8

votes

Has anyone experimented with turning off breakers in their homes at night?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 26, 2012 at 7:10 AM

I realize even mentioning the idea of reducing exposure to electricity might get me exiled to the woo woo ghetto. I'm not looking to discuss the health side of this, just whether people have tried it, and if they felt that it had any impact on their sleep quality.

I bring this up because I have found that I sleep better during power outages, it could just be the silence (already sleep in a dark dark room), in which case I guess it would just make more sense to wear ear plugs instead of powering everything except the fridge down, but maybe I'm sensitive to electricity itself. Curious to know others experiences with this.

Edit: I feel like I should also add, it seems like it might be more than just sound because there is a lot of snoring in this house, and that, obviously, isn't tied to electricity.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 08:05 PM

Yeah, that's why I say the silence is the key, the 60Hz hum can be annoying to some. However, if your outlets are humming, you better replace them, that means there's a short. If there's nothing plugged in, there is (supposed to be) no current and there would be no hum.

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:51 PM

Custom-built house.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:21 PM

The sample of the 60hz hum on the wikipedia page is even easier to hear http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_hum

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:14 PM

So, we can be fairly certain it isn't radiation, but what about the sound of the outlets themselves? youtube.com/watch?v=ck1IGfJiR2w

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:13 PM

So, we can be fairly certain it isn't radiation, but what about the sound of the outlets themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck1IGfJiR2w

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 11:38 AM

I think you are right about it being too much trouble to go about this for the whole house, both the TIVO and modem are quite moody and do not like disruptions to their power supplies. I was thinking of just turning off the bedroom and hallway breakers. The panel is just a few steps outside of the bedroom so there isn't the scary basement stairs dilemma others might have either.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 11:22 AM

I've just noticed that it just feels different and more restful when the power is out, and turning the breakers off at night was recommended by Dr. Carolyn Dean in one of her news letters for people who struggle with insomnia. Not trying to re-enact nothin', just trying to get quality zzz's and do a leptin reset if I can ever get to bed at a decent hour. Since it probably isn't the radiation people with the propensity to wear tinfoil hats are always going on about I'm starting to wonder if there might just be some annoying sub-auditory buzz that goes with having a wired house.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:46 AM

One more comment - next time you're in a parking lot, go measure the radio antennas you see. I bet they're all the same size (about 30 inches), that's the size of antenna that will interact with FM radio waves (AM is a different, longer story). The other thing you need to think about is field strength. A cell phone is a couple of milliwatts and it radiates in all directions, a microwave oven is a couple of kilowatts and it's focused in a tiny box. That's a difference of 1 million times! That's why a cellphone is safe and I wouldn't stick my head in a microwave oven.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:24 AM

You get the idea about being 5km tall. Radiation can interact with something when the size of the object can "see" both the high and low point of the wave at the same time. You see the colors of light that you see because those wave can interact with the molecules in your eyes. You don't see UV light or Xrays because they're too small, and you don't see radio waves because they're too big. For a wave that's 5,000kM (see edit) long, your entire body is seeing the same field at the same time. (Simple explanation - real physicists don't flame me.)

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:10 AM

That is freakin' awesome! I spent a summer sleeping in a play house that I converted to a little studio without electricity, and even having to brush dozens of spiders out of my bed every night I remember sleeping better than anytime before or since.

78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1035)

on January 27, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Great question! But then, I live in the woo woo ghetto, you all are free to join me *when you are ready*. I'm planning to build an electricity-free house in the near future (and a studio w/ power elsewhere on the property).

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 01:31 AM

I've heard of people grouping things into power strips and unplugging those at night to conserve energy. Perhaps that would help with this too. So if someone were 5km and 1cm tall, would they have to worry?

Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

(3125)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:53 AM

thats an intersting room set up you have there. i wonder how that came to be?

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:15 AM

See my post below, any supposed radiation is going to have a wavelength of 3 miles long, that basically means that as long as you're within 3 miles (give or take a bit) of any power, it's all the same, i.e. all distances less than 3 miles are equivalent with regards to interaction with the radiation, as you'll be in the near field limit.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 26, 2012
at 07:48 PM

Ah man, I didn't even think about outside. We have a transformer right out in front of the house on a pole, and some high tension power lines about a block away (when it rains they make some spooky sounds).

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 26, 2012
at 07:45 PM

I love the idea of wiring all the outlets in the room to a light switch. We just upgraded our electric panel because it was failing and woefully underpowered for what we ask it to do everyday. I would hate to accelerate its aging process. We also have a main breaker now, which we didn't before, but that would turn off the fridge too. We are planning on doing some rewiring at some point because whoever wired this place may have been suffering from brain damage, big appliances and heat from opposite sides of the house are are wired together, and other circuits have nothing attached to them.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on January 26, 2012
at 06:04 PM

Upvote for using "Woo-Woo Ghetto"

C2ad96801ec1e22d2bf62475b6e52751

(1416)

on January 26, 2012
at 04:02 PM

This question made me laugh out loud. Heh. You guys.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:02 PM

I cannot stress how much I love this idea.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 26, 2012
at 08:10 AM

Good point. Luckily, all of ours are battery operated, so we are good on that front.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 26, 2012
at 08:01 AM

If you do this, please be aware of your fire alarms. Most are battery, but some are hard wired to your electrical system with battery backup. Check to make sure they'll function either way. Otherwise sounds awesome...I love the humless-ness of power failures. :)

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10 Answers

best answer

3
F3583667d653163c121640a015ffa93a

(784)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:44 PM

When I went to Cornell the dormitory I was in as a freshman (Dickson Hall, for you Cornellians out there) had a "light switch" right by the door of the room that was not a light switch, but a switch that controlled all of the outlets in the room. So when that was off there was no electricity in the room.

You could probably wire the bedrooms in your house this way if you wanted to go to the trouble to do it. In the addition I put on this house ten years ago I have a lot of switched outlets that makes it easy to cut off the power without digging behind furniture to unplug things.

As an aside, we are currently putting my uncle's farm on the market, and the house there was built in 1900 by my great grandfather. My great aunt had the house wired for electricity in the 1930's and in the upstairs bedooms there is only a ceiling light in each room. A hanging light. If you want to plug anything in in those bedrooms, you have to screw in an adapter in the light socket that has a plug in on it. No one had need for anything in a bedroom in the 1930's except a ceiling light. The downstairs rooms have very few outlets as well.

I was born in 1957 and thinking back, the amount of stuff that we had plugged in in the house was very small. There was an electric kitchen light, if the toaster was used it was plugged in, or a portable mixer, there was ceiling lights in the kitchen and floor lamps in the living room, the kitchen radio (radio was still pretty important) and later on a black and white TV. That's just the way we lived then.

If you pull the breaker to your whole house, you need to realize that the larger breakers that control your entire house are expensive and can fail if you use them as switches a lot. An electrician told me don't turn the big ones on and off more than you need to just because of this.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 26, 2012
at 07:45 PM

I love the idea of wiring all the outlets in the room to a light switch. We just upgraded our electric panel because it was failing and woefully underpowered for what we ask it to do everyday. I would hate to accelerate its aging process. We also have a main breaker now, which we didn't before, but that would turn off the fridge too. We are planning on doing some rewiring at some point because whoever wired this place may have been suffering from brain damage, big appliances and heat from opposite sides of the house are are wired together, and other circuits have nothing attached to them.

11
9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on January 26, 2012
at 05:23 PM

Be careful. Breakers are not meant to be used as switches. They are protective devices, and too-frequent switching could cause them to fail prematurely.

It's better to wire your room outlets to a wall switch, as another commenter recommended.

5
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:14 AM

It has to be the noise that's the issue and not the electricity. Thought experiment time: Lets say you had a house with nothing plugged into the walls, so nothing was using any electricity. There would be no current flowing in the wires no matter if the circuit breaker was on or off. Granted the POTENTIAL of the wires would be oscillating between +170V and -170V (RMS is 120V which is what is reported. But since nothing is drawing current, there is no flow or radiation or anything.

I sleep better too when there's a power outage, but I attribute that to the silence and darkness. If you want to improve your sleep, just turn everything off. Flipping the circuit breaker is overkill.

Plus, even if there was radiation of some kind, it's going to be at 60Hz which is going to be a wave that's 5,000,000m (5,000km, 3,000mi) long! That is way too big to interact with anything on the human scale, you're clearly in the near field limit with waves that big.

Edit - I originally had the wave as 5km, I wasn't thinking, it's 5,000km: 60Hz*5,000,000m = 300,000,000m/s = C = speed of light.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:13 PM

So, we can be fairly certain it isn't radiation, but what about the sound of the outlets themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck1IGfJiR2w

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 01:31 AM

I've heard of people grouping things into power strips and unplugging those at night to conserve energy. Perhaps that would help with this too. So if someone were 5km and 1cm tall, would they have to worry?

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:46 AM

One more comment - next time you're in a parking lot, go measure the radio antennas you see. I bet they're all the same size (about 30 inches), that's the size of antenna that will interact with FM radio waves (AM is a different, longer story). The other thing you need to think about is field strength. A cell phone is a couple of milliwatts and it radiates in all directions, a microwave oven is a couple of kilowatts and it's focused in a tiny box. That's a difference of 1 million times! That's why a cellphone is safe and I wouldn't stick my head in a microwave oven.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:14 PM

So, we can be fairly certain it isn't radiation, but what about the sound of the outlets themselves? youtube.com/watch?v=ck1IGfJiR2w

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:24 AM

You get the idea about being 5km tall. Radiation can interact with something when the size of the object can "see" both the high and low point of the wave at the same time. You see the colors of light that you see because those wave can interact with the molecules in your eyes. You don't see UV light or Xrays because they're too small, and you don't see radio waves because they're too big. For a wave that's 5,000kM (see edit) long, your entire body is seeing the same field at the same time. (Simple explanation - real physicists don't flame me.)

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:21 PM

The sample of the 60hz hum on the wikipedia page is even easier to hear http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_hum

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 08:05 PM

Yeah, that's why I say the silence is the key, the 60Hz hum can be annoying to some. However, if your outlets are humming, you better replace them, that means there's a short. If there's nothing plugged in, there is (supposed to be) no current and there would be no hum.

2
05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:41 AM

i find it much easier to sleep and meditate when there's a power outage in the city. something really is going on.

2
E3267155f6962f293583fc6a0b98793e

(1085)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:33 PM

Both my husband and I have been thinking about this also. We both get the feeling that it is the electrical current from the house buzzing in our heads at night. Interesting idea to shut the power off to the house to see if that is what it is. It could also be from the high power lines outside.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:15 AM

See my post below, any supposed radiation is going to have a wavelength of 3 miles long, that basically means that as long as you're within 3 miles (give or take a bit) of any power, it's all the same, i.e. all distances less than 3 miles are equivalent with regards to interaction with the radiation, as you'll be in the near field limit.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 26, 2012
at 07:48 PM

Ah man, I didn't even think about outside. We have a transformer right out in front of the house on a pole, and some high tension power lines about a block away (when it rains they make some spooky sounds).

1
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 27, 2012
at 11:10 AM

Far too much trouble and there's too many things that I want to give power to. DVR, server, heating/cooling system, freezer, fridge, etc.

I had more problems from light coming in through the windows from street lights/neighbor's flood lights, etc. Installing blackout curtains over the blinds, and covering anything glowing with black electrical tape, and putting a couple of books in front of the alarm clocks took care of the issue.

Plus having had several multi-hour power outages almost every year, I've installed a UPS (with the alarm disabled) in almost every room and hooked it up to the alarm clock and lamp, so at least I can read a bit before sleeping. The light in the lamp is a yellow one, so it's not going to interfere with sleep - infact within 30 mins of reading, I tend to get sleepy.

Besides, it's an annoying thing to have to go into the basement and flip the breakers off at night and on in the morning.

I suspect you maybe were a bit high on the hyperbole with the subject of this post in order to get attention. :) Again, it's not a historical re-enactment.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 11:38 AM

I think you are right about it being too much trouble to go about this for the whole house, both the TIVO and modem are quite moody and do not like disruptions to their power supplies. I was thinking of just turning off the bedroom and hallway breakers. The panel is just a few steps outside of the bedroom so there isn't the scary basement stairs dilemma others might have either.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 27, 2012
at 11:22 AM

I've just noticed that it just feels different and more restful when the power is out, and turning the breakers off at night was recommended by Dr. Carolyn Dean in one of her news letters for people who struggle with insomnia. Not trying to re-enact nothin', just trying to get quality zzz's and do a leptin reset if I can ever get to bed at a decent hour. Since it probably isn't the radiation people with the propensity to wear tinfoil hats are always going on about I'm starting to wonder if there might just be some annoying sub-auditory buzz that goes with having a wired house.

1
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on January 26, 2012
at 05:32 PM

Could the sleep quality issue be because of emitted waves? I read somewhere not to sleep to close to microwaves, cell phones, and even alarm clocks because of the waves they give off when powered on. Personally I don't like the hums and sceeches either (and hear them all-too-clearly), but I found my sleep improved by staying away from such items.

1
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on January 26, 2012
at 02:21 PM

interesting idea because the wires in one house are live with AC current meaning they are pulsating with current just like the overhead wires outside the home. this scenario sets up minute magnetic field flux en-caging the home occupant. turning off the breakers would isolate the wires from these magnetic disturbances.

1
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on January 26, 2012
at 07:23 AM

It may be the buzz of transformers or air moving from your heater. Perhaps unplug all of your DC chargers?

0
7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on January 26, 2012
at 11:53 PM

My bedroom is set up with a switch that shuts off all the circuits in the room. To be honest, I really don't notice any difference with the power off, but that might be because the wiring in there is the type that's wrapped in grounded metal shielding, so there's probably not much EMF even with the power on.

Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

(3125)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:53 AM

thats an intersting room set up you have there. i wonder how that came to be?

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:51 PM

Custom-built house.

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