According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide is responsible for approximately 15,000 emergency room visists and roughly 500 deaths per year in the United States alone. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that those figures shouldn’t be so high, considering how dangerous the average person knows carbon monoxide is. But as the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Being that CO is invisible, scent-free and otherwise undetectable, many of us don’t give the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning the thought that we should. In far too many cases, it takes a tragedy to make people realize just how dangerous this “silent killer” is.
Because most carbon monoxide-related fatalities occur overnight while the victims sleep, it’s incredibly important to install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms and other sleeping areas. While early warning signs of CO poisoning include tangible effects like nausea, headache, and flu-like symptoms, people who are asleep at onset are oftentimes completely unaware of them, and continue to sleep right through the more advanced stages of carbon monoxide exposure that lead to deep unconsciousness, convulsions, and finally heart and lung failure. You can greatly reduce your risk by ensuring that you’re awakened as soon as carbon monoxide begins infiltrating your home. Similar to smoke alarms, CO detectors sense dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the air, and then sound an alarm that wakes a home’s occupants and warns them of danger well before the gas has a chance to take its toll.
It doesn’t matter if you live in a house, condo, or apartment building: all of these structures have the risk of accumulating carbon monoxide. Everything from mailfunctioning furnaces and fireplaces to gas stoves and vehicles running in garages can cause CO to build to unsafe levels. If you’re one of the lucky few who already have carbon monoxide detectors wired into key locations in your home, then you’re ready to go; as long as you’re properly maintaining the detectors, you should be well protected. But if you’ve hesitated to install a carbon monoxide alarm because of the installation factor, don’t put it off any longer. The Kidde Nighthawk Plug-In carbon monoxide detector has all the benefits of a conventional CO alarm, but plugs right into any wall outlet, so there aren’t any installation hassles: no hardwiring, no drilling holes for screws – just instant protection.
Filed under: Cable Pulling, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
It’s pretty well known among cable installers that when you’re pulling cables through long runs of conduit, friction is your biggest enemy. When cables are dragged through conduit, they not only rub together and against the conduit, they can also get caught in spots where the conduit bends. To keep things running as smoothly as possible – and to protect cables against the damaging effects of friction – cables are often sheathed in an innerduct material, like corrugated tubing. Corrugated tubing works great protection-wise, but since it’s rigid and essentially makes cables take up several times as much space as they would on their own, it can really waste conduit space. Wasted conduit space just means you need to use more conduit to get the job done, and more conduit translates into (you guessed it) more money.
So that begs the question: how do protect your cables from friction while saving valuable inner-conduit real estate? Easy. Give up rigid innerducts, and go with a soft and compact option like MaxCell Fabric Innerduct instead. These woven polyester sleeves surround cables to help them glide through twists and turns in conduit, but also conform much more closely to the cable’s shape and size, so you can fit many more cables into one conduit that you would ordinarily be able to with rigid innerduct.
MaxCell Fabric Innerduct is a soft, semi-sheer material, but it still has the ability to protect cables from moisture, petroleum products, chemicals, and UV light, and can be used in both manual/mechanical and air-blown cable pulling applications. It’s available in several versions to fit almost any environment: Standard protects against chemicals in conventional installations, Plenum and Riser Innerducts are low-smoke zero-halogen for safe use in indoor air handling spaces, and the Detectable version contains an 18 gauge copper core tracer that helps the conduit and cables be located easily in underground/buried installations.
I’ve mentioned raceway quite a few times since starting this blog, but there’s a great reason why – the stuff is incredibly versatile, and you can use it pretty much anywhere you want to hide cables. If you’ve never used, or even heard of, cable raceway, let me explain a little bit about it. It’s basically a square or rectangular-shaped channel that’s designed to conceal cable runs along walls. You could say that it’s a lot like conduit, except that most raceways have the very handy feature of a hinged lid that snaps open and closed whenever you need to add or remove wires. You typically install raceway onto your walls with double-sided adhesive (which often comes pre-applied), or, if you need a really permanent installation, you can drill holes through the back and screw it onto the wall. In most cases, though, you’d just stick with the adhesive.
While raceway is one of the easiest wire management options out there, it can present a bit of a problem storage-wise for installers who use it in bulk. Conventional cable raceways are rigid, and usually come in 5 to 6 foot lengths. That’s no problem if you only need a few pieces, but when you order it by the hundreds, shipping costs can start to add up, and the product can eat up a lot of storage space on shelves and in work vans. But Premiere Raceway Products has come up with an extremely compact solution: Raceway On-A-Roll™.
Made out of the same sturdy PVC that many raceways are built from, the main difference of Raceway On-A-Roll™ is that it’s manufactured flat, instead of being extruded into a rigid rectangular shape. Because it’s flat, Premiere’s Raceway On-A Roll™ can be rolled up, so it’s very easy to carry and takes up hardly any space. To use it, you just measure out the length you need, cut off a piece with heavy-duty scissors, stick the adhesive surface onto your wall, and fold the raceway into shape along its hinges.
Aside from being very sturdy, one of the standout features of Raceway On-A-Roll™ is that it actually latches open and closed, just like standard cable raceways do. There are other flat-pack rolled raceways on the market, but they form a permanent channel once assembled, so you don’t have the freedom to make changes. With Raceway On-A-Roll™, you change out or add wires at any time, with no hassle.
Gone are the days when home A/V setups were nothing more than a TV, a DVD player, and maybe some speakers. These days, we shell out for high-def Plasma and LCD screens, HD-DVD and Blu-ray players, gaming systems, and full SurroundSound. With the exception of speakers, just about every other element in our home theaters is connected to our TVs via HDMI cable. There isn’t trouble with HDMI cables, per se, because they deliver the best digital signals out there, but what do you do if your TV doesn’t have enough HDMI inputs to accommodate all of your home theater devices at once?
Considering that you’ve placed a pretty heavy investment into all of those fine electronics, you probably want to be able to use any device whenever you want, without the hassle of crawling behind your entertainment center to unplug your DVD player so you can free up an HDMI port for the PS3 system. Luckily, there’s a way to kiss the old device-juggling routine goodbye: just work an Xtreme Cables 4×1 HDMI Switch Box into the mix.
Built to the latest HDMI standard (HDMI 1.3), this extremely compact switch (it’s only 7″ x 3″ x 1″) packs quite a punch – it lets you connect up to four HDMI components to your HDTV using just a single cable. You just plug 4 HDMI devices into the switch, and then run the switch’s cable up to one of your high-def screen’s HDMI ports. Once that’s done, you just use the included remote control to switch back and forth between devices as often as you want. And one of the really nice features of this product is that it’s incredibly easy to install and use, even for home theater fans who aren’t completely tech-savvy. There’s no software or special programming required to get started – just plug and play.
The 4X1 HDMI Switch Box by Xtreme Cables supports resolutions that range from 480 to 1080, in both interlaced (i) and progressive scan (p) formats.
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.
Filed under: Cable Pulling, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
Cabling technicians can have quite a sticky situation on their hands when removing old cables fom conduit. Aside from obvious challenges like friction, which can make it hard to pull cable around curves or bends in the conduit, there’s the trickier problem of conduit gunk, which can build up and solidify over the years, virtually cementing cables in place. The presence of sticky substances like wax, rust, soap, bitumen and dirt inside of conduit, combined with zero maintenance, almost always guarantees that cuts will need to made in the conduit in order to free cables. But cuts in conduit usually equal steep repair and replacement costs, which do nothing but kill your budget and make the task even more frustrating.
In the interest of saving installers the hassle of conduit cutting and replacement during cable removals, American Polywater® has developed CableFree®, a liquid removal aid that dissolves conduit buildup and frees cables so that they can be easily removed. A product like this can greatly lengthen the life of conduit, because it allows you to keep the conduit completely intact instead of cutting it open. Once cables have been removed, conduit can simply be cleaned and reused, saving you repair and installation costs.
Can you ever really enjoy your iPod listening experience when you constantly feel like you’re getting tangled up in your earbud cords? No matter how many times you may bat them away, they just keep coming back to bug you, and have a way of twisting up the more you try to move them around. Plenty of MP3 player owners have little gadgets to wind up earphone cords when they’re off duty, but did you know that you can actually manage those wires while they’re in use?
Meet the Core Cord Organizer, an ultra-compact and practically weighless cable winder that is so unobtrusive, you can leave them dangling from your earbuds even when you’re rocking out to your playlist. Because it has an apple core shape (hence the name) and doesn’t need to be opened and closed to wind and unwind cables, the Core is perfect for those times when you need to frequently readjust the length of your cords – just wrap the wire around the Core until it’s the right length, then lock it in place by popping the wire’s ends into the channels on either end of the Core.
Here’s the first power tool I’ve seen in a while that’s worth a nice long Tim Allen “Tool Time” grunt. Meet the Milwaukee M12 Copper Tubing Cutter, which is about to become the indispensable sidekick of contractors and plumbers everywhere. Yes, it’s that good. If you’re wondering what makes this so hot compared to a traditional copper pipe cutter, you have to realize the time that it takes to actually manually cut pipe and conduit. It can take well over a minute just to make a single cut in copper pipe by hand, but when you bring an M12 onto the job, it’s possible to make 10 times as many cuts in the same amount of time. And you won’t have to deal with the hand and wrist fatigue that are part and parcel with manual cutters; instead, you just hang onto the M12′s handle and let its rotating cutting head do all the work.
Milwaukee’s M12 copper tubing cutter has a close-quarter rotating head, which means that it can cut through pipes even if there’s a little as 1½″ inches of clearance – an extremely helpful feature for those times when you need to get at pipes that are set very close to walls or other structures. It runs on a lithium-ion battery, which not only helps to make the unit lighter and more comfortable to use, but also gives you approximately 200 cuts per charge. Talk about getting the job done. And recharging only takes 30 minutes, so should the battery run down, you’ll be back in business in very little time.
Filed under: Electrical, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
Any electrician or network technician who’s dealt with surface raceway has probably installed a surface-mount junction box or two in their time. After all, you need outlets, right? While junction boxes themselves don’t pose a problem, if you need to use them in large quantities, they can be a hassle to store in your facility and transport to different jobsites. Outlet boxes in and of themselves are relatively inexpensive components, but when you purchase them in bulk, you can often end up paying a lot extra for shipping just because they take a lot of space. Seeing that they’re just little empty boxes, it seems pretty futile to be shelling out to house and transport packages that are largely filled with air. But thankfully, now there’s a better way.
Meet the Flat Box™, a low voltage surface-mount junction box that actually ships flat, so it takes up hardly any space. You just snap it together when you need it (a process that only takes a few seconds), and you’re ready to go. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about how sturdy a snap-together outlet box could be, but I was pleasantly shocked – once assembled, the whole thing was very solid. There’s absolutely no trade-off of convenience for stability.
The Flat Box™ also comes with pre-threaded screw holes, so you can quickly and easily install inserts and wall plates into it. And there’s also the very convenient fact that the whole thing can be painted with latex paint to match the rest of your room.
Flat Box™ also comes with scored knockouts for three different raceway sizes, as well as a single knockout for 1″ conduit – just punch out the opening you need, and leave the rest in place.
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.