loading

One wall of our living room is the virtual nerve center of our small apartment. I would venture that 80% of our electronics are either permanently located along this wall or are charged there. Power is supplied by two outlets in the wall. However, access to these outlets is limited by the furniture (cabinet, TV stand, printer stand, and desk) placed in front of them. Since permanently-placed items (such as the TV) are plugged in continuously, limited access to the outlets is not an issue. However, for portable devices I find that easy outlet access is essential if you need to take the charging cable with you on a trip. I recently purchased a drone and have acquired some other camera gear, which needs to be charged often. While I could simply use a power strip to provide "outlets" for these devices, I prefer the more permanent and elegant solution presented here.

Step 1: What I Used

I decided to create a dual-gang outlet, which would be placed in the cabinet where I store all of my camera gear. Power would be supplied to this new outlet via a 10' 14 gauge replacement cord. Since I am connecting this outlet to an existing 15 Amp circuit (protected by a 15 Amp circuit breaker), the 14 gauge wire is appropriate. If you were to connect this new outlet to a circuit protected by a 20 or 30 Amp breaker, a larger diameter cord should be used. Instead of using two standard outlets, I purchased an outlet replacement from Leviton, which has 4 USB ports built into it. This would allow me to charge up to 4 USB devices without the need for wall warts. A two-gang metal conduit box was purchased to house the outlets. I like these metal conduit boxes as they are finished nicely and can be easily painted to match the decor where they will be placed. Finally, I decided I would create a small stand for the outlets using 1/2" black pipe. Since the metal conduit box has 1/2" npt (national pipe thread) fittings in it, the black pipe could be simply screwed into it.

Pretty neat idea, unfortunately the usb outlet used here costs $35, and that's at Amazon. I'll just stick with the $2 USB cord that will plug into either my laptop or the wall
<p>I agree; this isn't the cheapest option, but I did it this way because I think it looks nicer and is custom fit to by needs.</p>
Although it's out of my price range, I do admit it's pretty cool. Maybe demand and competition will bring the price down soon
<p>Another &ldquo;techie&rdquo; thing is to use on the back of it or bottom putting on a Sonoff Bluetooth on off controller. Maybe you could show us how to do that as well. I understand how to put the controller on BUT, the stupid app will NOT remember my in formation and never will let me use the app... very frustrating.</p>
<p>there is concern of this being used on a 20AMP mains, that could be rectified if the maker installs a simple panel mount 15A breaker inline w/ the power feed between the power cord and the rest of the outlets, thereby if there were in excess of 15A of load (multiple toasters, hair dryers, whatsoever) then the weak link is the breaker, not the power cord, etc.</p><p>DelCity.net supplies one # 70515 </p><p>https://www.delcity.net/store/Thermal-Push-Button-Circuit-Breakers/p_539615.h_539678.t_1.r_IF1003?mkwid=scHWRqYx9&amp;crid=38094426869&amp;mp_kw=&amp;mp_mt=&amp;gclid=CjwKEAiA79zDBRCgyf2FgeiY-CESJABzr0BMLI2w8STSuSj0pDF69btj0xYYwZyaQdIBGnCZTCIF9RoC3BTw_wcB</p>
<p>I'm glad to see this comment. So many people in this thread voicing concern over the potential of pulling too much current through the cord, well if it worries you that much then add your own fuse or breaker, duh.</p>
<p>Yea, this is a great idea!</p>
<p>Really nice. Will definitely be using this in place of a traditional power strip as it looks amazing and provides both standard outlets and USB. Let's be honest, the USB ports are what we need most, these days. </p><p>Question: Why not pass the cord through the flange and nipple? This would keep it hidden from view and prevent access to the cord directly. Is it just a matter of not wanting to add yet another hole to the mounting surface, or am I missing something else?</p>
<p>That's an excellent idea! I hadn't actually thought of that. That being said, I still wouldn't have done that for my application as I didn't want a hole down through the shelf I was planning on mounting it to.</p>
Instead of a 90 you could have used a tee and not had to drill a hole. I would have used some black silicone around the wire at the hole or a rubber grommet to help protect the wire insulation from getting damaged over time. I realize you didn't even use the metal pipe after you cabinet mounted the box but s warning probably should go into your ible in case some wiring novices give this a shot. <br><br>I really like how smooth this ible reads and your wiring diagram image is very nice. Also those lever type wago connectors loo great. I use the wago push type connector instead of wire nuts for most all electrical work I do an they are great.
<p>Thanks for the comment. I have added a small sentence mentioning how I made sure the metal edges of the hole were very smooth. I like the grommet idea though. A piece of shrink tubing around the cord where it passes through the metal might hel as well.</p>
<p>wago's look pretty expensive. I wired hundreds of offices in 10 years plus fixtures switches etc etc. They indeed look pretty cool, I may buy a bag for experimenting, but for general electrical work. I wonder. I agree on the tee as opposed to the grinder concept.</p>
<p>What did this cost you to make? Pricing out each item seems to be more expensive than buying one of these already made.</p>
<p>I'm sure it is. The box and cover plate are quite inexpensive; around $10 for both I believe. You can pick up a regular outlet for around $2-$3. If you choose to use a USB outlet you'll be looking at $20-$30 depending on the outlet. The cord I used was around $14. So the total price of what I made was approaching $60, which really isn't a good deal; assuming cost is your deciding factor. Obviously, you could make something for much less if you didn't use the USB outlet and reused a cord from a broken or unused piece of equipment.</p>
<p>Excellent I'ble! Clear, concise, and extremely well documented. The pictures are clear and focused and leave nothing to question.</p><p>I've been thinking of doing something similar for a small behind-the-couch table I want to build. I was just going to flush mount the panel, but then the outlets would be face up and dirt and drinks (let's face it, I'm going to spill my beer at least once!) would get in there. This solves that 100%.</p><p>While others have correctly brought up the concern of pulling too much current through the circuit breaker, I wouldn't worry about maxing the circuit if you use this plug only for charging small devices. My concern would come from how many devices you have on and/or charging, connected to all outlets on the circuit, all at the same time. You've stated that it is the main hub, and while electronics engineers are pretty good at minimizing power consumption, having them all on at once could definitely pose a problem. But that's considering all wall outlets connected to the main circuit breaker, not just this outlet box.</p><p>It really comes down to common sense, and when in your life have you ever had the curling iron, toaster, space heaters, clothes iron, vacuum cleaner, blender, and pocket arc reactor all plugged in to the same circuit and running at the same time? Yeah, never.</p>
<p>Thank you! I'm glad I've given you some ideas for your project. That's what I was going for. Also, thank you for your comments on &quot;common sense.&quot; It really does come down to that anytime you are dealing with electricity - even when using commercially available products such as power strips.</p>
<p>Nice. It would be better to route the power cord through one of the other ports and use a strain relief. You could alternatively use a plastic grommet in the hole you drilled.</p>
<p>Agreed. I like the grommet idea. I hadn't thought of that.</p>
<p>This is one of the best In'ables if not the best one in all my years of reading these. I'll bet this inspires more builds then any other. Great safe and build-able instructions. I plan on building 2 this weekend.</p>
<p>Thanks!!!</p>
<p>Just get <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/TOPGREENER-TU2154A-High-Speed-4A-Dual-Usb-Wall-Charger-Duplex-Receptacle-Outlet-/261977442780?var=&hash=item3cff1289dc:m:mbp2wprf1XhYkt3jkYeUXuA" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com/itm/TOPGREENER-TU2154A-High-Speed-4A-Dual-Usb-Wall-Charger-Duplex-Receptacle-Outlet-/261977442780?var=&amp;hash=item3cff1289dc:m:mbp2wprf1XhYkt3jkYeUXuA</a></p><p>theyre much better anyways</p>
<p>Thanks for the link. The high price was the one thing I didn't like about the Leviton outlet I used.</p>
<p>Very good. I make four gang boxes on long cords for working in the shop, but the USB addition is genius. Thanks man.</p>
<p>I'm glad you were inspired - and not scared off by this idea.</p>
<p>Change title from, &quot;Anywhere Outlet&quot; to, &quot;15A circuit only outlet&quot;. </p>
<p>Well this is a good looking outlet and I can see where it would be a <br>better choice than a traditional power strip. I must be a <br>stick-in-the-mud, however, and point out that a power strip with a small<br> dual USB wall wart (or two if you need them) will be a lot less cost <br>and serve the same purpose, and most have a built-in circuit breaker. A <br>long narrow strip might not work well for some locations though. I've <br>used a similar setup on construction sites -- a dual outlet metal box on<br> the end of a 10 gauge extension cord so more than one power tool can be<br> plugged in. As noted, you need to size the cord according to the <br>expected load. Even with four outlets, we usually only ran one or two <br>tools at a time, just didn't have to reach down and change cords when <br>more than one tool was required for a job. Running four 8-12A power <br>tools at once would have been a problem! 10 gauge is only rated for <br>15A. Most replacement cords are 16 or 14 gauges, rated at ~4A and ~6A, <br>respectively, when used for power transmission (22A and 32A for short <br>runs, the shorter the cord the more it can safely carry). See </p><p>http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm</p>
<p>You need some threaded Blanking Plugs! Goodness, if a child sticks his finger in the conduit - hole, you'll have a problem:</p><p>http://www.gordonelectricsupply.com/index~text~5731308~path~product~part~5731308~ds~dept~process~search?gclid=CK7PhcqzvdECFQ-Bswod_NoHrA</p>
I also might add that this i a great i'ble. However i would not have used the pig tails except for the extra ground to the box and would have just wired straight to the outlet as the point at the wire nuts is a weak point that can fail. That is the reason for the 4 screws on the outlet is to piggy back a second outlet.
<p>Great instructable. Jees, there's a lot of doom and gloom posters. You should have put a disclaimer at the bottom only fro those with common sense. :-)</p>
<p>Haha. Yea, I try to cover my basis, but there are always holes in my thinking. The feedback is good though, as we all can learn something.</p>
<p>I like it, I don't know if it meets NEC requirements thought. Good job.</p>
<p>Thanks! I'm really not sure either. However, since I am not in-the-wall and I'm using a UL listed replacement cord rated up to the load of the wall circuits, I think it's probably ok.</p>
<p>The implied danger is that you're potentially introducing a weak point in the circuit. </p><p> Example: assume the 'source' outlet that this is plugged into is a 20a branch circuit with 12g romex. By itself, the circuit breaker is the weak point. The 12g wire can handle higher load than the breaker provides. So if you end up plugging in 3 space heaters, a curling iron and a few vacuums into it, the breaker will trip before the wire melts (or your devices are damaged/catch fire). </p><p>This is a big danger with permanently installed extension cords (which is what you've created here). Most power-strips have an appropriately sized circuit breaker on them, so that the strips' thinner gauge power cords cannot be weaker than the breaker &amp; outlet into which they're plugged. You don't have that protection here. The potential for overloading the 14g cable and NOT tripping the source breaker exists. </p><p>The easiest way to check on all of this is to go look up the size of your breaker. If you're at 10a or 15a, you're fine. You can't overload the 14g cable without tripping the breaker first. You're a little dicey if it's a 20a breaker. Finally, it's even possible to have a 30a / 120v branch circuit, in which case your builder would have likely used 10g supply feeds. You can imagine the danger of using 14g permanent extension cords on a 10g / 30a circuit. </p><p>Finally, keep in mind that the code covers POTENTIAL use cases. While you may be the only person who ever uses this particular extension, and may only intend to put small devices into this. However, someone else might read this and think &quot;that would be perfect for my blow-dryer/microwave/vacuum cleaner/space heater project&quot; and burn their house down.</p><p>Cliff notes: check your breaker.</p><p>Refer to various ampacity / wire-sizing charts:<br><a href="http://wiresizecalculator.net/wiresizechart.htm" rel="nofollow">http://wiresizecalculator.net/wiresizechart.htm</a></p><p><a href="http://www.stayonline.com/reference-circuit-ampacity.aspx" rel="nofollow">http://www.stayonline.com/reference-circuit-ampaci...</a></p><p>Basics on the relevant NEC:</p><p><a href="http://ecmweb.com/code-basics/branch-circuits-part-1" rel="nofollow">http://ecmweb.com/code-basics/branch-circuits-part...</a></p>
<p>&quot;the code&quot; in NYC may not like this device, and as such the insurance company that you have may decline a claim if it were to catch fire, or due to some mishap where 120 volts gets applied to the usb, frying someone side. Where we had to have low and high voltages in a single box there was always a divider between them.</p><p>That said I love it, I might consider adding another receptical box in the wall and installing this permanently, only using the usb receptical, then removing it b4 I sell it, inspectors can add 20K to your costs when selling a home. Your local town could see your pool/ac whatever tax you on it for 30+ years, THEN , when you go to sell they tell youno no no no, not up to code = very dangerous, people could hurt, get dead.........and when you say BUT YOU TAXED ME ON THIS FOR 30+ YEARS, plus I BOUGHT THIS HOUSE THAT WAY, they then shrug their shoulders and hand you a violation and a bill.</p>
<p>fun little story,<br><br>8 years ago i worked for a television news studio set construction company (basically built the background of the anchors/weather people and the desks). MY job was to do the electrical work and lighting. i created hundreds of these things for quite a few news stations. they are incredibly simple to make and having a few on hand is super useful; i even grabbed one on my way out when i was laid off and have used it in every home shop i've had since. i've been debating making a couple more for my garage.<br><br>i used 12' of chord and my boxes were the all steel parts though. that little extra bit with the chord is just enough that it's very useful.</p>
<p>This +100. In my shop I routinely use 25' extension cords that have had the female end removed and replaced with a metal outlet box like this one, but with 4 outlets--no USB. It's tough as nails and even of the cord is stiff, the box stays where I put it.</p>
<p>certainly, we used 4 outlets, no USB. these were as function over form as it could get. <br><br>the great thing about these too, is if you unscrew the face plate you can mount them to anything you want, then screw the face plate back on, making them also anywhere outlets.</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing and nice story :-) I assumed others had done similar things as I too have found that they are super useful!</p>
<p>I'm not sure that wiring mains to USB sockets is a good idea! If it's for powering / charging gadgets it should be 5V DC not 110 / 240 V AC. Mains would damage most USB devices. Also USB sockets and wiring are not rated for mains voltages.</p>
<p>The USB outlet that I used is a commercial product by Leviton, which contains both a step-down transformer and rectifier to convert the 120V AC to 5V DC. Similar to the USB boxes, which come with nearly all USB-powered devices now days.</p>
<p>OK, my bad, I'm not familiar with Leviton products here in the UK and didn't realise it had the necessary power conversion built in.</p>
<p>You can get similar in the UK from the likes of B&amp;Q and Homebase (although they're quite a bit more than normal sockets, and only have the two USB ports built in)</p>
120v mains voltage would definitely damage all USB devices. You should definitely check out the sleek modern direct in wall USB chargers like this ible uses that eleminate the wall wart charger.
<p>I've made several like this for my garage. Two with 4 120 outlets and one with 2 120 outlets and a switch to power it on and off. Making these are not necessarily cheaper than buying an average outlet strip. But their toughness for garage use is far superior! Plus if you did break an outlet (which I have) its cheaper to fix than replacing an entire outlet strip. You can also get longer 3-gang boxes for up to 6 outlets. Be sure to always wire the ground properly and the neutral and hot wires to the correct sides of the receptacle, this will help prevent shock hazards and possible damage to equipment.</p>
<p>Great project. One thing I would add, is to put plugs in the conduit holes in the gang box. If there is a spark inside the box, you want it contained in the box. Box fires can be nasty things when they happen. </p>
<p>Agreed! I've already fixed that. The conduit box came with some small plastic plugs, which I forgot to paint black with the box. I went ahead and finished up the Instructable and video before I got them painted and installed.</p>
great instructable. I was thinking about adding a power strip to my workbench, but I think this might be better. I'll probably do 2 outlets and 1 USB outlet
<p>Thanks! I'm glad you like it. You could even add switches to turn specific tools on and off if you liked.</p>
It might be wise to plug the open connectors on the box to prevent harmful access by anyone. Nice idea.
<p>I think I will. When I painted the box I forgot to paint the plugs that came with it, which is why I left them off for now. I just need to turn them black.</p>

About This Instructable

30,078views

348favorites

License:

Bio: As long as I can remember I've been building stuff. I think it's high time I shared these projects.
More by makjosher:The Anywhere Outlet Outdoor Workbench with Internal Wood Storage Adding a Headphone Jack to an iPhone Dock 
Add instructable to: