Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
Earlier this week, I was reading up on the history of Wiremold, a 110 year old company that’s been a lot of places and done a lot of things over the past century. They started out making electrical conduit, and moved on to things like raceway, loom, duct, and power products, with a few segues into War Effort manufacturing along the way. One thing that caught my eye was Wiremold’s introduction of the Tele-Power Pole in 1969. I though to myself, “Hey, wait, I know that thing!”
Turns out, I had seen the very same product a bunch of times over the past few years (yes, we sell it)… I just hadn’t realized that it was made by the same company I was reading about. So, after that lightbulb went off, I thought it might be worth a mention, because it really is a pretty cool item, and it’s still going strong after 40 years.
Tele-Power Poles were invented with the wide-open, cubicle-infested workplace in mind. Yes, I know, I hate cubicles too, but hear me out. Nowadays, we have the luxury of power and data connections right at our desks, no matter how far said desks may be from the nearest wall (and wall outlets/data ports). That’s largely thanks to innovators like Wiremold, and inventions like the Tele-Power Pole, which began allowing us to drop power and data cables from above the ceiling down to any workstation, anywhere in the room. Otherwise, we’d not only be seated in cubicles, we’d be seated in cubicles with extension cords and mile-long data cables running everywhere.
Take a minute to imagine that. It would be mass chaos, and people would be tripping everywhere. Not to mention that every inch of wall space would have to be encrusted in receptacles and data faceplates to accommodate everyone. Nope, it just wouldn’t work. But with Tele-Power, well… it’s a totally different story. Like the heavens have opened and are showering connectivity down upon us (literally – these things go from ceiling to floor). Since that fateful day they hit the market in 1969, Tele-Power Poles have let us tap into power and communications, without even leaving our rolling office chairs. I’ll raise my coffee mug to that.
Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
Well, I never thought the day would come, but I’ve actually come across a power strip that can only be described as manly. I’m not referring to the wussy, delicate, light beige-colored plastic ones that we all have around the house. I’m talking about a power strip that you need two hands to heft up onto your workbench. A power strip that has 10 outlets that were built for power tools. A power strip that’s covered in (wait for it)… diamond plate.
You heard me. Diamond plate. The manliest surface-cladding material known to mankind. And it’s pretty much all you can see when you look at the Plugmold® Tough Power Strip from Wiremold. This thing is awesome. So much so that I’m actually not going to show it my dude’s dude car guy husband, and instead save it as a Man Cave-warming surprise for when he finally lands the 2½ car detached garage he’s been drooling over. But since you don’t know him (so you can’t squeal) and I have you here anyway, I’ll tell you all about it.
The Plugmold Tough Power Strip is 48 inches long and has 10 outlets, which makes it perfect for mounting along the back of your garage workbench. There’s no shortage of power here, but there is a built-in circuit breaker to protect your tools against overloads. And have I mentioned how great it looks? I’m pretty sure it would even impress Courtney Hansen.
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
Being a small house dweller, I’ve found that no matter which room I arrange furniture in, something inevitably ends up pushed against a wall. Not that I wouldn’t love to have stylish little furniture groupings in the middle of the room, it’s just that the rooms I’m currently in possession of don’t have enough “middle” to allow that. So whether we’re talking the bed, dresser, couch or bistro table, they’re all getting pretty cozy with the outer perimeters of the rooms they live in.
While those up close and personal wall/furniture relationships aren’t so much a problem in and of themselves, the fact that there always happens to be a much-needed power outlet right where I need to position the latest IKEA purchase is getting to be a bummer. Sure, you can always leave said piece of furniture a few inches away from the wall, but with use, everything ends up weaseling its way right up to the wall, and I don’t want to have to worry about constantly making sure that plugs aren’t being squashed beyond the point of recognition and safety.
That’s why that FlatPlug® low-profile extension cord is about to make my life so much easier. True to its name, this handy power extension has a truly flat plug that won’t jut out from the wall and start a turf war with your furniture. That means you can arrange a room as you see fit, and still enjoy the modern conveniences of electricity without worrying about starting an electrical fire. Sounds good to me.
The was a time when I blogged affectionately about the faux leather charging station that maintained order on my kitchen counter, but alas, those days are over. My poor charging station became a casualty to my recent move. Gone without a trace. It’s been a few months now, and I’ve come to grips with the loss and am beginning to feel besieged by charger cords again. Time to move on.
Whereas in our last house we generally used to charge phones in the kitchen, my husband and I have somehow taken to juicing up our small electronics in the guest room/home office of the new digs. That’s fine and all, but I’ll have to change my strategy a bit, seeing as how my snack-size IKEA laptop desk is already tight on surface area. I need something that’s smaller than my old countertop charging station, but that has a similar look and feel. And I think I’ve found it: the Faux Leather Charging Valet.
I love it when things are useful and sound posh, don’t you? Charging valet. But lest you think that my admiration for this product is entirely name-based, let me tell you the other reasons why I’m sold on this baby. First, it’s 10″ x 10″ square, which makes it a lot easier to squeeze onto the back corner of my miniature desk than if it were, say, oblong, like my old charging station.
Secondly, it has the power strip built right in, which is something that you don’t see too often in charging stations (pardon me, “valets“) in this style and price range. Most of the time, you get what’s essentially a decorative, strategically laid-out box that can accommodate several gadgets, but you’re responsible for the actual power outlets. It’s really nice not to have to “accessorize” this charging station with the most essential part of the equation.
And lastly, it looks great, and is practically made to stash small office supplies. In addition to having room for 3 devices, there’s also a shelf that’s perfectly sized to fit a few Post-It pads, and a little drawer that would be ideal for paper clips, pens, and maybe even a short stack of business cards.
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.
Filed under: Electrical, Home Theater, Power and Data Distribution
It’s not something that most of us give any thought to, but did you know that studs and beams play a huge role in where your home theater’s A/V faceplates are located? We only see what’s on the surface of the wall, but if you were to take a peek behind the sheetrock, you’d most likely find that your outlets and home theater connections are actually supported by cable boxes, which, in turn, are securely screwed onto studs or other structural supports.
While that system has worked up to now, if you’re installing a home theater from scratch, it can be pretty frustrating to have stud placement dictating where you can or can’t put in a wall plate. The location of faceplates can affect where you place your TV, speakers, and even furniture – who wants their style cramped like that? Not me. That’s why I like the single-gang (in non-tech speak, that’s “regular size”) Wall Plate Mounting Bracket from Cables To Go®. It doesn’t have to be anywhere near a stud to give you a solidly-installed connection.
As I mentioned before, most mounting brackets and electrical/cable boxes need to be attached directly to a stud; otherwise, they’d wobble around like crazy whenever you tried to plug anything in. They also need to stand up to the extra gravitational pull put on them by cables – when cables naturally sag toward the ground, wall plates can take a lot of the brunt from that downward force. Attachment to a nice, solid stud ensures that brackets and wall plates will be as close to rock-solid as possible.
Luckily, Cables To Go® has figured out how to create a solid faceplate installation minus the studs. Their bracket has a unique design that uses fold-down tabs to grip onto drywall. To install, you cut a hole in your sheetrock, fit the bracket into it, and then fold the tabs back to hold it in place. From there, you just attach in-wall A/V cables to your wall plate, and then screw the plate onto the bracket. It’s simple, solid, looks great, and is perfect for retrofit installs.
Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
Ever wonder why power outlets often seem to be located in areas that are natural spots for sofas, bookcases, and even beds? That drives me crazy, considering that you either have to rearrange your room plan so that outlets are accessible (no way), or put your furniture where you darn well want it and lose the use of several much-needed receptacles. It’s easy enough to say that you’ll just compromise by plugging into the outlets and then pushing your furniture in front of them, but in reality, that often isn’t a safe thing to do.
For instance, let’s take the old “sofa in front of the outlet” scenario. It’s not really a problem if you can place the couch 5 or 6 inches away from the wall and know that it will stay there, but let’s face it: that’s not likely to happen. I don’t know about your seating habits, but at my house, it’s pretty rare for anyone to gently lower themselves onto the cushions and remain daintily perched along the forward edge of the sofa. No, we’re more for the end-of-day flopdown to catch a nice, relaxing episode of The Barefoot Contessa. This generally entails a high-impact landing that results in said flopper coming squarely to rest against the sofa’s back cushions. A few of these maneuvers always result in the sofa, which was hereto prudently positioned away from the wall and electrical outlets, making full contact and potentially crushing the power cords and plugs that are unfortunate enough to be behind it.
I do enough research on electrical safety to have a healthy paranoia about shock and electrical fire, especially as they relate to damaged cords. Suffice it to say that a crushed cable can be a bad, bad thing. So I never feel good about plugging in behind furniture, and, to be honest, go to great lengths to avoid doing that. But I just found out a very cool (and cheap – yay!) product that will let you have your furniture and your electricity, too: the Hug-a-Plug adapter.
The Hug-a-Plug plugs into any standard household power outlet to give you 2 outlets that are set at 90-degree angles to the wall. That means that you can plug in behind furniture far more safely, because plugs and cables don’t come jutting straight out from the wall, but instead lay against it. Your furniture can now get cozy with your walls again.
Filed under: Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
Tulips have sprung, temperatures are rising, and as Summer fast approaches, visions of Historic Route 66 are beginning to dance through the imaginations of red-blooded Americans from sea to shining sea. Who can’t picture themselves behind the wheel of that classic Hollywood road trip shot, the one that looks westward down a two-lane highway that’s empty except for a single top-down convertible winding its way toward a couple of cowboy-movie buttes in the not-too-far-off distance?
Ahhhhh, I can feel the wind undoing the affects of my mega-hold styling products just thinking about it. Road trips aren’t just great for a little nostalgia – they’re also the perfect way to squeeze a little freedom and vacation time out of Summer 2010, even though cash is still tight for many of us. There’s just one little difference between road trips Then and Now: technology. Whereas payphones and postcards were the chief means of communication back in the heyday of ’57 Chevys and themed motor lodges, in this age of Priuses and Hilton HHonors® rewards, we can’t live without cell phones and laptops.
One little problem there: said gadgets require electricity to keep their batteries charged and ready to serve us. And as most of you have probably discovered the hard way at one time or another, electricity is most readily available from wall outlets, of which there is a distinct shortage in automobiles. Sure, some of us have the cigarette-lighter chargers for our cell phones, but car-charging can get pretty tricky for items like laptops and iPods®. How’s a recreational road warrior supposed to cope?
Allow me to recommend the Travel Power Adapter by Belkin. This compact little set is made up of a power adapter that can be customized (via an assortment of included tips) to charge all of your must-have gadgets straight from the 12-volt DC port in your vehicle. This thing can even handle USB-driven electronics like iPods®. Just plug the adapter into your DC port, customize its charger cord with the tip that matches the gadget in need of juice, and you’re set.
What I love is that the travel adapter isn’t limited to use in your car. If you need to charge things overnight in your hotel room, you can just switch out the DC plug for the included AC adapter, and just plug into the wall. Now that’s a travel buddy.
Filed under: Electrical, Energy Conservation, Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
I enjoy nature and a nice hike as much as the next person, but when it comes to taking a load off and getting a good night’s snooze after all that fresh air, I’ve always balked at roughing it in a tent – I prefer to “hotel it.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m not the kind of girl who needs a 5-star resort with full spa services or anything like that. I just like things like electricity, indoor plumbing, clean sheets and a locking door – you know, the kind of things that make one comfortable. Call me crazy, but rocks jutting through the ground tarp and sleeping bag aren’t exactly my idea of lumbar support.
I have to say, though: with regard to the electricity aspect, all of the solar products hitting the market are beginning to make the prospect of bunking in the wilderness a little more palatable. First came solar chargers, which have made it possible to keep your cell phone or iPod juiced up even if you’re miles from the nearest power outlet. But now, things are getting even better, thanks to the GoBe™ solar power system, a portable power source that absorbs sunlight and turns it into enough electricity to power the really good stuff like laptops, electric fans, lights, and maybe even your Magic Bullet blender (margarita or fresh salsa, anyone?).
The GoBe™ system is made up of a briefcase (the solar panel unit) and a hub (the battery that you actually plug into). The briefcase soaks up sunlight, converts it into energy, and then sends it via cable to the hub for storage. When you need power, you just plug into the hub, and run your devices/appliances directly from that. Too easy.
One thing that I really like about the GoBe™ solar power system is that even though it’s primarily a green product, it’s not limited to relying on the Sun for a proper charge. Say that you’re going camping, or soon to be hit by a hurricane that will probably knock out your utilities. If you want to quickly charge the hub to capacity but don’t want to wait on the Sun, you can always plug it into a wall outlet instead. A little versatility is always a good thing…
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Desk Cable Organizers, Power and Data Distribution
These days, it’s pretty common to see grommets built into peoples’ desktops, so that they can run phone and computer cables through their work surfaces instead of across them. But what about conference tables? It’s 2010, and just about every conference room out there is wired to the hilt, so that their occupants can run everything from laptops and projectors to phone lines and A/V equipment. All of the cables associated with those electronics can make for a major mess come presentation time, so that begs the question: why don’t conference tables get grommets, too?
As it turns out, they do, and you’ll be happy to know that they’re not the standard-issue round plastic ones that you usually see in desks. You have to step it up a notch for a conference room, right? You bring visitors in there! But I digress. I’ll just tell you about the MHO® conference table grommet.
Conference tables are bigger than desks, so it just goes to reason that grommets made for them should be a little more substantial, right? The MHO® grommet is rectangular in shape, and distinctly bigger in size, measuring approximately 8″x4″. It’s also refreshingly free of flat black plastic, instead made out of very sleek and modern-looking anodized aluminum. The MHO® further differs from your run-of-the-mill grommet in that it doesn’t spend all it’s time as a gaping hole in your tabletop – it actually has a flip-open lid that closes flush with your table when not in use, so you have the benefit of a solid, flat, continuous workspace.
But the really great thing about the MHO® grommet is that it matches the extremely popular MHO® desktop power and data center. If you’ve already installed an MHO® power/data unit, you can still opt for a grommet, too, without worrying about what your conference table will look like with an unharmonious mix of extras installed – everything will look clean and uniform.
Filed under: Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
About three Christmases ago, I thought it would be a great idea to surprise my then-boyfriend (now husband) with an iPod. He’s never been much of a gadget guy, but was dying for some portable tunes to work out to, so I took that tidbit of information, combined it with the fact that I was strapped for cash, and settled on a nice, shiny 2nd generation Shuffle (I am not a cheapskate, people – keep in mind that this was back in the day when those babies were still $100 a pop).
But once I actually had the tiny piece of electronic wonderment in hand, I thought: “Hmmmmm, this is kind of small – maybe I should find him a few accessories for it.” So, I started mulling over everything from interchangeable iPod skins to iTunes cards. Then I saw it: a special dock that he could plug right into a wall outlet, for those times when the old Shuffle just needed a charge, and not a complete sync. After all, who wants to leave their computer grinding away for hours at a time just to charge a dinky (albeit cool) MP3 player?
My enthusiasm, however, came to a screeching halt when I saw that the stupid thing cost (if I remember correctly) upwards of 30 bucks. Are you kidding me??????????? So I settled for some assorted-color silicone iPod covers from my favorite bargain cool-stuff website, and called it a day. My man would just have to stick with computer-based USB charging for the time being.
Fast-forward 3 years. My husband and I are still charging both of our Shuffles (it turns out that he had the exact same gift idea for me that Christmas) from a laptop, and I’ve more or less forgotten about the wall outlet charger… until the other day, when I met a certain mini surge protector by Belkin, which happens to have two USB charging ports built right in. That’s what I’m talking about!
I’ve seen enough portable surge protectors in recent years that they really don’t catch my eye anymore, but those 2 little USB ports came pretty close to making my eyes bug out. The Belkin mini surge protector with USB charger plugs directly into a wall receptacle, and gives you 3 surge-protected outlets for laptops and the like, as well as 2 (also surge-protected) USB ports for charging iPods and other USB driven devices. All that, and it’s only half the price of that original Shuffle A/C wall adapter I saw a few years ago. Guess who’s getting one this Christmas?