch powers/controls two or more satellite dishes.

Hallway lights The lights in the hallway or hallways. "Hallway" regions
Hallway outlets The outlets in the hallway or hallways, presumably the same as the "Hallway lights" hallways. A common confusion when turning off breakers is separate wiring for outlets and lights in the same room. Though having the room go dark is a good mnemonic that it is unpowered, it is not a guarantee, and indeed, wiring them separately allows working on the outlets without having to do it in the dark.
Hallway floors Yet another breaker for the hallways, presumably the same hallways as the previous two breakers, adding more confusion and frustration. This breaker has several potential interpretations:
  1. A master switch for all floors (stories) in the building which include hallways, e.g. the guestroom areas in a hotel, whilst possibly excluding the lobby and service levels
  2. Outlets in the floor
  3. Electric underfloor heating (heated bathroom floors are a feature in some houses)
  4. Electrification of the floors – not common outside of horror and heist movies
  5. Disabling all floors entirely, so everything resting on the floors falls through
Social media This breaker also has several potential interpretations of "taking a social media break" or "turning off social media":
  1. 'Digital detoxes', where someone says "I'm going to take a social media break" and intends to deny themselves access to all their social media apps.
  2. A switch for a parent to turn off all social media entering the house to protect their kids and themselves, which references a type of specialized content filter available through Wi-Fi router settings, not traditionally a breaker box.
  3. A callback to 908: The Cloud. Since most social media platforms are centralized services, it would be theoretically possible to hook up a switch to the main power supply of every server building at once, given some extremely long wires, a breaker capable of handling the abhorrently massive electric load, and agreement from every social media provider.(optional)
  4. The theoretical desire by some to "turn off social media" for the world due to its harmful effects on society. As someone who lived before social media and saw its spread over two decades, Randall may be ruing the impacts of social media on civilization and channeling his desire to put the genie back in the bottle.
  5. Potentially a play on the phrase “breaking the internet”, meaning going viral on social media, though "breaking social media" is not an idiom.
State law This and the next two items are a pun on "breaking the law."

Taken literally, it would either disable enforcement of State Law or nullify every single one, creating a state of lawlessness similar to the premise of the popular movie, "The Purge". It's unclear if this refers to Randall's state of Massachusetts or State Law as a general concept.

If the switch just nullifies State Law within the confines of the house, that would make the home a place where State Law could be broken without consequence.

"Legal" items
Federal law An extension of the previous entry. When discussing legal matters (taxes, regulations, etc.) it's not uncommon for state and federal authorities to issue their own statutes, often labeled "state" and "federal" respectively.

The ramifications of nullifying every US Federal law are immense. Disabling Federal Law while keeping State Law would theoretically fulfill the goals of the "States Rights" advocates, groups of conservatives across US history aiming to return Federal power to the States.

Second law of thermodynamics The second law of thermodynamics means that things naturally move from order to disorder over time. It also says you can't take heat from a place that's cooler and use it to make a place hotter than the cooler place, unless you use some energy to do it. In short, without adding energy, only the hotter place can warm up the cooler one.

This law of physics was also explored in the What If? article Fire From Moonlight.

"Physics" items
Friction Friction is the resistive force that opposes the relative motion or tendency of such motion of two surfaces in contact. Disabling friction would mean that all objects slide forever, and would destroy several things as well as make it much more difficult to move around and create energy. Being in a frictionless environment (and a vacuum, as physicists love...) was the subject of 669: Experiment.
Gravity Gravity is a natural force that attracts two bodies toward each other, proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. Turning gravity off would have extremely dangerous effects, such as the loss of the atmosphere into space, all items being flung away from the Earth, and, perhaps most dangerous, the complete destruction of the planet.

Of course, if this switch is turned off, it may simply mean that objects within the house itself are no longer subject to gravity. This would be far less cataclysmic, and as a bonus, this would make it very different when moving around the house, making it easier to get to higher areas, and move objects, though impossible to place them without some other force being applied, and could prove to cause some problems once the breaker is turned back on, especially for things under said objects.

Circuit breakers Possibly the "master" breaker, controlling the main circuit that supplies power to all other circuit breakers. However, given the other surreal things this breaker box controls, turning it off may possibly make it impossible to turn it on ever again as the switch will no longer function once switched off (i.e.: If this was turned off, it would presumably turn off the functionality of the circuit breaker itself, if it was wired to include itself). Another interpretation is that turning off this breaker should supposedly make this breaker not able to control the power, which leads to a situation similar to the liar's paradox.

Moreover, if this circuit breaker disables all circuit breakers everywhere, it would result in global infrastructure collapse, halting essential services, including transportation, healthcare, and communication, and leading to widespread chaos.

Note that it might be a perfectly valid label if it refers to multiple subsidiary 'boxes', cascaded off this particular one, each containing one or more additional breakers for convenience or safety. e.g. units dedicated to a shed, garage or workshop room which save the need to traipse all the way to this box's utility cupboard location in the event of an otherwise easily resolved power issue.

Title text
The title text is about causality (not to be confused with casualty), and how to use this (unseen, located elsewhere) breaker along with the last shown switch that (de)powers the illustrated box.

Causality, in its simplest form, is the process of cause and effect, meaning that everything that happens only happens because something caused it to happen - in other words, every event is an effect caused by another event. For example, a bag of chips can't just fall onto the floor for literally no reason - it has to be caused by some other event, such as someone smacking it or a gust of wind blowing it down.

Turning off the circuit breaker using the CIRCUIT BREAKERS switch may lead to a loop, if the disabled breaker can no longer disable itself, leading to it turning back on, etc. Alternatively, turning off the CIRCUIT BREAKER switch might be a one-way street.

Turning the CAUSALITY switch from OFF back to ON might be unlikely to do anything if the circuit breakers upstream of it have been fully deactivated. The separation of cause and effect would ostensibly take precedence over the current switch setting. Turning off CAUSALITY first would prevent either the loop or the permanent disabling of circuit breakers, but would also have many other side effects, including letting switches potentially serve power even if there is no power being served to them, or even spontaneously switching (on or off) without any intervention or reason.

The 'warning', from an electrician, could even be to locate the nominally off CAUSALITY switch in order to turn it on, or else all other intended effects will possibly not end up being actually actioned. Either way, whether or not turning on/off causality would change the state of causality (at one stage or other being rendered ineffectual) is an exercise left for the reader.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[An open breaker box is shown. There are 26 labelled breakers, all of which are on, paired back to back in thirteen rows as a label, switch, switch and label.]
Kitchen lights / A whirring fan you didn't realize was on until now
Living room lights / Dishwasher
Porch lights / Dishes
Bathroom lights and one surprise mystery outlet somewhere / Hallway lights
North-facing appliances / Hallway outlets
Bathtub drain light / Hallway floors
Appliances whose names contain the letter "F" / Social media
Hot water heater / State law
Regular water heater / Federal law
Outlets in rooms that it's normal to eat pizza in / Second law of thermodynamics
High-pitched hum generator / Friction
The solution to the cryptogram below: [Additional squiggled words that are too small/indistinct to read.] / Gravity
Bugs / Circuit breakers

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added transcript and got to change the name of the thing that created the explanation incomplete tag WOHOOOOoO Me[citation needed] 02:25, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

can't help but notice the 1590 reference someone, i guess(talk i guess|le edit list) 02:43, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Added explanation! Simple, but it'll do. How do I sign? 03:42, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

four tildes (~~~~) someone, i guess(talk i guess|le edit list) 03:08, 31 October 2023 (UTC)
Thanks. I thought that I had tried it earlier and it hadn't worked, but I guess I was wrong. 03:46, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Just added headers, but not good enough with this stuff to add descriptions. go nuts someone, i guess(talk i guess|le edit list) 02:52, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Got a good laugh out of this one. Does anyone have a guess as to whether the "bugs" at the bottom of the second column refers to computer bugs or insects? Also, some self-referential humor going on at the end there. I guess the breaker box which contains all breakers would indeed contain itself. Jrfarah (talk) 04:31, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

I thought it was some sort of reference to 2753 someone, i guess(talk i guess|le edit list) 04:58, 31 October 2023 (UTC)
It turns off the bunny. 11:27, 31 October 2023 (UTC)
Computer bugs switches actually exist. It's a feature in some emulators to either run an unofficial patched version or to stay true to the original system, for example to allow bug-exploit speedruns. Shirluban 13:34, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

So... discussion about "Hot Water Heater" vs. "Regular Water Heater"... I was assuming this was a joke regarding the redundancy of the term "Hot Water Heater" since "Water Heater" is already making the water hot, so why would you need to heat water that's already hot? Similar to RAS Syndrome, I thought Randall was making fun of that, but the explanation has a different idea... which... kind of makes sense? But... I've never seen anything like what is being described. Admiral Memo (talk) 05:22, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

After reading "Regular Water Heater", I assumed it was implying that the "Hot Water Heater" was somehow more physically attractive and thus "hotter". --Galeindfal (talk) 14:41, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Regarding the "one surprise mystery outlet", I don't think it's necessary to assume it was wired that way by mistake. When extending the wiring in an existing house, it's not always easy to wire up an extra breaker, or use the most logically labelled one, and there may not be a compelling safety reason to do so. For instance, in my parents house, the original sockets are all wired from the floor, and when an extra one was needed for a boiler control, it was easier to run a conduit down from the floor above; so that particular socket is on the ring marked "Upstairs Sockets" on the consumer unit. - IMSoP (talk) 09:18, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

I read the "state/federal law" switches as required by said laws. i.e. respective building codes require a "foo switch" always to be installed, whether or not a foo is required, reasonable or even practicable. The switches may be left unlinked to anything that is serviced, or run to the household outlet/power-switch with the label plastered over it saying "don't use for anything but the quarter-inch hoojamaflip grinder" (or whatever it is, in the same sort of manner as "Refrigerator, do not unplug/turn off!" in a communal kitchen.... 10:09, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Some laws contain "circuit breaker" provisions, where some action is triggered when a condition reaches a threshold. Maybe that's what state/federal law refers to. Barmar (talk) 14:25, 31 October 2023 (UTC)
You guys are way too serious. It's a joke, so pick the funniest interpretation possible. Don't try to make it realistic. A circuit breaker turns off the electricity so you can work on the wiring without getting shocked. By analogy, you should be able to use a circuit breaker to turn off the laws when you want to avoid getting fined or arrested. Now that's funny. Rtanenbaum (talk) 12:43, 1 November 2023 (UTC)

...in a separate comment, I have a fuse/switch labelled "Do not turn on!" in my house. It was turned on when I moved in, and (barring actually any reason to mess with anything/’get a man in' for any other purpose) I've left it on. Ditto, for these last six or seven years I've remained ignorant of the purpose of various wall switches (floor-height, one in living room, one at top of stairs, another in a bedroom) that are unlabelled and off (though I have switched them on... no obvious difference to lighting, alarm system, any other system I can imagine they're wired up into and left it pending some future time when I actually have to do something like strip plaster back and discover which (if any?) run of cable leads from/to them. 10:11, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Regarding wall switches that don't have any apparent purpose. Many houses or apartments were not built with lights in the ceiling. So all your lighting came from lamps plugged into wall outlets. They would wire one of the wall outlets to a wall switch, usually near the door. This way you would leave the lamp turned on and use the wall switch to turn it off and on. It takes a little investigation to figure out which wall outlet is being controlled by the switch. Rtanenbaum (talk) 12:43, 1 November 2023 (UTC)
Not applicable, in my case (above 'owner' of the floor switches) because all my sockets(/outlets) in my house have switches on them. One of the mysterious floor switches is indeed very close to a wall-socket, but that wall-socket is a double already with two independent switches (example image). And is of a very similar vintage to the 'mystery switch', by both actual appearance and the how the wallpaper/etc looks. (The house itself is 1930s vintage, but clearly fully updated and rewired to essentially modern standards some time in the last 50 years, and probably far far more recent. No reason for a 'leftover' separate socket switch to have remained/been kept instated.)
The two main possibilities of purpose that I still imagine they controlled are: 1) The burglar alarm, and 2) The storage heater. Originally. Assuming you'd even want multiple different control-switches. But completely bypassed by a later reinstallation. The newer central heating (replacing the storage system) is entirely controlled from a kitchen wall switch, and its own fusebox breaker. And the alarm system has a hallway pad and if it was ever connected to the "Do not turn on" switch (that was actually on), it hasn't suffered at all from the experimental instances of it being turned off (when I thought I'd check).
...it'll all have to wait until I have the next major overhaul, I think. I'll get the next electrician I need (perhaps when replacing the current boiler, or needing more sockets in the workroom) to try and work it out using their usual tricks and tools. 15:29, 1 November 2023 (UTC)
LoadingReadyRun did a very funny sketch on a "mystery switch" in their office. [2] Admiral Memo (talk) 03:14, 11 November 2023 (UTC)
In my last house, there was a switch that we couldn't figure out for anything. Finally, we asked the previous owner: they had damaged the wall there during construction, and it was cheaper to put in a dummy switch than to repair the hole! L-Space Traveler (talk) 15:06, 3 December 2023 (UTC)

I believe that the cryptogram may be an attempt to pun on a "code breaker" as a reference to people who solve ciphers. Aberdasher (talk) 13:48, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Depending on interpretation, "North-facing appliances" could make sense. In my house, I have two main breakers, East and West, each covering (almost) everything in one side of the house. EHusmark (talk) 14:52, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

And, contrary to the "how would the system know?", regarding north-facingness, if you had a ring-main/set of sockets servicing one particular wall (to just one side), there'd be a good chance that anything plugged in there (at least bulky "white goods", even if not smaller things that you might move and turn, like irons and fans) faces away from that particular wall. 16:54, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Definite Borges vibes from the "appliances that face north", "appliances whose names begin with the letter 'F'", "outlets in rooms that it's normal to eat pizza in" section. 17:31, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Amongst other things, there are problems under the "no friction" section. e.g. You might have a perpetual motion machine that would go forever, but without something else (e.g. the anullment of 3LoT) it couldn't also do external work. And of course you can still hold something with zero friction, if you can sufficiently surround, support and/or impale the thing. 19:24, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

I agree. Edited. --Hddqsb (talk) 05:01, 1 November 2023 (UTC)

So.... em if you turn off causality, would the switch that turned off causality actually reliably turn off causality, given that causality has been disabled? (added something like this as a note about the title text). (Wowitschris (talk) 19:32, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Worse than that, if you need to have Causality turned off (for a 'legitimate' reason), there is now no way of preventing anything (including the Causality switch) to be actively toggled. Causaulity could become active again even without any intervention, as well as any number of other effects (of any spontaneous kind whatsoever) for which no cause is now required. 19:53, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

"A circuit breaker ...to... protect appliances." --- A pedant would say the breaker protects the wires. When the box is specced and installed, the appliances may not have arrived, and are sure subject to replacement. In both the US and GB Codes the breaker size relates to the wire diameter. If an appliance needs greater protection it should have its own fuse/breaker. Some do, though the trend is to appliances which will fail without flame, smoke, or loud noise.

It's a chicken-and-egg. If you've got a high-current device to install (e.g. electric cooker) then you'll ...hopefully... make sure it has thick copper cables to its outlet, and also sit it behind a fuse/breaker that will take the power throughput. But you still want your breaker to 'break' if something shortcircuity goes on in the cooker. Even/especially if the supply cables are happily feeding the power to it, or its own local fusepoint, because they're not so tightly toleranced that you end up with a long 'heating element' passing through the kitchen wall as well as on your cooker's hobtop (or in its grill/oven compartment(s)).
Overspec the wires, try to tightly spec the current limits on the switches as much as you can anticipate will not ever false-trip. (With the switch from incandescent to LED lighting, many a lighting circuit will now be much further from failure, than designed, but actual ground-faulting will still likely trigger the RCD/whatever.) The aim is to never get so far as a breaking more circuitry than an intrinsic fault has already broken. e.g. motors may burn out, if something jams them, but ideally not spark across to the casing that houses them if they don't suffer direct physical damage. 21:29, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

"Bathtub drain light" My bathtub drain is plastic pipe. If the lights are off in the bathroom, but on in the cellar, there's a "light in the drain". No, I don't have a dedicated breaker but that's an idea.....

"Hallway floors" My last house was 1830, so all the electrics were hacked-on. We had a floor outlet in the hall. This used to be more common above a wireable cellar, it avoided snaking the wall. PRR (talk) 20:14, 31 October 2023 (UTC)

Floor outlets are pretty common in large rooms. I mean rooms larger than you'd find a house, say a large classroom. They're used for things like floor polishers or vacuum cleaners, that need to be plugged in near the middle of the space, because the walls are too far away. Also, meeting rooms often have floor jacks under the central table, so people can plug in laptops. Nitpicking (talk) 15:12, 1 November 2023 (UTC)

Wait, what's the joke? I'm pretty sure my (multiple?) circuit boxes are wired exactly like this. (talk) 17:50, 1 November 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Would a Fujitsu laptop be turned off by "F" in the name. Sure its a laptop (no f), but perhaps the brand makes its name change. What about if it has an "f" in one language but not another. (talk) 14:03, 2 November 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It would depend entirely upon the language/terminology used by the switch-switcher. (Though not what the switch-switcher wants to be the case, e.g. "on this occasion, the 'fridge' is just a 'cooler', but the 'ventillation' is the 'fans'..." 'Cos that'd be silly!) 14:31, 2 November 2023 (UTC)

One minor issue: Sound doesn't depend on the friction in air. (minor nerdage alert) The inviscid Euler equations can totally support pressure (acoustic) waves. In fact, without viscosity, they'll damp out somewhat slower, so sound would travel slightly further! 00:33, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

I feel like “one niner” and “bad” were overlooked. 22:18, 12 November 2023 (UTC)