Which Desk Outlet is Right for You?

BY: Shane Weaver

Removable or Not Removable, that is the question

Which Desk Outlet is Right for You?

There are many choices in life that should not be taken lightly. Buying a car, or buying a house, for example. Figuring out whether to accept that job offer that requires you to move across the country. Whether to take your relationship with the person you're seeing to the “next level.”

And then, of course, there's choosing a desk outlet. Wait, hear me out! Okay, okay…maybe selecting a desk outlet isn't quite up there with figuring out who you're going to spend the rest of your life with. But depending on the outlet you choose, it can have long-lasting, sometimes permanent consequences, especially for your desk. It's not something you want to enter into without an appropriate amount of forethought, is all we're saying.

So how can you determine which desk outlet it right for you? Well, it depends upon your specific needs, of course. While everyone could likely benefit from limiting the amount of cables they have to run across floors, not all desk outlets are created equal. It doesn't mean one is worse than another, but they fill different niches in the delicate desk ecosystem.

Before we get too deep, let's refresh ourselves on what a desk outlet actually does. It provides safe and convenient access to connections such as AC Power, USB, and Ethernet. Instead of running several different cables across your floor, which is a messy trip hazard just waiting to happen, you can bring that connectivity directly to your desk, minimizing all that cable clutter and saving you from a lawsuit or a twisted ankle or your cables developing a sentience and rising up to destroy their human overlords who have relegated them to the hated floor. Maybe that last one's not a thing that happens. But do you really want to chance it?

Desk outlets should not be mistaken for grommets or bushings, which are typically simple cable pass-throughs, rather than connectivity solutions. So what kinds of desk outlets are available, and which is best for you?

The different types of Removable Desk Outlets

Removable Desk Outlets

What are they? Just what it says. A removable desk outlet is one that typically requires no cutouts or large holes for installation. In fact, they often don't require any alteration of your desk or table top whatsoever. How do they attach? There are a few options. The first is magic. No, just kidding. Some simply rest atop your desk (or anything flat, really: counter tops, horrible singers, old soda pop…okay, maybe not ANYTHING flat). Other examples feature clamps that allow them to mount securely on the edge of your desktop. A small portion of our removable offerings require small screws for installation, but nothing that would leave a sizable hole in your desk, unless it's a tiny dollhouse desk, in which case we probably don't have desk outlets that small anyway. Other types attach under your desk, via screws or strong adhesives.

- Edge Mount Power Data Center – a “clamp-on” model
- Electrical Assemble Reveal – an “under desk” model that attached via adhesive
- Moire Desktop Power & Data Outlet – a “sit on top” style desk outlet

Who should use them? If you're working at a desk that doesn't belong to you, and is used by other people, you may not be able to make permanent alterations. A removable option is a good idea in this case. Also, if you don't have a fixed desk and find yourself working at many different workstations, a removable outlet might be the solution you're looking for. And then, of course, there's the fact that you may not have the ability or desire to make large, permanent holes in your desk. Maybe it's an antique, or maybe you just don't feel comfortable doing it. No judgment. In such cases, you can save yourself the headache with a non-permanent option that can be easily removed with no damage to your desk. They also have the benefit of not being fixed in a specific location, so if you need to move it around for more convenient access, you can easily do so.

The different types of Built-In Desk Outlets

Built-In Desk Outlets

What are they? A built-in desk outlet involves a little more effort to install than a removable one, but the results are often worth the effort. These outlets, as their name implies, are integrated into your desk or table top. This means you have to determine the placement of your outlet, measure the proper area it needs to fit within, and then remove a chunk of desktop with a saw or hole-cutter or your pet beaver or whatever. They typically, but not always, have closing tops and many customization options for the ports within.

- Bonito PDC – a popular round in-desk option with a unique “flip over” top
- FSR T6-AC3 Table Boxes – a fully customizable, professional outlet with a hinged cover and optional stylish aluminum finish
- Power Data Sphere – an economical, customizable option that protrudes above the desktop

Who should use them? The closing tops on many models ensure that, when not in use, they remain fairly flush with the desktop. This creates a discreet, aesthetically pleasing and professional look. This, and their permanent nature, makes built-in outlets a great choice for conference or meeting rooms where there is always a need for convenient power and data access. There are also more fully customizable outlets available from the built-in selection, so if you need a wide variety of outlet types in a single unit, a built-in option might be your best bet.

The different types of Pop-Up Desk Outlets

Pop-Up Desk Outlets

What are they? Like built-in models, a pop-up outlet requires you to do a bit of hard labor and permanently alter the surface of your table or desk top. But rather than having a closing lid or no lid at all, these outlets are retractable: the outlets themselves either elevate vertically out of the desk, or pivot open on a hinge.

- Miniport PDC – a popular, no-nonsense hinge top power/data center
- 2-Port Power/Data Pop-up Desk Outlets – a simple & small option for fast and convenient access

Who should use them? A pop-up outlet offers some of the same benefits as a built-in outlet: they are discreet and aesthetically pleasing with a nice professional look. They also allow for a bit more convenient access than built-in options, as they elevate the outlets themselves above the surface of the desktop. There's a lot of variation in the retractable desk outlet catalog, from options with just a couple of ports to fully customizable systems that meet just about every power and data need you can think of. Some will even open automatically with the push of a button, so you can pretend you're living in some kind of futuristic science fiction universe…if you're into that sort of thing.

…And there you have it! Hopefully now you have a better understanding of desk outlets, and can better determine which one is right for you.