Filed under: Cables and Wires, Power and Data Distribution
Most people out there (including, most likely, you) would be hard-pressed to derive joy and excitement from something as mundane as an extension cord. But after 4+ years focusing on the ins and out of the cabling world, I’ve reached the point where I actually find certain power extensions interesting, even (dare I say it?) cool. And whereas it could be off-putting to others if I were to babble on in person about the amazing attributes of a given extension cable, I’m not directly subject to weird looks if I talk about them in this blog… so lucky me, and here goes! I promise, you’re going to like this one, too.
Coleman Cables is known for producing some of the most well-made, thoughtfully designed extension cords on the market, and the Cord Runner™ is no exception. I’m just sorry that I didn’t meet this product in time to introduce you to it in time for outdoor holiday decorating! If you’ve ever been hanging lights just to wish you had power outlets at regular intervals, then the Cord Runner™ definitely has New Best Friend potential for you.
Unlike most extension cords that plug into a wall outlet on one end, and provide you with a couple of outlets at the other, the Cord Runner™ extension cord actually has 3 outlets spaced out along its length, so you have convenient power access points staggered all the way from Point A to Point B. An outlet setup like this can be a huge asset not only for the holiday decorating I mentioned before, but also for jobs that require several power tools to be available at the same time, yet spaced slightly apart.
The Cord Runner™ is available in lengths ranging from 6 to 50 feet, so no matter what the scale of your job is, there’s a cord to suit it. And here’s another great feature: all 3 outlets are molded out of clear plastic, with protective flaps to keep out dirt and moisture, as well as a neon power indicator light embedded into each one. When power is running through a receptacle, the entire outlet glows to let you know that. It increases the safety of the cord, and makes it look good too, which never hurts.
Filed under: Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
Thanks to everyone’s combined obsessions with gadgets and green energy, tech gifts like solar chargers are hot ticket items this holiday season. With a few days left of Hanukkah and Christmas just around the corner, environmentally-friendly gadget accessories are great quick-fix for the last-minute, impossible-to-buy-for friends and family on your list.
Talk about perfect timing. I just came across our very newest product, the Solar Power Pack by Manhattan/IC Intracom, and I have to say, I like it. I’ve played around with other pocket-sized solar chargers before, and while they were very cool and worked, I felt like they were a little… how can I say this? Prototypical. Like someone had only just worked the kinks out, and then put them on the market.
There’s nothing wrong with that (after all, pretty much every decent product out there has undergone a period of evolving from good to great). It’s just that I like to see little bit of polish and refinement in the things that I buy – I’d rather not have the “rough draft,” so to speak.
That’s why I like the Solar Power Pack - it still charges small electronics with the power of the Sun, but has much more of a “next generation” feel to it. And at 3.7 by 1.5 inches, it’s tiny… smaller than your average cell phone, as a matter of fact. Believe it or not, the mini solar cells have the ability to power MP3 players up to 45 hours, cell phones for up to 12, and portable video games for up to 2. Not too shabby, considering that that’s free electricity.
What’s really cool is that the Solar Power Pack comes with a small variety of adapter cables and interchangeabe tips, which allow you to fit just about any popular device out there. Need to top up the battery pack’s power at night, or during a particularly sunless day? Just plug it into your computer’s USB port, and you’ll be good to go in no time. The Solar Power Pack is also perfect for international travel, because it lets you charge your gadgets anywhere, without ever worrying about which wall outlet adapter you’ll need.
Remote Controlled Power Outlets: How to Switch On the Twinkle Lights Without Knocking Over the Christmas Tree
Filed under: Electrical, Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
I made a discovery last night. A bad one. One that could mean the premature demise of my Christmas tree unless otherwise remedied. I can’t plug in/unplug the lights unless I practically climb over and through the tree. That’s twice a night, people, and we’re talking about one of “them balsams” referenced in the Parker-family tree-buying scene in A Christmas Story… the kind that shed their needles like nobody’s business. We’re still nearly 3 weeks out from the Big Day, and I’ve been getting nervous that I’ll have a huge, bald Christmas tree skeleton in the corner of my living room by the time the 25th rolls around.
Needless to say, the old noggin has been working furiously to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve me knocking needles, ornaments and tinsel off the side of my beloved tannenbaum 14 times a week. And by George, I think I’ve got it! Remote-Controlled Power Outlets. Don’t know why I didn’t think of these babies before, but I figured that at least a few of you must be struggling with the same problem, so I wanted to get the word out while there’s still plenty of time.
These remote-controlled outlets are cheap and easy to set up, which is pretty nice considering that most of us tend to be tapped-out on both time and money around this time of year. Here’s how they work: just plug a remote outlet into a standard wall receptacle, and then plug whatever it is you’ll be switching on/off remotely (for me, Christmas lights) into the remote outlet. Then grab the remote control, point, and click. You can even use them outdoors – we’ve gotten great reviews from a few customers who have used the outlets to operate lights and fountains in backyard water features.
Did I mention that they have built-in timers, too? During the holidays or at any other time of the year, the possibilities are endless.
NOTE: This product has been discontinued and is no longer available.
We do offer a similar alternate product – Check out the Tork/NSI 655D Remote-Controlled Indoor/Outdoor Timer
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.