Introduction: DIY Power Bar

Picture of DIY Power Bar

Build a high quality power bar that can be as basic or advanced as you want and it's module replaceable.

Step 1: Parts List

Picture of Parts List

Parts list and sources.

My parts were bought and scrounged from other things.

2x receptacle's. this is where the grade and quality comes in. I used hospital grade 20 amp plugs with integrated surge protection and GFI protection on the circuit as well. Scored from ebay for 19 bucks each.

Wire......again pick and chose, something good quality that's meant for use as a portable appliance cord. i used a cord from a 800watt stage spotlight, over kill but heat resistant and uses 12 gauge wire.
(make sure to save a few pieces for jumpers between your plugs, about 6 inches. )

Male Plug - I used a hospital grade 20 amp plug, found in my parts bin. Shop around, home depot would have a basic version of this. Ebay if you want a nice hospital or audio grade plug. Make sure you get one that has the ground plug on it.

Box - I used a dual gang outdoor box with a 3/4" non threaded fitting.

Through tight vapor fitting.....not essential but acts as strain relief. Will be found in the home depot isle close to the box. NOTE: you will also need glue to attach it, your supposed to use pvc glue, but being that its not going outside i just used gorilla glue and its never coming outa there so im not worried about it.

Cover pate.. plastic, metal, whatever you want, i used stainless steel, was the most expensive one there but it looks nice when its all done.

Tools, wire cutters, strippers, and a few screwdrivers.

Step 2: Assembly of the Plug.

Picture of Assembly of the Plug.

Assembling the plug is fairly straight forward.
- Strip one end of your chose cords cover off and strip about 1 cm of cord and curl it into a loop and attach your hot , neutral and ground to the cord cap and crew the cover on.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, mine was already assembled , i found it in the parts box , but there are sites that will explain this in greater detail if you need it.

-next feed the through tight fitting nut over the end of the wire followed by the rubber gasket and insert the end into the fitting on the box.

Don't tighten it down yet as you will need the slack to attach the wires to the plugs.

Step 3: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

Start by laying your plugs out on the table and read any directions that may have come with them

Because i am using one GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) i am going to feed the second plug through the first one.

Make sure that you put that hot wire, ( if you wired you male plug right this should be the black one) on the hot line side of the plug. On the gfci its labeled on the bottom of the plug hot and white.

The line side means the side of the plug that your power comes into , so from the wall. On most plugs the hot screw is discolored making it visible and therefore less likely to be mistakenly connected in reverse.

The white wire, or the neutral will be attached to the white side or the side with the silver screw.

Hooking these up backwards is not a good thing, hot neutrals can cause shocks and can be dangerous. However some houses are wired wrong and sometimes just cant be helped.

The Load side on the gfci as seen in the picture will be attached to the second plug, in this case the TSS ( transient surge suppressor)

Ground - The gfci has a ground screw , and the second plug as a built in ground wire. Because its not permissible to attach two wires to the ground screw were going to attach the plug ground to the gfci , the box's ground terminal will be attached the second plug and the two will be bonded together by the metal strip shown in the picture

Step 4: Final Assembly

Picture of Final  Assembly

once your wiring connections are done double and triple check your polarity's (Hot and Neutral, Black and White) and your connections.

Line your receptacles up with the box and pull the cord out till its taunt getting any slack wire out of the inside of the box.

Tighten the screws of the plugs down till they are flat and the plugs are level with each other. you may have to loosen them later to adjust the position of the plug slightly to ensure a proper fit of the cover plate.

finally push the rubber gasket up to the bottom of the fitting and tighten the plastic nut onto the box.

Lastly , attach the cover plate and test.

Note: With the gfci it is shipped in the off or test tripped position. which meant you will have to push the reset button once you have the power connected. in my case i got two green lights on the box.


DIY Dave (author)2009-01-10

great instuctable

in step 1 on the parts list you wrote GFI but I think you meant GFCI

BlackHatCracker (author)DIY Dave2009-04-14

From what I have found rewiring homes, and doing remodels, the GFCI are mainly Circuit Breakers that are in the panel. Where as the GFI are just plugs and they control and kill the power to any receptacle that is after that plug, and keeping the remaining outlets alive. The main difference that I have found between the GIF and the GFCI are that when I was doing outlets outside they were attached to the circuit breaker, and the GFI were just installed in the kitchen, bathrooms, and basement where there was wet locations. So all in all I would say that both of you are right.

merlin2049er (author)2009-01-16

ok, I must have purchased the wrong outdoor carlon box. I picked up a dual gang outdoor box 1/2" (with non threaded fitting). The hospital grade wattgate receptacles I purchased are too big for this box (the holes don't line up). :( I got a strain relief kit too , hopefully that works.

Lftndbt (author)2007-11-09

Any chance of a residual current device? Not sure if that's the right term in the US.. You know the thing that stop's me getting Zapped when I do something stupid... Like ... fall in the pool with the blower/vac... ;P

tstraub (author)Lftndbt2007-11-09

That's what the GFI(ground fault interrupter) outlet dose. If there is a current imbalance between the hot and neutral sides it shuts off.

Cyberscann54 (author)tstraub2007-11-09

yes the GFI will shut off anything plugged into it but if it falls in the pool with you it will kill you the power going to the unit wont shut off until it overloads the circuit breaker and in most homes thats at least 20amps get a GFI male plug if you plan on using it outside or near water

You are right about getting zapped. A GFCI won't prevent you from getting shocked but it will prevent you from being shocked longer. Use a GFCI breaker before you jump into the pool with an extension cord. Stuie25 I always pigtail my power and hook the outlets in parallel not daisy chained, that way both loads won't go down at the same time when the first one trips.

stuie25 (author)concretepaul2007-11-11

i thought about that but i thought it might work better if they both tripped out, that and i use the test button as a power right now. v2.0 will have a power switch

Derin (author)stuie252008-09-20

easy ,just use a 3 gang system with a wall switch

concretepaul (author)stuie252007-11-11

Just wondering, I made hundreds of these when I worked at a convention center, less the GFI. We simply called them quad boxes and they usually had 30ft. of #12(SO) cord attached.

static (author)Cyberscann542007-11-17

For use in outdoor or damp locations it may be best to build a simple quad box and plug it into a GFI protected recapticle . That way the entire assembly along with any thing plugged into it will be protected. A GFI plug in place of a standard plug on the cord would be trick and the most flexible, but they are expensive.


Crash2108 (author)tstraub2007-11-09


tstraub (author)tstraub2007-11-09

Looks like someone beat me to it. I guess I should have refreshed the page between singing up and posting.

FrenchCrawler (author)Lftndbt2007-11-09

The orange/red colored outlet is GFI which will trip if you do something stupid and is easily reset.

gilbert2048 (author)2008-08-23

looks great for a LAN hook up especially with the built in surge protection, no need to run a network cable with it you don't want them close to power. Maybe thinking about putting 3 of these together on a long cord.

stuie25 (author)gilbert20482008-08-24

i dont think you can get a three gang surface mount pvc box cause i have 10 tvss plugs that want to be put into something and i was thiking about building a bigger version as well

gilbert2048 (author)stuie252008-09-01

I meant building 3 separate boxes and weiring them up along a single cord
cord: = Box: ()() plug: (=


Derin (author)gilbert20482008-09-20


jongscx (author)2007-11-08

Now, how do I add ethernet and AC in one cable, so that I can have all-in-one lan nodes for my gaming parties?

gilbert2048 (author)jongscx2008-09-18

you could use a conduit coming out of the box and at the plug run the cat 5 out

kraM (author)jongscx2007-12-31

just an idea but coulden't e-tape the cables to each other?

acid-burn (author)jongscx2007-11-11

you shouldent, because it would overpower the cat 5e cable but they make box dividers for it, just use two cords taped at regular intervals togher to work.

dfc849 (author)acid-burn2007-11-16

I think he's talking about something like BPL (Broadband over Power Lines). It's not sticking AC into cat5, it's putting data through AC lines, since AC current and data travel at different frequencies, so no interference. I don't know much about this, and if any of that said above is wrong, please correct me.

jongscx (author)dfc8492007-11-16

No, it's basically having a multi-conductor, small-gauge wiring assembly running next to a 2-3 conductor, 12-ga wire, but all bundled together , so that I can have a remote box that has both a power connection AND ethernet connectivity AND a clean-looking cable connecting it to the wall socket...

dfc849 (author)jongscx2007-11-16

ooh.. sorry, my bad. yeah that sounds a little more professional than most replied ideas...

jongscx (author)acid-burn2007-11-11

Oh, heck yeah... I understand that I'm not supposed to run 120V AC current through an, what is that, a 24ga wire... I was wondering if it was possible to run a data cable next to an AC current and not have an appreciable amount of signal loss because of interference (without having to spend an arm and a foot for shielding...)

Possum Living (author)jongscx2007-11-15

You can get cable that has various numbers of small-gauge wire within a shield and a pair of 12 gauge or so outside the shield for power, all encased in an outer jacket. Belden makes some stuff like that. It's pricey though, $5/ft or more several years ago. Probably double that now. You would be better doing what most industrial users I've seen do: tape your cat 5 to your power line.

ah! thats the easiest thing in the world!!!! wrap the entire AC line in aluminum foil, and connect that foil to the Ground wire. this will effectively shield all EMF from interfering with the LAN line. oh by the way, I don't mean wrap the BARE AC wires......

lochlanmasters (author)jongscx2007-11-15

Saw this on today
Powerline network throws down the gauntlet on Ethernet, 802.11n at 400Mbps

wongsta (author)2007-11-09

My cheapo powerboard is so bad when i accidently kicked it my computer turned off

I've done that many, many times my friend. you are not alone.

i am a sparky and yea quad boxes are a common thing. but the daisy chain thing, its for safety. but if you want to do separate might as well put two gfi's in. or else all gained protection would be lost. so then just use two regular plugs , be cheep and burn down the house. or get electrocuted to death. also a quick note. gfi's are poliarty sensitive, so green to green, white to silver and black to black/dark screw. it will save your life.

static (author)acid-burn2007-11-17

The recepticle that is connected to the GFI equipped receptacle is protected as well. Generally the GFI receptacacle is the first device in a circuit so it can protect the remaining circuit. No need for two individual GFI equipped receptacles

jongscx (author)acid-burn2007-11-11

Can you just plug one with regular outlets into a GFCI outlet and still be safe?

jaime9999 (author)2007-11-15

Here's a tip: figure out a way to permanently mount a pair of double-sided velcro strips next to each outlet. That will give you a 'lock' to keep wall-wart transformers from disconnecting. In my homemade power strip, it was easy because I stapled the ends of the strips to the case underneath the cover plates.

dpocius (author)2007-11-15

I made one of these years ago using a cast-metal outdoor quad box with outlet covers and plain outlets (before GFCIs). Used it for building construction. Great to see the modern update! I may update mine as well.

FrenchCrawler (author)2007-11-09

Nice... I've done this before, but not so heavy duty. Now you should buy a single outlet box and attach it to the double. Then install a dimmer switch in the single so you can control the outlets' power. I did this for a single outlet... now I have a portable dimmer outlet (actually, I cut a hole through one of the sides of the plastic single outlet box and attached both of the components to the same box. The box was deep enough to make this possible).

carpespasm (author)FrenchCrawler2007-11-11

I bolted two three-gang boxes together to make a three outlet/dimmer version of this for my BandBlinder project. What do you use yours for?

FrenchCrawler (author)carpespasm2007-11-11

Various things such as a heat control for my 100 Watt soldering iron (used to do this, until I brought a good 30W one), testing out AC circuits (Vacuum motors, Air Conditioning fans, etc). Just the usual :)

jongscx (author)FrenchCrawler2007-11-11

Those things are only rated at 60-100W at most right? can you really use them to speed-control a vacuum cleaner motor?

FrenchCrawler (author)jongscx2007-11-12

I did... though I wouldn't recommend taking the motor out to do it. It's extremely loud (then again, I was in a small enclosed space). It will control the speed though. Not sure what they're rated at... didn't really bother to check. I think most are rated around 300-600W.

acid-burn (author)FrenchCrawler2007-11-11

you could by a triple box and save time, money and parts. i think it would look nicer too. but don't use a dimmer on a computer!!! or any electronics/ florescent lights. just use it on incandescent light bulbs/ lamps. a switch would be cool tho.

James (pseudo-geek) (author)2007-11-09

very well made!

AT (author)2007-11-09

I was going to do something along these lines until I thought about it too much. I was thinking about having one or more of the outlets on a switch, using a GFI, etc... Then I thought it would be cool to drop the switch and use the GFI test button for my on off.... Then I remembered buying a power bar with 6 outlets and a switch for $2 with a $2 rebate. That burst my bubble about making my own. But your instructable has inspired me to think about this once again.

robgonzo (author)2007-11-09

nice job! though, with that headline I expected to see something with granola and nuts. :)

zieak (author)robgonzo2007-11-09

Heehee! Me too - that's what i thought when i saw it on my RSS feed but then i checked the project out once i went to the main page.

firemanfu (author)zieak2007-11-09


Da_Fudge (author)2007-11-08

that is by far one of the most awesome things I have seen on this site.

VERY well done!!!

MumblingTuna (author)2007-11-08

why not just buy a power strip from homedepot for six bucks? am I being stupid?

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