Instructables

How to mount a power strip (and power bricks) under your desk

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Picture of How to mount a power strip (and power bricks) under your desk
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I was tired of looking at the nasty tangle of power cables and power strip under my desk. So after much deliberation I decided to mount as much as I could to the bottom of the desk. In a nutshell I found a regular wire basket, attached it to the bottom of my desk, and placed the powerstrip inside facing down so the outlets were still accessible along with all the power bricks I could get in there.

Below is a little before and after, I'm quite pleased with the results. Also, just for clarification, that big box under my desk is the subwoofer for my speakers.

DISCLAIMER: Use these instructions at your own risk. There is a risk of fire, electric shock, injury, and damage to your hardware. Be really careful.
 
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Step 1: Shop for Parts

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The parts you'll need are pretty modest.

1) A basket to contain all the power junk ($8-$12)
2) At least 4 mirror hangers or hooks ($2)
3) One screw for each hanger. ($1)

The Basket
- Make sure you get a basket that's big enough so that everything will fit with plenty of space on all sides. Make a list (with dimensions!) of all the stuff you want to get into the basket.
- Get a basket that's fairly open so that it's easy to pass wires through and it's easy to modify.
- I recommend a plastic basket that's sturdy but thin enough to cut with a sharp razor blade.
- I went with this little paper tray from The Container Store which was just the right size. However, I don't recommend using a metal basket. It's too easy for a plug to come into contact with the basket and risk an electric shock.

Mirror Hangers or Hooks
- Depending on the design of the basket mirror hangers or hooks should work really well for most people. Both make removing the basket pretty easy. With mirror hangers you can just rotate it out of the way, and hooks can be unhooked.
- 4 mirror hangers was enough for me, but if you go with a big basket, 6 or 8 might be better. The mirror hangers are really easy to install and make removing the basket really easy.
- Hooks are nice too because you can hang the basket easily. Also check out marcss method using hooks and chains to enable the basket to hinge open. Basket (Open), Basket (closed).

Step 2: Cut the Basket

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Next arrange the surge protector, cables, and power bricks in the tray and make sure they all fit. Then mark on the basket where to cut so that all the outlets are fully exposed.

Again, I recommend using a plastic basket to reduce the chance of electric shock. You can measure on the surge protector the area to cut out. Then mark the area using a marker and carefully cut it with a razor blade.

If you're using a metal basket, just cut the wires with a pair of pliers or wire cutters. For extra credit you can file down any sharp edges.

Step 3: Mount it

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Now it's finally time to mount the basket to the bottom of your desk. I choose to mount it right in the center, and pushed toward the back. That way it's nearly impossible to see it, and no matter where outlets are in relation to my desk it will always be equally far away from them...

I drilled pilot holes and then just screwed the mirror hangers in. And voila! The basket was mounted!

Caveats

When I marked where the hangers should go I didn't check to make sure there was actually an open spot in basket. As a result the hangers bumped right into part of the basket. So take this into account when you figure out where exactly to place the hangers.

Also, I'd recommend placing the hangers between wires of the basket, that will make it much harder for the basket to slide out if it were bumped.

Step 4: Place everything into the basket

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So now the fun part really begins, getting everything into the basket. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds. You'll have to unplug everything so that it's possible to easily pass the wires through. Also make sure that none of the plugs could become dislodged and come into contact with the metal basket. Be prepared to take some time arranging all the cables, frequently take a step back and make sure no cables are drooping into vision.If any cables do need to go to something on the floor (like my sub) hide them behind the legs of the desk.

Also, now that your power strip is off the floor, you might need an extension cord to get it to reach the nearest outlet.

Caveat
At some part along the way, I realized that the cable between the power brick for my speakers and the subwoofer wasn't actually that long. As a result, the speaker power brick couldn't go in the basket. So I'd recommend measuring the cables just to make sure they'll reach.

Step 5: Enjoy! Any Questions?

Picture of Enjoy! Any Questions?
Enjoy your new streamlined workspace, marvel at how easy it is to sweep under your desk and how much less dust collects. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Also, I'd love to see images of your own version of the project.

Here are some questions I've already gotten a lot:

Don't you bump your knees on the basket?
Nope, it's far enough back and high enough that I'd never bump it. This should be the case for most people. The arms from my chair don't touch it either.

Is it harder to plug stuff in?
Yeah, a little. But not much. If you frequently plug stuff in and out, this might not be the best thing for you. I have an extra AC adapter for my laptop that stays in my bag so pretty much everything stays plugged in.

What are those two cables that are still visible?
One is the power cable to the surge protector, the other one (right in the middle) is the speaker cable. I plan on replacing that with a bluetooth audio gateway in the near future.

How could you put holes into that beautiful Aalto table?
Yeah, yeah I know. I figured for me it was worth it. Besides it totally makes the table look nicer without all those cables.

Could this possibly be a fire hazard or damage my hardware?
It is possible. Use this information at your own risk. If any part you plan to place in the basket runs extremely hot (like too hot to touch) or is damaged in any way, do not attempt this project. I'm not an electrician nor am I an expert in the thermal requirements and behavior of power transformers. I was willing to attempt this because nothing I was going to place in the basket gets hot at all, and all the parts are in very good condition.
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bellyr689 months ago
Rather impressive article with some good points! I think all these information are very helpful also. Geek!
chr6 years ago
You can also buy a power strip with mounting holes on it. Nice instructable though :)
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pfred2 chr2 years ago
I've never seen a power strip without some provisions for mounting it. I must own about a dozen different ones too. They usually have slot holes in the back of them.
getgreg (author)  chr6 years ago
I responded to pretty much the same comment before (from "Flea" below). Just mounting the power strip to your desk doesn't give you a place to stash the power bricks or cables.
I did it, but i had some wire shelving fasteners and just screwed them directly to the bottom of my 1" thick plywood desk. I tried my best to make the layout so i could easily switch the power brick of to save energy. according to my watts-up-meter switching it off for the whole year would save me only $20 bucks, so i think i will only switch it off when i am on vacation.
jeremyreger6 years ago
I've gotta glass desk... have a solution for that?? :D I'm freekin' impressed.
SUGRU the basket to the bottom of the desk, you'll need to prop the basket for about 20 hours before romoving the prop and weighting it with all your cords and what not.
marcss6 years ago
I was inspired by this article, but I made a couple modifications: I opted for a larger basket and placed the power strip facing up. Second, I did not use mirror hangers for mounting the basket. In truth, I couldn't find the right kind right away, so I gave up and went with hooks. This gave me the idea to use some chains on the one side to allow the basket to swing open for access. I'm very happy with how it turned out. Images linked: Basket (Open)
Basket (Closed)
getgreg (author)  marcss6 years ago
Nicely done! Those hook and chains are really a fantastic idea! That makes it so much easier to arrange all the pieces inside. Also, I love that you were able to get your broadband modem (or is that a router?) in there. Great job all around!
marcss getgreg6 years ago
Thank you! That is my broadband modem. My wireless router is strapped to the bottom. Also, I forgot to mention that the basket I'm using is a dish rack I picked up at a local store.

Thanks again for a great article!
Tiggler marcss4 years ago
Brilliant both of you...  thank you!!
Hycro5 years ago
All my cords are behind my printer, computer, monitor, tuner, and amp for my mid-high range speakers, but they are a big mess behind my monitor, where they all connect to the power bar.
clemmonsm5 years ago
samssf5 years ago
Hi getgreg, would you mind sharing which desk you have and where you bought it? I've been searching my entire city for anything that's similar to yours... Mostly I just want a solid, 1"+ thick, light colored tabletop that I can use with some legs from Ikea. I know they have some decent desks, but I don't have an Ikea around here and shipping is too costly. Plus, most of their desks only have 3/4" tops I believe.
getgreg (author)  samssf5 years ago
Hi Samssf, My desk is actually an Aalto desk made by Artek. They're not so easy to find, and I don't think you can buy the top without the legs. You might look at a home improvement store (home depot, lowes) and just by a simple door. That works really well and they're plenty thick. Searching for "door desk" on google gave me lots of instructions and info.
alt_bob6 years ago
In "Make your own remote power switches by iwilltry on Aug 12, 2007in home & tech" it appears to be great way to get control of my printer, my zip drive, my etc. devices on a power strip up under desk separate from my battery - backup power supply that mostly just take power 20 plus hours per day. With the on/off light can hide the power strip and all the transformers and wires in basket as described in article "How to mount a power strip (and power bricks) under your desk by getgregon Nov 13, 2007in home."

Not fond of concept of taking control of individual outlets on a strip and agree with some of comments on settings, etc. for some units. But is a small step to be politically correct "green" and help get by until you youngster's out there start electing real representatives to take care of the country and not to just get re-elected and say things that make you feel good. Running the country takes hard decision that most likely will make at least half the people angry at first. But, you are the tide, I have to wait for the next ebb tide.
maowenjie6 years ago
power cordi thik is cool.
coronate6 years ago
This is only unsafe if you're completely careless (and soaking wet), which is true with EVERYTHING you handle that uses electricity.
This is a great simple instructable. I'm going to do this! Thanks getgreg!
evvo6 years ago
Regarding Glass Desks: I have seen kitchen organizer racks that, instead of sitting on a shelf or screwing onto a cabinet, slip over a shelf and provide hooks or storage below the shelf. A side view of the rack is a very uneven S shape. The top is deep but only about 3/4" tall so it fits snugly around a shelf. The bottom part of the S is the 'new' storage space. Regarding the Last Cable Visible in the picture: 3M makes some very nice cord clips in their "Command" product line that would do the job.
Crashmaxx6 years ago
This is a really nice idea and would be perfect for my desk right now. But it isn't my desk so I can't just drill holes in it, but the back has cork board and my monitor is so big if this was behind it you wouldn't see it. I have no idea how to attach this much weight to cork board though. So does anyone have any ideas how to attach this without wrecking the cork board?
krapnek6 years ago
I get your point of putting the bottom of the bricks against the desk, but since they're upside down, and hot air rises up, the heat has no natural way to dissipate.
getgreg (author)  krapnek6 years ago
Good point. I'll make some changes to the instructable.
ddschmitt6 years ago
it occurred to me when looking at your before and after that you should have gotten a bigger basket and put the sub-woofer in there too. but seriously - a much better solution. I hate the tangle of cords under my desk. it's a nightmare. I tried using sticky velcro to attach power strips to the underside of my desk and it worked for a while - then the tape started to let go. and every so often, they'd crash down and pull a peripheral with them. not a good solution. sigh. perhaps I'll try this?
MasamuneX6 years ago
Simple and clean. Nice. My problem is I have a couple of huge power bricks.
getgreg (author)  MasamuneX6 years ago
How huge? There's a link on step 1 to elfa baskets which come in lots of sizes.
Actually what I meant is that I have the AC adapters that plug straight into the wall. So I guess I would have to get a small extension cord so I can place it on the side like you did yours. Your setup made a world of a difference. It looks great.
Mr.Cire6 years ago
I have those speakers!
DeadlyDad6 years ago
I've seen versions using perf board, but I like the elegance of yours. I don't have any wire baskets, but I do have an old oven rack, some long cable ties, and cable tie mounts. Hmmmmm.....
chefmichel6 years ago
Great idea ! But who said "a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind"
getgreg (author)  chefmichel6 years ago
I don't know, but I bet whoever it was had a ridiculously clean desk. :)
luisrobles6 years ago
Very nice pal. Great work, and cheap too.
omnibot6 years ago
Amazing .. I have a tray like that sitting right next to me from my old fridge, was gonna throw it out. If I could only find a desk ..
jtcatchenco6 years ago
Awesome!
Mosselman6 years ago
Great instructable, very clear and the idea just speaks for itself basically. Although I think you didn't have a problem speaking for it either.
scottredd6 years ago
Very elegant. Nice work.
Darkshot6 years ago
does this hit your leg when you put your legs under the desk? cuz i dont like that sorta stuff..
Great Idea, I think I am going to try it since I have the worlds largest ball of spaghetti under my desk. Thanks
Doctor What6 years ago
Thanx for a great way to get rid of that tangled web. I'm gonna make one of these for my computer and my tv.
binary6 years ago
so simple, yet so effective. i think that i might actually put this instructable to use. thanks.
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