Filed under: Power and Data Distribution, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
Now this is nice. I’ve always loved raceway, because it lets you run cables around a room without them being visible, and I’m also quite fond of extension cords (aren’t we all?) for the way they give you access to electricity even when you’re not near a real outlet. Given those two likes, it would stand to reason that I’d be crazy about something like a power raceway, but truth be told, I’ve always overlooked them for personal use because they’re more for business use than residential, and then there’s that tricky bit about them often needing to be hardwired.
Call me crazy, but I like things that are effective, yet still simple enough for me to install myself (whenever possible). That’s why I’m so intrigued with the Electra-Base Baseboard Raceway. It’s a baseboard-replacing wire channel that lets you drop in outlets wherever you need them, but get this – the outlets are “wired” via a special extension cord, so there’s no electrician needed.
Here’s how it works: to install Electra-Base raceways, you remove your existing baseboard, cut Electra-Base down to the exact length you need with a hand saw, and stick it into place with its pre-applied adhesive backing (the stuff it strong – you won’t need any nails or screws, so no wall damage). Once the base is in place, if you do want to add a power outlet (that’s optional), this is where you add the (also optional) 10 foot cord with plug, which is basically an extension cord that plugs into one of your wall outlets on one end, and has a 2-outlet receptacle at the other, which snaps into a bezel opening in the raceway to create a standard duplex outlet.
Finish things off with corner and joint fittings, end caps and access connectors, and you have a complete, professional looking raceway that puts power where you need it. Even with the power cord in place, you’ll still have plenty of room left in the raceway for multiple low-voltage home theater and Ethernet cords, so all you’ll see is baseboard, not decor-detracting cable clutter.
Filed under: Energy Conservation, Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
Just as the soon-to-be-winter clouds and overall December blahs have sent me into a pasty-faced state of Vitamin D withdrawal, an ironic ray of sunshine has emerged on the solar power front. Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to have some fun playing with an ever-improving succession of solar chargers for small gadgets like cell phones and MP3 players, as well as moderate-to-large portable solar power systems to fuel tech and small appliances during camping trips and power outages. It’s always interesting to see the improvements that are made with every new model, but there’s always been something missing: an in-between solar gadget charger that isn’t overkill for the little stuff, but is still big and strong enough to power something the size of, say, a laptop.
I love it when people read my mind and invent something I was wishing for. Meet the Solar Laptop Charger by Digital Ozone™, a still-conveniently-small solar charger (only 5.5 by 1.2 by 7 inches) that converts the Sun’s energy into enough electricity to fully charge a laptop battery or up to 12 smaller devices, like mobile phones.
It’s not bad looking, either. A stainless steel housing has a multicrystalline silicon panel on one side (with which to soak up and convert the Sun’s rays into electricity), and a cool little LCD indicator on the other, which tells you at a glance how much power it has left (I really like that feature – no nasty surprises). Another plus is switchable power output settings, so that you can customize the amount of power that’s doled out, preventing your electronics from being over- or underwhelmed with electrical flow.
And talk about the accessories! The Solar Laptop Charger includes 12 popular cell phone and laptop connectors, so that you can plug in almost any device without a hassle. Since there’s always a chance that you could be short on sunlight or time, there’s also an included AC-DC adapter that lets you plug into faster, more conventional power sources (like wall outlets) whenever the situation calls for it.
There are times in life when you just want to get things done without dragging out a hole saw. For me, one of the situations highest on that list is “plugging in my laptop.”
If that sounds weird, let me explain. The majority of desk and conference table power/data centers on the market are made to be installed into a surface, be that a counter, desktop, or any number of other work surfaces. This allows the outlet to rise above the surface when power receptacles and data jacks are needed, and then be retracted into your furniture when not in use, remaining virtually flush with the surface so as to not waste space or be a distraction.
There’s just one trick: installing something into a surface entails cutting a hole if there isn’t already one there. That’s where the hole saw comes in. Not that it’s the end of the world or anything, but some people either don’t own a hole saw, or would just rather not bother. Does that mean that they have to live without convenient laptop connections?
Not anymore, it doesn’t.
For those of us less inclined to permanently alter our office furniture, there’s now a “non-surgical” option for desktop plug-ins: the Tool-Free Desktop Outlet. It just sits right on top of your work surface and does its job without any hassle. Just plug it in (for full connectivity, you’re going to need to connect it to one wall outlet and one Ethernet jack), plunk it down where you want it, and you’re ready to go. Even better, you can move it anytime (and anywhere) you want to.
The Tool-Free Power and Data Center has a matte black finish that looks good with just about anything, as well as a sleek, modern egg shape. And there’s even an on/off switch that lets you cut power to your devices without unplugging the entire unit at the wall. Nice.
Rotating Surge Protector: The Portable (and Super Affordable) Way to Free Up Outlets and Guard Against Power Surges
Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
If you were to hit the road with your laptop, would you want it to be any less protected against power surges than it is when it’s at home? No way! But are you about to pick up that brick of a surge-suppressing PDU that’s under your desk and toss it into your luggage for safe computer plug-ins on the go? Not a chance.
At least I wouldn’t. Call me reckless, but as much as I’d like to know that my laptop isn’t going to be fried by a random power surge while it’s plugged into an unprotected wall outlet in a hotel or conference room, there’s no way I would reasonably tote along a surge suppressor just in case. I’m not going to sacrifice luggage space that I’d much rather spend on an extra pair of shoes or just-in-case jacket, and besides, what would the TSA think?
But I just came across a cool little traveling gadget accessory that’s made me change my tune about carrying on a surge protector. 360 Electrical has come up with a mini rotating surge protector that plugs right into any wall outlet (it’s about the size of a nightlight) to provide you with a single safe receptacle for, say, that roving laptop of yours.
Sounds like a great big “problem solved” to me. It takes up practically no room in a purse, suitcase or laptop bag, plugs in wherever you need it, and (get ready for the wow factor) it rotates.
Hmmm… a spinning, single-outlet surge protector. If you’re having a “what the heck?” moment here, let me explain. Ever noticed how a lot of the electronics that are important enough to plug into a surge suppressor also happen to have big fat adapters that tend to encroach on adjacent outlets, even when they’re not actually using them? Well, the same thing can happen if you plug those chunky adapter into wall outlets, and that can be a problem if you want full use of both receptacles.
That’s where the rotation feature comes into play. When you need to use that second wall outlet, just turn the 360 rotating surge protector until it (and whatever is plugged into it) is completely out of the way, and then enjoy your newly freed-up receptacle. Pardon the expression, but way to kill two birds with one stone.
Filed under: Energy Conservation, Power and Data Distribution
While I really enjoy trimming down my electric bill and having at least some piece of mind that my TV, computer and other gadgets aren’t going to get fried during some freak power surge, truth be told, I don’t have the spare time (or inclination) to go beyond a certain point in accomplishing either one of those things.
Are the printer and DVD player still continuing to draw power even when I’m asleep at night? They most certainly are, but you won’t find me unplugging anything that’s not being actively used before I shuffle off to bed. And likewise, I don’t ever want to see any of my precious electronics fried to a crisp during a thunder storm, but I’m not about to personally unplug each and every one at the first sign of a rain cloud.
Call me lazy, but I’d rather leave those jobs up to a very smart, green-minded and protective surge protector like the GreenSurge™ from 360 Electrical®. Designed to deliver the usual overvoltage protection while also going to bat for your budget, the GreenSurge features a unique combination of outlets that work together to intuitively cut power to devices that aren’t in use, which can save you some big money over time.
Here’s how it works: the GreenSurge Smart Surge Protector is made up of Master, Power Save, and Always-On outlets. You’d plug a main device, like a computer or TV, into the Master Outlet. The Power Save outlets would then be used to power peripherals (or secondary devices attached to the main device) like DVD/Bluray players, gaming systems, printers and scanners. Always-On outlets are for other non-peripheral devices that are always in use and need constant power flow.
As long as the main device (the one using the Master outlet) is on and running, the peripherals have all the power they need. But when the master device is turned off, that shutdown is detected by the GreenSurge, which then cuts power to the now-unused peripherals that are plugged into the Power Save outlets, preventing them from silently drawing (and wasting) power as they sit there doing nothing. As a result, you save energy and money without having to do a thing. If you ask me, that’s just smart… almost as smart as this surge suppressor.
Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
This may seem like a crazy question, but power receptacles are duplex (ie, they come in pairs) for a reason, right? Once upon a time, when electricity was just starting to get around, some very thoughtful and practical engineer got the idea that if you’re going to take the trouble to put in a receptacle, you might at well have two usable outlets instead of just one (at least that’s how I imagine it went). The concept worked like a charm until electrical safety codes got stricter, and power cord plugs grew to almost grotesque proportions to accommodate ground pins, GFCIs and who knows what else. Granted, these features keep us a lot safer in the long run, but seriously – have you tried to use two ginormous mutant plugs in adjacent outlets lately? It’s impossible!
I took out a tape measure this morning to size up a few of the bulkier plugs we have laying around the house, and here’s a sampling of the numbers I came up with…
Hair dryer plug:1½” x 2¾”
Beard Trimmer (for the record, not mine) plug: 1½” x 2”
Digital camera charger plug: 2¼” x 2”
With dimensions like that, and the way they overlap onto neighboring outlets, our appliance and gadget plugs are effectively halving the number of functional power outlets in our homes. Luckily, 360 Electrical has decided to help us take back what’s rightfully ours with their revolutionary rotating outlet.
At first glance, it looks like a traditional duplex receptacle, but the 360 rotating outlet sets itself apart from the rest as soon as you plug a power cord in and turn your wrist. The outlets turn! Any way you need them to! When you have the power to shift the positions of your outlets as needed, that means you’ll pretty much never have to worry about plugs crowding each other out again. Want to have a nightlight and a hairdryer plugged in at the same time? No problem!
What’s really amazing about these rotating receptacles is that they can be spun around even while they’re powering something, so you get all the benefits of customization with complete, nonstop functionality as well. And once you have them exactly where you want them, the outlets lock into place at one of the 18 locking points along each outlet’s circumference. If you’re sick of strategizing which devices to plug in where, you’ll definitely want to give these a try.
Filed under: Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that if you need to park or charge your gadgets in or on something, that something had better be from BlueLounge® Designs. An awful lot of charging stations and electronics organizers come my way, and without fail, the items from BlueLounge are the ones that consistently cause my lower jaw to come crashing (involuntarily, of course) down onto my laptop desk. They’re always chic, modern, a little bit funky, and minimalist in a way that could never be misconstrued as boring.
Case in point, our latest BlueLounge® addition, the Refresh Charging Station. This hot little number is gorgeously designed, comes fully equipped with built-in connectors, and is so small that you could almost call it “tiny.” It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d want babysitting the cell phone and iPod™ that are, if I’m not mistaken, currently sprawling out on your counter or desktop.
This brilliant little gadget corral/charger measures only (approximately) 9½ x 2 x 5½ inches, so it leaves most of your surface space available for more important things, but despite its compact footprint, it can accommodate up to 3 small devices at once. Refresh’s gently sloped surface is rubberized to provide plenty of traction for the gadgets that lounge on it, because, let’s face it, no one wants a cracked iPhone™ screen under any circumstances… least of all a slippery charging station mishap.
As I mentioned before, the Refresh charging station is very discreetly tricked out with 2 iPod cables, 2 USB extensions, and mini and micro USB connectors, so right off the bat, it’s compatible with 1,838 different gadgets, even without their individual chargers. When it’s time to repower, just slip the connector(s) you need through the charging surface, plug in, and let the Refresh do its work.
Convenience, organization and technology all rolled into one space-conscious and very stylish package. Now that’s refreshing.
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Power and Data Distribution
Not too long ago, I blogged about an extremely cool extension cord lock that’s able to internally secure connected power extensions to prevent accidental pull-aparts. An amazing concept and product, but one that’s really better left to pros who work with power tools on a daily basis, than to a mere DIY weekend warrior like me. It’s the kind of thing that I’d love to use in the yard and garage, but considering the fact that it needs to be hardwired onto your main extension cord, this particular plug lock was just a little too hardcore and industrial for my needs.
Just as I was beginning to think that extension cord locking was out of my league, the Angel-Guard® Cord Connect™ Plug Protector waltzed in the room – only a couple of days ago, in fact. Now this is something that any homeowner or handy type can really sink their teeth into (not literally, of course). Instead of installing permanently and working internally, this plug protector forms a protective shield around joined extension cord plugs, to keep them together while blocking out water and contaminants like dust, dirt, sawdust, and grass clippings. And best of all, it’s not permanent – when you don’t need it, just remove it and toss it into a drawer until next time.
But enough of that – let’s get down to how it works. The Cord Connect™ has a hinged, shell-like design that’s equipped with a cord pass-through at each end. To use it, just insert joined extension cord plugs into the connector chamber, and route each cord out through its respective pass-through. Once that’s done, just fold the Angel-Guard’s halves together, snap it closed, and go on your way.
The Angel-Guard® Cord-Connect™ is perfect for times when you’re doing yard work that involves things like electrical hedge trimmers, running some garden/party lights to brighten up a cook-out, or throwing an outdoor kids’ party with the kind of fun stuff (bounce houses and cotton candy machines, anyone?) that needs plugging in. Once it’s in place, you can keep your mind on the work or play at hand, instead of worrying that someone’s going to snag a foot on your extension cords and pull them apart, or that some stray water from the Slip ‘N Slide is going to get on the plugs and cause a short.
Kind of a relief, isn’t it?
Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
As I was scrolling through our extension cord page this morning, I was reminded of a product that, for no good reason, I’ve given way too little attention to. I’m all about electrical safety and smart working, and so is this little gem. How could I have passed it by?
Ever joined an extension cord to the power cord of a device or tool and started working, just to have some klutz come tripping along, catch his/her foot on the attached cords, and rip them apart? Rude interruptions like that can definitely cramp your working style, not to mention do the type of cord damage that can lead to an eventual electrical fire. Not good.
But I’ll tell you what else qualifies as “not good.” The way that people are apparently tying cords together to prevent this from happening. Are you serious??? I was so surprised to find that this is actually standard practice that, just for fun, I Googled “tying extension cords together.” A frightening number of results came back, one of the worst (and most popular) of which was a step-by-step eHow tutorial on how to get the job done.
While this seems like a quick and easy fix for the extension cord separation problem, people don’t seem to realize that tying an electrical cable in knots can lead to cracked insulation (hello, nasty shock) and damaged conductors – the kind that overheat and ignite. This solution is essentially a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or more specifically, a stupid and potentially harmful move disguised as a fast and clever fix for an annoying problem.
Call me crazy, but if I’m going for a simple but ingenious solution, I’d prefer that it be the genuine article, and not a half-baked “problem solver” that will most likely bite me back when I least expect it. That’s why I really like the Qwik-Lok Extension Cord Connector.
This twist-lock connector actually hardwires onto an industrial extension cord, replacing the original female end. Once it’s on there, whenever you plug in a power tool or piece of machinery, all you have to do is twist the connector, and it will actually lock the other plug in place internally, by sending spring-loaded locks through the holes in the device’s plug prongs. After the cords are locked together, it would take well above 250 pounds of pulling force to pry them apart.
Yep, I think that should hold.
7-Outlet Surge Protector with Individual Switches: Selective Outlet Powering for Gadget Owners Who Like to Call the Shots
I’ll admit it: I’m a little bit of a control… ummmmm…. aficionado. Take other people’s word for it that something is done? Don’t make me laugh. This chick needs to see it with her own two eyes, and make sure that it’s done right. Yes, it makes me a tad insufferable at times, but at least I know that the doors are locked before I go to sleep, that the thermostat has been turned down for the night, and that just a couple of lights are left strategically on, so that we don’t come home to a totally dark house.
That said, I’ve always liked the idea of smart power strips, which automatically shut off power-wasting peripheral electronics when the main devices they work with (ie, TVs or computers) aren’t being used. These intelligent PDUs are great to have around; they save energy and money, all without you having to do a thing. For all the normal people out there, smart power strips sound like the perfect way to plug in: they keep things on when you need them, and switch them off when you don’t… whether or not you remember to yourself.
But what about the in-charge, “I’ll-Do-it-Myselfer” types like me? Maybe we want to selectively turn things off on our own, without a smarty-pants gadget calling the shots for us. Maybe we have excellent reasons why we would prefer that certain devices remain powered. Maybe we, the hardheads who trust our own judgement most, inspired this extremely cool surge protector.
At first glance, this 7-outlet surge protector looks like most other PDUs… until you realize that each outlet has its own on/off switch. Hmmmmmmmm. Basically, thanks to those switches, you get to decide which plugged-in gadgets run, and which have had their fill of electricity for the day. In short, you’re the brains of this operation, not the power strip itself. I thought you’d like that.
There are a few nice little features that help you out in a good way, though. For example, those switches glow red when the outlets they correspond to are receiving power – a nice, easy way to assess the situation at a glance. And secondly, the 7th switch doesn’t belong specifically to a single outlet, but to the entire surge protector. Need to shut everything on or off at once? That’s the way to do it… if you make the decision to.