Filed under: Cable Management, Cables and Wires, Uncategorized
If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered why we pack our electrical material in these tube-shaped conduits we refer to as “cables”. You’re probably not like me though, because that’s kind of a weird thing to wonder. But seriously, when you think about it, why a tube? It’s actually pretty cumbersome, and it doesn’t look all that great either. It’s not particularly easy to hide, and takes up a fair bit of physical space. But what if…there was another way?
ENTER FLAT WIRE AND TAPERWIRE
Flat cables are totally a thing you can buy right now! Instead of bundling the copper wire into a braid and running it through a tube, flat cables runs foil thin copper wire that’s essentially, well, flat. Think of them as that unpopular, socially awkward kid at the school dance who just blends into the wall (or as I like to call him, “me”). They can conform to just about any level surface, and can be bent to wrap around corners without damaging them or affecting performance at all. Right now, two different companies market flat cables: Taperwire and Flatwire. CableOrganizer currently offers both brands.
So, what can these flat cables be used for? Glad you asked. Well, I’m assuming you asked, and it makes me glad to think you did. There are currently a ton of different flat cables available for your wiring needs, including audio, video, HDMI, data, and low-voltage lighting. It’s great for home or office, and can really streamline a home theater system that’s overgrown with a bunch of cable vines. That thing looks like the ruins of an ancient castle. Bring it into the 21st century with some flat cables and impress all your friends. It’s also compatible with existing round wire, if you absolutely have to involve some of those wormy things in your set up.
Flat cables are not only pretty much flush with any level surface, but they’re also adhesive, which means they can easily be installed on whatever flat surface you like by just peeling and pressing. As I said before, it can be bent to suit your needs; no corner is too corner-y. Once it’s set in place, all you need to do is paint over it, and the cable becomes virtually indistinguishable from the surface itself! Far less noticeable than that bug that you accidentally painted over the last time you gave your wall a fresh coat. I can still see him there, like a little six-legged Han Solo frozen in Sherwin Williams Carbonite.
ELIMINATES TRIP HAZARDS
Beyond looking totally ugly on your wall, standard cables are also super annoying when they have to travel across the ground, because inevitably someone’s gonna come walking by, texting on their smartphone or whatever, and stumble right over your painfully three-dimensional cable. Then woops: broken phone, broken nose, and lawsuits a-plenty.
In this day and age you really can’t assume anyone is looking where they’re going, and don’t think signs are going to help; nobody reads those. Why, I myself just recently walked into one of those big metal cables they use to brace telephone poles…you know, the ones with the…well look, it’s not really important. And it wasn’t me, it was some other, less cool guy. Anyway, the whole trip hazard debacle is easily eliminated by installing some awesome flat cables on your floors, which are nigh untrippable thanks to their ultra-thin nature and adhesive backing. They can even be run under carpeting, if you’re one of those cutting edge folks who still has a bunch of carpeting everywhere. How are those stains working out for you?
TRIED AND TRUE
I’ve only recently discovered the existence of flat cables, but it turns out things can exist without me knowing about them. In fact, flat cables have been around for a good long while. Taperwire was developed in 1987 by Ron Fuller, and has been available in one form or another since 1991. Flatwire, meanwhile, was conceived by Robb Sexton in 1986, patented in 1995, and has been on the market since 2004. What I’m saying is, it’s not some fly-by-night fad, it’s the real deal. Seriously, I’m sitting here scratching my head wondering why we even have round cables anymore. I mean I suppose that was fine for Cavemen to power their stone television sets or woolly mammoth vacuum cleaners (The Flintstones is historically accurate, right?), but here and now we should really be past such prehistoric limitations, don’t you think?
Well…perhaps we still have a ways to go. Do you remember when I mentioned “low voltage” lighting up there? Go check if you don’t, or just take my word for it. That qualifier is important, as high voltage flat cables aren’t in existence just yet. HDMI flat cables are also pretty new, with Taperwire’s being a fairly recent release, and Flatwire’s version not being available at this time. Also, the highest CAT cable available is Taperwire’s Cat5e, with Flatwire’s Cat6 currently just as imaginary as their HDMI. (For more info on CAT cables, check out this article).
They’re also not cheap. Though they’re quite convenient, it comes at a price, literally. On the other hand, think how much you’ll save on all the additional items you’d have to buy to hide and trip-proof all your unsightly round cables? With that in mind, the price becomes a bit easier to stomach. It’s certainly cheaper than a lawsuit should anyone in your office trip over a wayward wire bundle, and the aesthetic benefit to your home entertainment set-up is hard to ignore. Plus, it’s not like you can just make your own…
Everyone knows what a wall plate is. You see them everyday, but you probably don’t give them a second thought. Maybe you should reconsider those dull rectangles, though (and start by reading my article on when to replace them), since there are actually many different types of wall plates available beyond the standard electrical outlet you’re used to seeing.
They look sad…and kinda surprised.
Here are just some of the types of electrical based wall plates available for different applications.
A Few Types of Wall Plates and Their Uses
Keystone wall plates: This type of plate features anywhere from 1 to 6 small holes for keystone modules, which can be applied to a number of different multimedia applications. A “keystone module”, for those who might be unaware, is a small snap-in package featuring a connection port for any number of purposes, including audio, video, data, networking and more. Like most types of outlet plates, these come in multiple different color types to help match in with the surrounding décor or whatever mood you’re in on any given day (black if you’re feeling emo, gray if you’re feeling boring, etc.).
I like my outlet plates black…like my soul.
A/V wall plates: These are specially designed plates which are perfect for use with corresponding inserts to meet your audio and visual needs. They are ideal for home theater setups or entertainment systems. Personally, I’d say the coolest one is this Recessed Media Box with a self-healing face. It eliminates visible holes and allows you to run multiple cables through a single opening. I wish I had a self-healing face. I’d charge people to punch me square in the nose. People get to let out their aggression, and I get a little pocket money without the staggering hospital bills. It’s a win-win.
Telephone wall plates: These guys are designed to provide an easy connection for telephones. For the under thirty set who are undoubtedly scratching their heads right now, a “phone” used to be something that actually needed to plug into the wall, not just a little computer box that fits in your pocket. These wall-plates generally feature a single port, although multiple connections can be used. They are white in color, and are great for providing an easy installation of a phone system within businesses or homes (for all five of you out there who still have a house land line).
Let me know when they come in black.
Gang Wall Plates: “Gang” in this scenario refers not to a group of thugs, but to gangbox, which is a term in the electrical industry that refers to a box, usually metal, that houses installed electrical components. When it comes to wall plates, a “1 gang” houses a single component, like a switch for example, while a “2 gang” houses two components side by side, and so on in that fashion. Plates that house up to six gangs are available. These plates are designed to be installed over the top of electrical power points, or any other electrical based connection point to help create a flush appearance. They’re available in all kinds of set-ups for whatever your electrical needs might be, and you can tell that emo kid up there that they have them in several colors and styles.
Including red. That guy likes red, right?