Blame it on my childhood Mary Poppins movie binges, but the first time I laid eyes on the product we’re about to talk about, all I could think of were Cockney chimney sweeps shouting “step in time” while dancing and jumping over chimneys, stovepipes and other rooftop obstacles. Not that Arlington Industries’ Roof Topper™ Rooftop Conduit Supports qualify as rooftop obstacles… quite the opposite, in fact.
To be honest, I generally don’t really give what goes on on rooftops a lot of thought, unless a storm with driving winds happens to be forcing rain between my shingles and causing a leak, or, of course, I happen to be curled up in front of the TV watching Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke “popping in and out of chalk pavement pictures” and conducting tea parties on the ceiling for the 5,347th time in my life (just an estimate). But the truth is that roofs need to be given quite a bit of though, especially if you need to route pipes or conduit across them and have any respect at all for the National Electrical Code and safety in general.
Roof Topper Rooftop Conduit Supports allow you to elevate conduit and pipes about roof surfaces per NEC requirements without having to drill or install any special hardware. They’re designed with UV-resistant plastic bases that simply sit on your roof deck and allow you to clamp on conduit. That’s it. No heavy rubber blocks that crack and crumble after long-term weather exposure, no power tools or holes in your roof.
Roof Topper supports are intended for use with conduit 4 inches or more in diameter, and are rated to withstand weights of up to 2,000 lbs, so they can tackle just about any job you throw at them. They’re also available in several different configurations, from base-only to models with your choice of struts, end clamps and threaded rods, so all you need to do is select the style you need and install that conduit – so easy! It’s almost enough to make you want to compete in a derby on the back of a carousel horse.
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
Wiremold Legrand® Tele-Power® Poles have long been a must-have in wide open office spaces where not every desk has the convenience of a wall and the outlets you’d usually find in one. They’re basically designed to let you drop electrical wiring and data cables down from the ceiling anywhere within a room, so that you can have access to power and data connections no matter how far from a wall your workspace is located. Smart, right? They’re a fantastic product.
And now, to make a great thing even better, there are Tele-Power® Pole accessories that make an already custom product even more tailored to fit exactly what you need. This collection of faceplates, grommets, cable managers and trim plates makes it easy to add whatever you need, wherever you need it, while still looking completely polished and professional.
Need an extra pair of power outlets? No problem. Want to add A/V connections alongside your Ethernet ports? Just choose which jacks you need, and pop them into a customizable A/V faceplate. Want to protect bend radius where cables emerge from the ceiling and run down into a Tele-Power Pole? The Data and A/V Add-On Cover is the perfect fit. And those are just a few of your options…
Just like the the Tele-Power Poles they’re accessorizing, all of these parts are designed to be industrial-strength for constant use, and are made of either heavy duty plastic or stainless steel. And just in case you can’t take your utilitarian workhorses without a splash of decor on the side, they’re even paintable to match any nearby walls and fixtures.
If there’s one type of product that I never get tired of, it’s cable raceway that pretends to be molding. Crown molding, baseboard, chair rail, you name it… if it hides cables while looking like an architectural trim, I’m in love. I’ve done numerous blog posts on different raceway/molding products we’ve added over the years, but today may very well be my final such post.
I’ve met what, to my knowledge, is the end-all of home theater raceways: Raceway Crown™. This isn’t an “it looks really close to crown molding” kind of thing… it is crown molding, and of the best sort: the kind you can stuff low-voltage cables behind, so you never have to see them again. Now, I was lucky enough to buy a house where the crown molding was already installed, and happily, I’m not plagued by visible cables at the moment, but were I crown molding-less and eager to hide some wiring, I’d be all over this stuff like the proverbial white on rice. I’m serious.
Raceway Crown consists of two main components that work in harmony to get things done. First are the brackets, which are installed onto walls by just zipping in a few screws with a power drill – easy. Once the brackets are installed, you thread cable ties through them, and cinch your cable bundles into place. Then comes the actual molding, which snaps onto the brackets to cover up the wires. The icing on the cake comes in the form of the splice covers, pre-formed outside corners and copes, which cover up the seams and keep you from having to make ultra-precise miter cuts (miter cuts being the main thing that deters a lot people from installing crown molding to begin with).
The crown molding raceway is made of white PVC, so you can leave it alone if you want (it will have more or less the same look as wood molding painted with white trim gloss paint), or lightly sand and custom paint it yourself, to match any more creative decor whims. Either way, you’re gonna love this stuff.
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
It’s Friday afternoon again, and that could only mean one thing: movie review time! This week, we’ll take a look at a couple of product demos that, even though they probably won’t go viral anytime soon, are definitely useful to people who are into cable installation and management. Ready to go? Roll ‘em!
Hinged Raceway Installation: Our New Products guru Tiffani is back to answer a question commonly asked by our customers: what’s the best way to install raceway? Tiffani gives a quick demonstration of how to install raceway using either double-sided tape for standard applications, or screws for jobs that are heavier or otherwise require a little extra staying power. We always mention on our raceway product pages that you have these two options for installation, but I like it that now we actually have a live-action demonstration with detailed explanations and suggestions.
How to Use an EZ-SnapJack™ RJ45: I don’t know how it happened, but we got Fernando out from his usual spot behind the camera, and into the hot seat instead (good thing, though – he knows a ton about our products, too). In this video, Fernando shows how EZ-SnapJacks™ from Platinum Tools work. Before I go any further, in my opinion, the EZ-SnapJack is one of those products that’s so cool and, well, “EZ,” that it almost isn’t fair. I think my jaw dropped a little the first time a rep demonstated this at our office. It’s an RJ45 jack that wires without an actual punchdown tool – you just strip your cable, untwist 4 pairs, line them up in the right color configuration, slide the ends into a tiny clear sleeve, and then snap the whole thing into a jack. No individual wire seatings and punchdowns – and what’s really crazy is that they actually do work. Fernando gives a quick Reader’s Digest-type demo that shows how termination actually happens after the wires have been pre-arranged in the sleeve, and also shows how the jack can be reopened and reused if you need to change things around. Definitely check it out – this is a product worth seeing in action.
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.
Vertical-Lok Electrical Duct Spacers: So You Don’t Have to Sledgehammer Your Way Out of a Conduit Mishap
This probably goes without saying, but “oopsie” is one thing you never want to say or hear during a job involving poured concrete. There’s something about that quick-drying, irreversible-without-a-sledgehammer building medium that has a way of inspiring a “let’s get this perfect the first time around” attitude. Laying down a new celebrity square on the Hollywood Walk of Fame must be a nerve-wracking nightmare for the person whose job it is to do it right, but do you know what’s even higher pressure?
Yikes. Just think about it – vital wiring for a soon-to-be building, all buried beneath a hard, thick layer of concrete. The tough stuff may be great for protection, but if anything slides the wrong way under the weight of the concrete being poured over, around and through it, who knows what could happen. All I can say is that you don’t want to be faced with troubleshooting once the concrete is in place. So how do you prevent any tragic mishaps?
One excellent way would be to use Ipex’s Vertical Lok™ Electrical Duct Spacers before the cement mixer pulls up. Designed to act as a sturdy frame to hold rows of conduit firmly in place, these spacers help duct formations stay properly stacked and in line, even under the pressure of pouring concrete.
Unlike some prefabricated duct support systems, Vertical Lok™ spacers come in individual sections, so that they’re easier to transport to, and handle on, the jobsite, and let you build a spacer configuration that exactly fits your needs. Featuring a tight fit and plenty of spaces to accommodate reinforcing bars, the Vertical Lok™ system gives your duct and conduit superior strain relief, so you don’t have to worrying about things bending, buckling, or being forced out of shape. And it doesn’t even require any special tools for assembly. This is one of the best “oops” preventers I’ve seen in a while.
Filed under: Cord Covers, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
ADA Compliance: it’s so important and so necessary, but it can also be a tough pill to swallow for business owners and facility managers who are on a tight budget. ADA compliance can be as simple as laying down some paint and installing signage to designate accessible parking spaces, or building a relatively inexpensive ramp to make an entranceway more easily traversable for mobility-challenged individuals who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and crutches to get around. But what if you have cables that lay across indoor pathways on a pretty much permanent basis?
Floor-level cords are a notorious tripping hazard even for people who are able to get around without any trouble. But add things like wheelchairs or crutches into the equation, and those cables not only become an obstacle to roll over, but also threaten to snag walking aids, which can cause the individuals using them to lose their balance and fall. Not to mention that rollovers and pedestrian trampling of any kind can crush and otherwise damage the cables. It’s a situation that you can’t ignore.
Several cord protector manufacturers have solved the problem of ADA compliance in the presence of floor cords (and even hoses and air lines) by creating a variety of heavy duty polyurethane cable covers with gently sloped sides that are textured for traction and accommodate wheelchairs without a problem. They’ve also come up with modular rails that can be attached to ADA-compliant cord protectors to create clearly marked crossing points that have the added advantage of providing hand-holds for people who’d like a little extra stability.
These are all outstanding products, but have the drawback of being a little too expensive, bulky and intrusive for environments like smaller retail stores, offices, and school media centers. While they’re perfect for large outdoor events, concert venues, and other large-scale applications, the heavy duty polyurethane products would just be overkill in situations that don’t include crowds in large, open spaces.
Enter the OFR Over-Floor Raceway by Legrand Wiremold. It’s every bit as ADA-compliant as its bulky counterparts, but with a scaled-down, low profile steel design that’s appropriate for just about any indoor business or educational environment. It can be installed over any type of flooring, and when all is said and done, it only rises a half inch above the floor surface, with sloped sides that ease the crossing of pedestrians, wheelchair users, and even small carts. People are protected, cables are protected, and no one goes broke in the process. You’ve gotta love that.
Click and Go Tool-Free Cable Trays: Flat-Packed Cable Trays That Store Flat and Snap Together Fast, No Tools Needed
As the recession has dug its claws in over the past few years, it seems like I’ve been seeing more and more references in the media to “cottage living.” While they’re not all going out and purchasing charming lakeside and country homes (obviously), many Americans have made it a point to downsize, moving into smaller homes and apartments, and parting ways with all of the junk that they just don’t need. To me, this kind of lifestyle just makes sense – why pay utilities and property taxes on a huge house that’s more a storage unit than a living space?
I’m glad to see that this pared-down mentality is catching on in the cable management and electrical industries, as well. For the past few years, we’ve been offering raceway that comes flat on a roll, and collapsible electrical boxes that ship flat and are then snapped into shape when you need to install them. But I’ve just come across one of the most significant space and money savers I’ve seen yet: Click and Go® Tool-Free Cable Trays.
Like both the raceway and outlet boxes I just mentioned, Click and Go® cable trays ship and store flat, and don’t expand to their full size until you’re ready to install them. That means that they cost less to ship, take up less prime real estate on your stock shelves, and save a lot of room in the back of your pickup truck or service van compared to basket-style cable trays.
The thing I love most is that even though Click and Go® trays help you cut corners on shipping expenses and requisite storage space, they don’t sacrifice performance. These things can do anything and go anywhere that traditional cable trays do, thanks to a huge variety of accessories that let you customize the shape and direction of your cable tray system. 45° and 90° bends, 4-way junctions, T-junctions, reducers, forks, covers, trapezes – you get the idea.
And one more point – i”m sure you noticed the “Tool-Less” mention in the product name. That’s because it takes absolutely no tools to assemble – you just align the cable tray sections, fold them into shape, pop in a few clips, and you’re ready to go.
Every so often, you come across a product that’s not only well-made and affordable, but also provides employment and income to those who need it most. Case in point: there’s a little non-profit shop not far from my house, which sells all sorts of handcrafted items made by artisans in third world countries. Musical instruments, housewares, textiles, jewelry, toys – they’re all beautiful and unique, and the kinds of things you’d definitely bring home from travels to faraway places.
The catch is, when these items are sold (mainly to tourists) in their actual countries of origin, the artists can barely turn a profit. Sold in the US, though, for higher (and yet what still seem like shockingly low) prices, these products now yield a much higher income for those who created them. It’s essentially a Fair Trade arrangement, except that instead of applying to things like coffee, the concept applies to handicrafts. I love to purchase gifts there, because you can not only find something uncommon and exotic, but you also feel good knowing that your business is truly helping someone out.
All of this lead-in to explain why I’m such a proponent of today’s featured product: CAB cable rings. CAB cable rings are made to support aerial cable runs in an amazing number of industrial applications and environments, ranging from utilities and paper mills to open pit mines and traffic lights. They’re available in stainless or galvanized steel, as well as in standard and “long” styles, which give you the flexibility to suspend single or multiple cables of varying diameters. Not to mention they’re extremely cost-effective.
But it gets better. CAB cable supports are produced by individuals at the Cambria County Association for the Blind and Handicapped (CCABH) of Johnstown and Ebensburg, Pennsylvania. CCABH was founded by the local Lions Club in the 1940s, and now provides functional disabled adults with job training, employment (producing CAB cable rings and a variety of other products), and a sense of purpose. In addition to job skills and the opportunity to earn an income, members of the CCABH program also receive individual, group, and family counseling, are able to participate in social-orientation lessons that include basic budgeting, banking transactions, and comparison shopping, and are included in CCABH-sponsored outings that include dinners, shopping trips, and tours.
If you’re planning an aerial cabling project, please keep CAB cable rings in mind when you’re shopping around for cable supports. Getting the job done is always a great thing, but it’s so much better when you can support an extremely worthy cause along the way!
Learn more about CCABH…
No, Burt Ward never exclaimed that one during his years as Robin, and yes, it is kind of a weird way to kick off a blog post. But cut me a break – what else was going to pop into my head when I found out about Ideal Industries’ Duct Seal?
Duct Seal is a soft, putty-like compound that can be molded, squished and worked into just about any small gap in flashing or heating/air conditioning ducts, and around pipes, conduit and electrical boxes. It helps stop air leakage, makes surfaces smooth and void-free, and pretty much saves the day, just like the Dynamic Duo.
Because it’s ultra pliable, Duct Seal can take almost any form you need it to; you can work it into a low-profile sheet to patch cracks in ductwork, or mold it into more of plug-type shape to fill in the holes and gaps that are usually left around electrical boxes or pipe penetrations. Just work it into place and smooth the surface: problem solved.
Unlike some other filling materials, Duct Seal never hardens, so if you ever need to undo your work, the compound can be easily removed without you having to hack or chip away at it, or otherwise make a mess. But here’s the really cool thing: even though Duct Deal stays soft, it’s actually paintable, so you can match it to your walls for a seamless finish.
The Duct Seal formula is completely nontoxic, and unlike many other chemical-based repair materials on the market, you can handle it without gloves or fear of skin irritation/chemical absorption. It’s also completely non-corrosive, so it’s safe to use on both plastics and metals. Ooooh, and one more thing: Duct Seal also has a relatively high flash point (590°F), so it’s helpful in preventing electrical fires.
While it may not be a caped crusader, Duct Seal is a multitasker that’s really worth keeping in your toolkit. Because it’s able to run the gamut between HVAC, plumbing and electrical, it can save you from having to keep a stock of different tapes and filler compounds on hand, and unlike some of the stickier products out there, it’s actually easy to redo if you need to make changes.
So Bam!!! Pow!!! Splat!!! Take that, holey ductwork.