Color Code Your Outlets To Eliminate Fuse Blowing Frustrations

For years I've dealt with the frustration of running every power tool (& the lights) in my shop off of a single 15A outlet on a circuit shared with the hall in the house. This has meant that I faced constant mid-cut circuit popping. Because I do most work in the shop at night, I've also had to learn to find my circuit breaker by feel when the lights go out.

My sorry old original 15A outlet.
Thankfully the new 110V electric for the shop has just been finished. There are now three (3) 20A circuits dedicated to the shop alone. This has meant fewer extension cords, much less unplugging & re-plugging, the ability to use multiple tools at once (table saw, shop vac, air filter & lights!) and most importantly - no blown fuses. 


I chose to install 20A circuits in the garage so that it would be near impossible to blow a fuse with a single tool. However, running multiple tools (such as my planer & dust collector) simultaneously on the same circuit could still exceed 20A. In order to avoid this, I used a two (2) step process.

First, I wired the shop so that the three (3) circuits were each equally distributed around the shop (or at least the wall I wired so far). While its not quite an A, B, C, A, B, C, A, B, C . . . pattern, it is close. From anywere on the wall at least two (and often all 3) circuits are easily reachable.

Outlets. So many outlets.
The second thing I did to avoid overloading any single circuit was to color code the outlet covers. I left one (1) circuit white and used the Rust-Oleum spray paint for plastic to paint the outlet cover plates for the second circuit blue and for the third, green. I don't expect the paint to look pristine for long, but as long as there's some trace of color, I should be OK. I had initially intended to buy outlets in multiple colors, but buying so many 20A outlets in non-standard colors proved prohibitively expensive. I think I've managed to achieve the same effect for much less with spray paint.



White, Green & Blue. One color per circuit.
Because the outlets are all color coded, I can now easily avoid over using the same outlet. I simply plug the second tool into a different colored outlet.

It's now super easy to tell which circuit I'm plugged into.
I've not yet been able to build a full project with the new electric, though I have milled up a piece of 8/4 oak with no blown fuses. Running off my old, single 15A outlet, this would have been an exercise in frustration.