Introduction: IKEA Power Charging Box With Individual Switches

Picture of IKEA Power Charging Box With Individual Switches

So the other day I saw this instructable on how to make an easy power station using an IKEA box:

I definitely needed something similar, so I went and bought one of those boxes at IKEA, but it stood in my office for a couple of weeks. Last weekend I finally decided to have a go at it. One major difference I wanted for my charging station: the ability to turn off each power supply individually instead of having all on while charging a single device. That meant going to the electronic store and buy 4 switches (there were nicer models, but they didn't have 4 identical ones, so I just got these).

Total cost for the project: 11,24 Euros

Ikea box: 1,99 Euros
Ikea box lid: 1,25 Euros
4 switches: 4 x 1,00 Euros
4 plugs: 4 x 1,00 Euros

I believe I could have gotten the switches and plugs slightly cheaper if I had looked around.
The rest of the parts I had them at home. Should be fairly cheap ones anyway.

It's not absolutely finished. I still want to get a protective plastic part for the inside, just to prevent any accidental contact with the exposed connectors. Another possibility is to just use heat-shrink tubing, although it might be difficult to completely cover the connectors next to the wall.
For now I just know that I shall only remove the lid "locks" after disconnecting the power plug.
In the end, still a fairly easy and cheap project.

Step 1: The Parts

Picture of The Parts

- The original IKEA box and lid
- 4 power plugs
- 4 electrical switches
- electrical wiring
- connectors and "joiners" (if someone can give me the correct names I'll edit this. My mother tongue is not English... You can see some pictures of these in the next steps)

Step 2: Installing the Switches

Picture of Installing the Switches

After deciding on the right height position and dividing evenly the horizontal space, I marked the locations for the switches.

Using a cutter, I made the holes. Even if not perfectly cut, once inserted, the switch covers the sides and looks quite nice.

Here's how it looked:

Step 3: The Electrical Wiring

Picture of The Electrical Wiring

Unfortunately the picture is quite dark, but hopefully you can still see how I connected the different parts.

Pretty much it's just the 4 plugs connected in parallel, each having it's own switch.

Step 4: Connecting the Power Supplies

Picture of Connecting the Power Supplies

Here's how it looks with the power supplies inside.

As you can see, the switch connectors are exposed. I still want to get a protective cover for all those parts, if not, just use heat-shrinking tubing. For now I just have to remember to disconnect the main power supply before opening the box.

Step 5: Drilling the Lid

Picture of Drilling the Lid

In order for the box to close properly I had to make some holes for the cables to come up on the top of the box.
I could have just drilled a circle in the middle of the lid, but thought it would occupy to much space.
Therefore I decided to cut some holes on the edge. Now this was probably the most difficult part of the project. Not only it is in rather difficult place to cut properly (at least with the tools I had available), but it would also be showing.

After a first attempt just with the cutter, I ended up using my dremel to make it a bit better looking.
I'll have to take another picture from the opposite side in order to get a better view.

Step 6: The Final Result

Picture of The Final Result

Works just as planned!

As I've mentioned before, I still want to get a protective cover or use heat-shrinking tubing for the inside electrical parts, and I'm still checking if it will require any ventilation holes. So far it never got warm at all, but haven't had all the power supplies on for several hours for a proper test.


ac7ss (author)2010-05-18

Good 'ible. Add ons that could be worked into it: Shaped indentions for chargees, sensors (photo/pressure/magnetic) and SCR to turn on/off the plug, Indicator light for each item, small thermostatic fan perhaps.  On some items, the plug could be mounted in such a way as to make it a 'drop in charger'. I forsee making a modular system for myself (so that I can change to a new phone eventually.)

pwingert (author)ac7ss2016-02-28

Draft something in sketch up for 3d printing, I Sounds feasible.

pwingert (author)2016-02-28

The Connectors are usually called splices. I usually use self criming butt splicesfor wire joining

Hagland (author)2010-06-16

Do you have a link to where you can buy the switches and the connectors and joiners?

fgm2000 (author)2010-04-06

Hi... I seem to have trouble looking at your connection on how to parallel - can anyone send me a schematic or a good explanation on how to do this - thanks!

afischer15 (author)2009-05-22

the "original Ikea box" is the SLUGIS box, correct?
The box is at this link:
and the lid:

BlackHatCracker (author)2009-03-27

Ok the correct term that you are looking for is Quick Connects. They come in I think 4 different sizes and according to wire size also. Maybe more depending on what you are doing... Most are going to use the blue connectors.

jongscx (author)2007-09-24

How hard would it be to add an LED to show the state of the switch, like on/off... I know it's not that hard to just take a look at it, but hey: Everything is better with LEDs. (it's a healthy obsession... really...) Now, another idea would be to 1) use close-cell foam and cut out a nest for each device, then 2) use a pressure switch, so that it will only charge when the device is in the cradle, making it a smart-dock of sorts. you should probobly keep the front switches too, so that you can prevent leeching when it's fully charged.

ChandraW (author)jongscx2008-02-03

I actually installed an LED on my tub so I could tell when I was full. I kept shorting out tho. boo :\

Goodhart (author)ChandraW2008-11-12

Sounds like an isolation problem :-)

Punkguyta (author)jongscx2007-09-24

Adding a led per switch probably wouldn't be difficult at all, a led and a big ass resistor added inline with the positive lead coming off the switch, I would imagine it's that simple. Or even better yet, buy rocker switches with lights inside them.

jongscx (author)Punkguyta2007-09-25

I just realized they had switches with the light around the rim or in it and thwacked meself in the face. Now, how to make it shut off automatically...

Punkguyta (author)jongscx2007-09-25

Connect a 24 hour wall timer to the wall and then plug the box into that, but that wouldn't work too well now would it? If you had more circuit building skills, you could probably make an auto sensing circuit that would be able to tell when a charger stops drawing a certain amount of current (which you could have an adjustable threshold).

jongscx (author)Punkguyta2007-09-25

I was thinking about how to do that easily, but couldn't think of any ways...

11010010110 (author)jongscx2008-10-18

charger heats more when charging - use thermal probe

Padlock (author)110100101102008-10-18

(Correct me if I'm wrong,) A thermal probe would require a micro-controller, or a transistor that would have to be specifically tailored for the job when the thermistor drops below/goes above the specified resistance. This would also be hard because most thermistors are non-linear, so you would pretty much have to have a micro-controller. A much simpler solution (Again, I'm not sure if this will work with every type of battery. It did with mine) would be to add a relay in line with the power cord, so when the battery (device) connects, it closes the circut, turning on the relay. You would need a low voltage relay, and wouldn't work if your battery (device) is completely dead, or cannot send its charge back out. This, (most likely) will only work with simple devices like NiMH batteries.I would not try this with an iPhone, though.

11010010110 (author)Padlock2008-10-19

thermal probe from a fridge is electrically thing with 2 wires and thats all. its probe (metallic baloon on thin pipe that looks like wire) is based on gas expansion in temperature and not electronics. it can be hacked to switch at high temperatures like 30 - 40 C with the relay on battery - it should work for turn on (what my thing with the thermal probe does not) but you need to make it somehow shut down on its own. without this the relay just continues to work on the charged battery + on the charger itself after you remove the battery (unless its pulsing charger) it may affect battery charging - when battery becomes close to 90 - 100 % the charge current drops and the relay current rises (with the voltage on the battery). if the currents become equal the battery wont charge any higher above this point (all what the charger gives goes to the relay) what you could do reliably with relay is monitor the current the chargers draw on the 240 V side. and still you need kind of start button as with the thermal probe i think the current monitoring with relay is the best solution here

Padlock (author)110100101102008-10-19

The "electrically thing" is a thermistor. True to its name, it is a resistor that changes resistance based on the temperature. It is not based on gas expansion. It is based on the properties of a material having different resistance at different temperatures. And it can not be hacked. You can not "hack" a piece of ceramic/polymer with two wires attached to it. And most chargers these days have sensors that detect when the battery (device) is charged, so over-charging and explosions don't happen.

11010010110 (author)Padlock2008-10-19

its not resistor. its mechanical on off switch its made like this : sealed baloon (the probe) is connected thru very thin pipe (1 mm external diameter) to pressure sensor. the pressure sensor is a mechanical electrical switch when temperature changes at the probe (here is most of the trapped air located so its the most sesitive part) it changes the pressure of air (i think its air) and the switch reacts as any switch its connected in series with the charger withou any additional electronics

PROD (author)jongscx2007-09-25

You just made me think of a version using kitchen timers in place of the switches... LOL

11010010110 (author)jongscx2008-10-18

there are switches with red and fake green (actually its red too) neon lamps inside maybe they can be changed to leds (of any color) if led can hold -310 v without damage but then its gonna flicker more

Padlock (author)110100101102008-10-18

-310 volts? Where, in the world, did you get that?

rocketman221 (author)jongscx2008-10-18

I would recommend neon assemblies like these
they are made for line voltage and they would mount in the box nicely.
just connect one wire to neutral and the other to the hot line that goes to the outlet.

PROD (author)jongscx2007-09-25

I did consider using LED ones, but the store did not have 4 identical ones. Additionally the ones I saw require an third electrical wire to be used, and I didn't feel like it would justify the extra work. Actually there were some switches that would just have the top part painted in red, such that when they are in the position as shown in the picture you see the red part (representing ON), and if you press the switch, the red part goes in, presumably off... I've actually made my switches work the opposite way... On the other idea, wouldn't the cell foam be dangerous from a heat perspective? The pressure switch would be cool though!

jongscx (author)PROD2007-09-25

I don't think your devices would get that hot... cell-phones and mp3 at least. Maybe PDAs and PSP, haven't really run into that problem. What I was getting at with the foam was to make a little nook for the device to sit in, Also, even if the box is moved around, the things on top will stay still...

ssdietsch (author)2008-10-22

how many devices do you have converting 220v (ac) to 5v (dc)? in this world where everything has a usb2 charging adapter i find that almost everything can be charged through a usb hub - that's just one ac adapter or just your computer if it's on often enough. trust me, an online retailer has a usb charging adapter even for your usb charging adapter.

christophor (author)2008-10-21

I love this idea. It would be even cooler in a wooden box or something that looks like furniture. My wife wouldn't let me get away with a white plastic box unless I hide it. Then what's the point? LOL Great idea. Great job. Thanks for the inspiration!

christophor (author)2008-10-21

That link doesn't lead to the iPhone solar panel. Do you have another link? I'd like to see that.

rocketman221 (author)2008-10-18

I would recommend putting some ventilation slots in the box some of those adapters get quite hot.

MixMasterM (author)2007-09-24

Those crimp-on connectors are sometimes referred to as "quick disconnects" or just "male/female crimp connectors". They are commonly available (in the US, at least) in home improvement stores and automotive parts stores. You can usually buy a low-end/low-cost bundle that has a cheap crimping tool and an assortment of the connectors. You can also buy single boxes of just the male or female connectors (my preference since many of the connectors in the starter kits are not that useful). This project is a neat idea - thanks for sharing. I might have to build something similar just so I can keep all my chargers and stuff organized and get rid of the rats-nest of wires!

dchall8 (author)MixMasterM2008-10-18

In the US we use twist on wire connectors rather than crimps. I've always called them "wire nuts" but they probably go by other names.

technodude92 (author)2008-09-16

One suggestion though. I would recomend some isolation between the switch and mains(110, 120, 220, 240, ...) power. An optoisolator switching a relay would be ideal but just a relay would suffice. The more between you and mains power, though, the better.

tinman01 (author)2008-05-11

Question for those with a greater knowledge of US AC power than I have. I would love to do something like this but I don't want to nuke my devices or burn my house down. Is there a guide out there to help me design this, calculate load, heat generation, fusing etc?

technodude92 (author)tinman012008-09-16

In the US, 2 wires supply 60hz 120 volts AC power. One of those wires is called "hot" and the other "neutral". The hot carries the actual AC voltage and the neutral is the return(essentially ground). In polarized American power outlets, the wider slot is "neutral" and the other slot is "hot". When you choose the cable that leads out of the box, make sure it is polarized. i.e. one blade wider than the other. That way, you can make sure you are wiring the internal outlets correctly. The outlets you buy will most likely have the terminals marked so you know where to connect the wires. as far as fusing, most outlets in the US are rated at 15 amps, which means you should divide 15 by the number of outlets you will have. For example, 15 amps for 4 outlets gives me 3.75 amps per outlet. I don't think fusing the individual outlets is necessary though and the outlet should have a breaker on it set to trip at 15 amps. If you can keep you "hot" and "neutral" straight, you wont fry your devices. if your wall outlet was wired incorrectly, thats your electricians fault, not mine or PROD's.

R4Man18 (author)2008-02-15

that must generate some heat. do you plan to use some fans to cool it or sit by it in the winter? cool idea, interesting idea.

Punkguyta (author)2007-09-24

I think this is really neat, but I've never agreed with the whole electrical system you guys have over there, ya a giant two prong plug, I can imagine how nice it is to step on one of those.

jongscx (author)Punkguyta2007-09-25

yeah, personally, I'm for having a Giant buzzing Tesla coil in my neighborhood and transmitting energy wirelessly like that...

ChandraW (author)jongscx2008-02-03

omg i actually utubed tesla coils tonight just out of the blue. the thought that you could actually reproduce MUSIC with an electrical arc blew me away

Vermin (author)Punkguyta2007-09-27

Totally agree. Australian/Pacific plugs are the sexiest. :)

PROD (author)Punkguyta2007-09-25

Why do you call it "giant"? It is pretty much the same size as a US one... Considering that the pins are round, if you were to step on one (assuming it would be lying flat) you probably feel it less than a US one.

turkey tek (author)2007-09-27

here is a nice discussion of how much power chargers use when not connected to a device:

phone chargers

i also highly recommend his online book:

Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

for any one who is interested in learning facts about energy consumption and generation without the politics. written in the style and clarity than only a professor of physics can muster. some real gems too, like how many kwh per day your cat consumes.

ChandraW (author)turkey tek2008-02-03

WOW! That thread was really eye-opening. The way the local news story made it sound...I guess they just have to find SOMEthing to keep us worried with each day, don't they

trebuchet03 (author)turkey tek2007-09-29

Ha! I've been collecting long term data on phone chargers, laptop bricks, etc. etc. - all while not in use. I have similar results... The killawatt is going to take a little longer to pay for itself :/

incorrigible packrat (author)2007-11-26

Do the connectors for the devices fall down through the holes in the lid, when not plugged into the device? If so, the installation of some sort of plastic grommet would prevent this. Then the connector would just sit at the edge of the hole, when not in use. It might be a good plan anyhow, as the edge of the holes in the lid could conceivably wear or cut the sheathing of the device cables. As for status indicator lights, I would eschew led's for neon bulbs (at least for line voltage applications). They usually come equipped with a limiting resistor, don't use much more power than an led (probably less in this case, 'cause you would need either a huge resistor or another transformer to step down the line voltage for an led), and they give off a cheery orange glow, that I find aesthetically pleasing. I get all kinds of panel indicator lights off of defunct electric stoves. I also come across dandy power switches (some of them illuminated) in plugged up drip coffee makers.

sarahbopp (author)2007-10-05

I'm all about making stuff myself, but this might even be cheaper - it might be cheaply made too.

osvikvi (author)2007-09-28

Ok, it's a good idea, but what about heat? Some chargers can become verry hot and can cause the box to melt, or worse....

edwardchen (author)2007-09-27

You could easily add a PIC to control the timing time, complete with LEDs. I'm thinking an 16F864, with a single throw, single pole switch for each device connected to a 5v power source. Have the switches connected to the state change interrupts of the PIC that initiates the timer when it changes and notices that the input is on. You could program in a certain time for the output, connected to a relay (through a transistor/protection diode, of course) controlling the mains to your device. When it's done counting up, it disconnects the power. Cycling the power switch should start the timer again.

edwardchen (author)edwardchen2007-09-27

Oh, yeah, and of course, you could have an LED indicating it is still charging :) But then again, adding a small 5v adapter would negate leaving one of your adapters plugged in all the time (even though the PIC would draw very very little power, especially with a slow oscillator).

PROD (author)2007-09-25

It is not just in the EU. That type of plug is used around the world.

Look at for some images (the very first is the type you refer to), along with some maps showing which plugs are used where.

Punkguyta (author)PROD2007-09-25

Well the thing is like an inch wide, where as a US plug is half inch? So if it were standing on edge, and you stepped on it, it would hurt, or if the prongs were sticking up. What's the point of having round prongs anyways?

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