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Ask Slashdot: Wiring Home Furniture?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the for-a-couch-that-seats-1 dept.

Hardware Hacking 235

b1tbkt writes "So it seems that furniture manufacturers have not yet acknowledged the realities of modern life. Kitchen tables could benefit greatly from built-in concealable receptacles. Even more obvious is the need for electrical wiring in couches and coffee tables. I realize that there are safety (fire) concerns but as it stands most families that I know already have power cords for laptops, tables and phones draped over, under and through their couches at any given point. If someone wanted to wire their furniture with AC or some type of standardized LV DC system, what are some dangers to watch for and what, if any, specialized hardware exists for the purpose?"

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Easy (4, Informative)

genka (148122) | about a year ago | (#43771063)

Google "countertop pop up receptacle" and you'll find many choices.

Re:Easy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771131)

Google "countertop pop up receptacle" and you'll find many choices.

Too bad the top 5 results are for link farm crap, and the sixth is for this very article...

Then again, I included the quotes. Without them, the query is much more fruitful.

Re: Easy (2)

Fjandr (66656) | about a year ago | (#43771479)

Mockett has been producing products like that for years. Not identical, but designed to be built into furniture.

Re: Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771615)

$50 for an outlet?!?!!? Are they insane?

Re: Easy (1)

muridae (966931) | about a year ago | (#43771723)

Not even an outlet, just an extension cord and surge protector shaped like 2 outlets.

I've got a surge protector under my desk that cost less (and one behind the tv, and . . .) came with more outlets, and USB plugs, a known rating for maximum surge stopped, and it even has fairly standard holes on the back to mount to exposed screw heads. Like telephones, surge protectors have has these holes on them for years; people just don't use them for mounting purposes.

Re: Easy (5, Interesting)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about a year ago | (#43771729)

I use a similar, but cheaper, soulution. I bought ordinary power strips that have little holes in both ends (for hanging from hooks, etc). Then I attached them with screws to the underside of my desk and kitchen worktable. There, they are always within reach, while out of sight and safe from spilled liquids.

Re: Easy (1)

ryanov (193048) | about a year ago | (#43771861)

Was going to post that link. It's a friend of a friend's project. It doesn't perfectly solve the problem, but it's getting there.

Re:Easy (1)

IICV (652597) | about a year ago | (#43771229)

Those would be terrible in practice though - crud would accumulate in the ridges, and it would get in the way when you want to do something wherever it is.

Flush ones would be the way to go.

Re:Easy (4, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | about a year ago | (#43771325)

Counter top outlets in general are a bad idea.. If they're on the surface, they're bound to get something down in them.

Every kitchen I've seen has plenty of outlets along the walls, and some on the vertical side of cabinets...

As for sitting furniture, it's an amazingly bad idea. I'm just picturing a couch.. Kids spilling drinks. The dog pissing on it. Toddlers finding amazing new places to stick metal objects. Hell, drunk friends spilling drinks on them while watching football or in the case of this audience, playing a heated game of D&D.

If there isn't a wall outlet close enough to where you (he) wants them, have one installed. Contractors are more than happy to install anything you want within the guidelines of local building codes.

For the furniture manufacturers, they become stupid additions to their line. If they sell internationally, they'd need to offer all the different outlets. If the consumer chooses not to use them, now the customers have the annoyance of dead outlets.

For movers, they no longer are just skilled at moving heavy objects from Point A to Point B, they have to be electricians. That's assuming they're to be hard wired, and not just plugged in somewhere.

And never leave it to the consumer to consider the total power load on a circuit, they'll always get it wrong.. I can just imagine an entire livingroom with a couch, loveseat, and other assorted chairs, all plugged into one outlet strip on one socket, with god knows what plugged into every outlet. They already fuck it up bad enough with chained outlet strips on poorly designed home wiring..

When we have some extra cash to bring a contractor in, we're going to have a good bit of our home rewired. Despite a couple dozen circuit breakers in the box, half the house is on one circuit. At least we're aware of it, and are careful not to overload it. As I've found over the years, this is normal. It's like the construction crew waits for the inspector to sign off on the electrical, and then throws everything else on one long circuit.

Re:Easy (4, Funny)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43771359)

As for sitting furniture, it's an amazingly bad idea. I'm just picturing a couch.. Kids spilling drinks. The dog pissing on it.

The kids will never learn, but I wager the dog won't piss on it more than once.

Re:Easy (3, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43771663)

The kids will never learn, but I wager the dog won't piss on it more than once.

Yeah, but how is the dog supposed to pass that knowledge onto its successor?

Re:Easy (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#43771373)

Well - then you just build a GFCI into the thing and call it a day.

Personally I'd think a 20VDC outlet would satisfy power needs for most laptops out there. Or if you wanted to be really safe, require laptops to run on 5VDC. Then you could just use a USB style charger. Granted you'd have to up the current limit.

Re:Easy (4, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43771509)

GFCI does okay until the entire outlet is soaked. Then it's useless as fuck for protection.

I can see these mounted on a couch or table getting fully-soaked no problem.

Re:Easy (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about a year ago | (#43771403)

Yes, and that's why they got taken out of the electrical code a long time ago.

That's why outlets are supposed to be every six feet, so you're not running cords under all the furniture.

Re:Easy (5, Funny)

CyberTech (141565) | about a year ago | (#43771541)

Outlets are supposed to be every 12 feet, not 6 -- that's the same "thinko" i did while building (self) my house. The code actually says no more than 6 feet along any wall (i think the wall has to be 4 feet or longer) to a receptacle. This has the goal of making appliances with 6 foot cords work from any point along the wall.

When I built my house, I was frustrated with my previous 1960's house that had 2 receptacles per room. I said, hell with it, code says 6 feet, I'll make it 4. Note that thinking CORRECTLY, that would have made it 8 feet between outlets.

It wasn't until I had run wire and boxes to 3 rooms that I realized I'd been wiring for 4 feet between boxes. I laughed my ass off and said fuck it, wired the entire house that way... 115 receptacles later, I was done :)


Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771605)

... outlets are supposed to be every six feet ...

Within six feet of any given point along a wall, which is a slightly different thing. Although if you were to look at my house, you might think the rule was every four feet - at least until you got to the rooms I haven't worked on.

Re:Easy (3)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | about a year ago | (#43771443)

Mod parent up. I work with licensed sound engineers, gaffers, and A/V techs all the time...we get loads wrong all the time, and we're trying to do it right.

Either "electric furniture" is your new business model (yikes!) or don't do it, ever.

Re:Easy (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43771511)

"I work with licensed sound engineers, gaffers, and A/V techs all the time...we get loads wrong all the time, and we're trying to do it right."

You're working with the wrong people, for one, for load balancing.

They're called ELECTRICIANS - something your sound engies, gaffers, and A/V techs very likely don't hold a certification for, let alone completed their journeyman's studies and time.

Re:Easy (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | about a year ago | (#43771661)

You're completely right-- and sometimes it's a real bummer when we show up at the place (stadium, concert hall, ballroom, corn field, whatevs) and all the info we need to set up boils down to "isn't that a power outlet over there? It is! Good luck!"

Hence, the comparison to someone getting back from Ikea with an electric couch and setting it up with... instructions in Swedish?.

Re:Easy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771333)

Yeah, we should actually just stop thinking altogether and let google take over. I really despise this "just google it" shit. But I guess it at least lets those who say it feel brilliant for a few seconds, and that's a sweet thing.

Re:Easy (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43771741)

Yeah, we should actually just stop thinking altogether and let google take over

Google "Google's plan to take over the world" and you'll find much information.

Re:Easy (4, Funny)

Shompol (1690084) | about a year ago | (#43771385)

Seeing how I always have water spilled in the countertops (both kitchen and bathroom), I dub these "personal electrocution device"

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771565)

This is very easy. There are a few key points.

1. Use a GFCI outlet (ground fault current interrupter). This will keep you safe in the event of spillage or overdraw, and prevent fires.

2. Use oversized wire that will support everything you could possibly imagine running on it.

3. Insulate the wire properly. Use proper boxes and make sure there is no chance of any exposed connectors.

4. Use common sense. Don't put the outlet in a place or direction where it will be easy to break. Don't run your wire right next to moving parts where it could be cut or shorted out.

Re:Easy (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about a year ago | (#43771757)

Or just stop buying laptops, cell phones and tablets with crappy battery life. This is what happens when people buy 17" laptops with quadcore CPUs, power-sucking dedicated graphics and end up wanting to use them on the couch... or when they buy a tablet with less than 8 hours of battery life. It just shouldn't be done...

Re:Easy (1)

cgenman (325138) | about a year ago | (#43771791)

They all have crappy battery life. It may start at 8 hours, but after a year it'll be down to 1 hour.

Most of my friends have viable home laptops with no remaining battery of which to speak. And these were solid industrial models. Does that mean the whole thing should be thrown out and replaced?

Re:Easy (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about a year ago | (#43771849)

"They all have crappy battery life. It may start at 8 hours, but after a year it'll be down to 1 hour."

Now that's a huge exaggeration... I've had my Galaxy Nexus for about a year, and the battery life has not been diminished significantly.

"Most of my friends have viable home laptops with no remaining battery of which to speak. And these were solid industrial models. Does that mean the whole thing should be thrown out and replaced?"

Just stick in a new battery... that's the whole point of buying "solid industrial models" with easily replaceable batteries.

And a laptop with no remaining battery is not in any way shape or form "viable" as a laptop.

A few things to watch out for (5, Informative)

Jason Lindberg (2927207) | about a year ago | (#43771065)

The engineering problems that present themselves with wiring something that has mechanical components adjacent to or in direct connection to electrical wiring is protecting the cable from being damaged and heat generation. This can mean armored cables or flexible conduits, e-chain (for repetitive motion), or other cable management systems. If you are running any electricity though flammable materials then you need to be concerned about the amperage you pull through it and be mindful of how much it heats up as a regular and peak load. This is very important to be mindful of because a conductor may be rated for a certain amperage but at what temp? Make sure that temp is compatible with the rest of the construction materials involved in your furniture. A larger conductor would mean less heat as it passes an equivalent amount of current to a lower gauge of conductor.

Re:A few things to watch out for (5, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#43771165)

Heats not really a concern as far as flamability, even a 25A 208V circuit pulling 120% of rated load doesn't get over 110F (don't ask how I know this). The only way you're going to introduce enough heat energy to cause something to burn (especially furniture which is doused in flame-retardant chemicals thanks to smokers) is to short something out, so your comments about making sure that chords are protected is spot on.

Re:A few things to watch out for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771185)

How do you know this?

Re:A few things to watch out for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771253)

I know this one...

Due to frequent failures, damaged disks, damaged monitors, I got to monitor some equipment...

Electricians do make mistakes - such as wiring ground circuits to steel support beams... which don't necessarily (and even when they are) get grounded. Worked fine for almost a year.

Totally independent work (which happened to be adding an extension to some steel framing across the room) I spotted the failure while it was failing... and actually heard the spitting of the arc welder at the same time as the equipment blew up again.

It also didn't get fixed until I pointed out the same thing could happen to a 20 million dollar machine installed between where the work was being done and the bad circuit - when lightning strikes.

The problem with putting electrical wiring in things like kitchen tables is that you cannot trust the wiring that kitchen table is plugged into... Having a table circuit melt in a lightning strike is bad enough - I don't think the UL evaluators would accept it very well, and building codes certainly wouldn't like it.

Re:A few things to watch out for (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about a year ago | (#43771351)

building codes certainly wouldn't like it

That's the big one... Your local building code is almost certainly not identical to mine. Well, unless you live within just a few miles. There are federal, state, county, and sometimes city codes.

If you look at the instructions for anything electrical at home improvement stores, there's always a blurb that says have a local contractor who knows the local codes do the install.

There was a particular type of insulation I was using for a project. It was a roll of foil faced fiberglass. I moved about 20 miles, and couldn't find it at the stores in the new area. As it turns out, it's against code there, but was fine in the other one..

I also noticed that the blue EPS board wasn't stocked in that store. They told me local codes changed, and it was no longer permitted. That stuff was great for some projects.

Re:A few things to watch out for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771221)

But temps are a concern, due to the rating on the wire itself. NEC code is based upon operation at 30 C (86 F). 110 F means exceeding the rating for the wiring insulation. Obviously when able to dissipate heat to the air you didn't get it hot enough to melt the insulation and start shorting, but if you encase that wire in thermally insulating foam it will get much hotter.

I've seen extension cords begin to melt, even in open air, due to exceeding rated current capacity (please people, don't put space heaters on any extension cord if you aren't certain of the rating). I once saw an LED rope light melt through closed cell foam when it was accidentally covered. Those are obviously cases of stupidity, but it's worth carefully considering every aspect of your wiring when it's not a standard application.

Re:A few things to watch out for (4, Informative)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#43771389)

Yeah - I've had an extension cord rated for 20A break down at 15A draw. So even the rating is a little suspect.

Re:A few things to watch out for (4, Funny)

feepness (543479) | about a year ago | (#43771345)

, so your comments about making sure that chords are protected is spot on. I've found E, A, and B are good power chords, but they only heat up if you use a wah-wah pedal.

Re:A few things to watch out for (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43771427)

Heh, try pulling that kind of amperage through a cheapo 18-AWG extension cord and I think you'll find that heat very quickly becomes an issue, and with only a little patience you'll have your even more exciting short-circuit to deal with.

Which leads to my own bit of advice - if you're going to stick a cable inside a piece of furniture where you can't monitor it for developing flaws, make sure to use a much thicker cable than you think you'll ever need, because sooner or later somebody is going to plug in an electric heater or something, and even if a small cable doesn't cause immediate problems the heat will weaken the insulation dramatically. If you want to be really safe and the wiring won't have to flex after installation you might even want to consider Romex (house wiring cable) - solid-core wiring is much more conductive at a given size. At that point any fire is as likely to be in your wall as your furniture, and your house's circuit breaker should pop before you can do any real damage to anything.

Re:A few things to watch out for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771863)

solid core wire has less surface area and is less conductive then stranded wire
by almost a entire wire size

a damaged stranded wire will contuinue to work but will cause heat leading to other issuses
a damaged solidcore wire with heat uo worse if it conitues to work but is more likely to fail entirly
romex is a bad idea for anything other than in walls

they make heavy cab tire cables and armoured stuff for a reason

Re:A few things to watch out for (5, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year ago | (#43771467)

That's only when everything is in good condition. Lot of house fires are started by degraded wiring. Anything that thins the conductive material or loosens a connection can increase the resistance at that spot so it will get hot enough to start a fire the next time someone uses a power hungry device such as a vacuum cleaner. As long as there's nothing flammable nearby, it may not cause any harm, but if this wiring is in a couch, could be a serious problem.

All kinds of things can degrade the wiring. Ants, especially fire ants and now these crazy ants can chew the insulation, and build nests. I've seen an outlet stop working because the home's foundation had cracked, and shifted the walls enough to pull the wires out of the receptacles on the outlet. Also, builders almost always do the cheapest, shoddy electrical work code and inspectors allow them to get away with. Fortunately code is pretty strict these days, but it wasn't always. Then there's the do-it-yourself home owner who is completely ignorant of code and decides to add some extra lighting or a ceiling fan. Must watch out for older homes. One will find circuit breakers that were poorly designed (Stab-Lok models, for instance), outlets that were never properly grounded or that are near sinks and bathtubs and lacking GFI, and wiring run sideways through the walls or that has no slack or is too close to something else such as a fireplace's chimney.

If we want to wire up furniture, it will take some effort to do it safely. We've dealt with safety by simply keeping electricity away from flammable material and water.

Re:A few things to watch out for (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#43771183)

And you expect a run-of-the-mill furniture supplier to be good at this for what reason?

Look, this has its place and maybe will dominate the future --- just lay off the Amish guy and quit giving him grief because your footstool doesn't have USB. Keep it reasonable, you want an iChair? Bother Apple or Google.

Re:A few things to watch out for (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43771263)

Furniture like this does exist. Last time I was shopping for furniture, about a year ago, I saw sofas and armchairs with power. I have also seen table in all different sizes with center power strips and pop up power, with internet connections. Anyone who has been to college within the past 10 or 15 years is familiar with these. 30 years ago we owned an easy chair with a telephone and remote built into it. I thought it was cool.

That said there are many reasons why such things would not be standard. First is reliability. While furniture is often warranted for 5 years, electrical components is warranted are generally warranted for a year. This adds complexity and uncertainty. Also, furniture, even for Ikea, is meant to last for years. After 10 years, such configurations may seem antiquated and uncool, like a formica top.

Then there are liability issues that will occur when someone hooks up a power strip to the table. Sure fuses and the like can reduce the risk of fire, but it will only take one to bankrupt the company. So there is a non trivial risk.

So I would retrofit. Fot table conduit and hole saws will put as many sockets as you want. For sofas maybe just use a glue gun to attach a power strip to the bottom?

Re: A few things to watch out for (1)

John Howell (2861885) | about a year ago | (#43771315)

for my desk at home, I simply took a blank wall plate fitted 4 USB cables. Cut a hole in the desk surface off to one side and mounted the plate. The USB cables then go back to an active USB hub mounted under the desk. My MAc Mini is held in place with a bracket under there too, with a circular port at the rear to bring cables up onto the desk. Ive got a USB superdrive uder the stand of my monitor, and keyboard and mous are cordless. The number of people who have simply thought the superdrive awas a new Mac is just rediculous 8)

Try a two terminal current limiting analog device (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771067)

...I think it's also known as a fuse.

Re:Try a two terminal current limiting analog devi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771777)

Is this any relation to the RElative Surge Inductive ShunT Operative Reactors with the 3 or 4-color bands on them?

USB (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771069)

Replace one of your current power receptacles with one that does USB also. Those should have GFCI and other good stuff built into them. Now wire those USBs into your furniture. If you want to charge your laptop, etc then plug it into a wall. Not worth sacrificing good chargers that get nice and hot for the slight convenience factor.

UL listed couches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771073)

Quite frankly I don't see furniture manufacturers wanting to go through UL testing and all that jazz just to provide you with power you could get from an extension cord. Though USB power on a coffee table might be nice.

interested party (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771075)

Do to the safety hazards law suits that stop all the fun, the reality is there is probably not going to be a jetsons reality that we will have furniture with wires connected to your couch seems a little silly when you think about it.

Obvious need for couch wiring? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771083)

Please elaborate.

Re:Obvious need for couch wiring? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43771233)

Please elaborate.

I'll take a wild guess: making your couch able to deliver a disabling high voltage shock (possible remoted over internet) just in case there's a break-in and the burglar sits on the couch (may also work fine for the case one's teenage kids bring their GF/BF when one's not at home and attempting someone doesn't approve).
Let me think... I reckon this pertains to the "in-depth security" topic (like in "implementing your defense under the depth of the couch's upholstery/pillows") - one can never be too cautious during these "war of terror", "think of the kids" and "guns control" times.

Of course, once one has this in place, the one will need to wire the other furniture, at least to support some hidden cameras/microphones.
Alternatively, one can subcontract the extension to the 3-letter-agencies... or, /. seems to suggest [slashdot.org], Google.

Re:Obvious need for couch wiring? (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about a year ago | (#43771613)

Also: Helping natural selection work.

Re:Obvious need for couch wiring? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43771759)

Also: Helping natural selection work.

Only if it happens before beta test stage. Otherwise, chances are stacked against victims that may not warrant an "early retirement from the evolution cycle".

office furniture (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771091)

The hardware exists for office furniture - look up all the different connectors/docks/ you can get for desks and boardroom tables

like these: http://elsafe.com.au/?Itemid=8

Torts lawyers would greatly benefit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771099)

Litigators in particular would find preinstallation of electrical wiring in living room furniture to be an impressive development in commerce. You'd probably get feature articles here. [americanlawyer.com]

Re:Torts lawyers would greatly benefit (4, Informative)

pyro_peter_911 (447333) | about a year ago | (#43771201)

There's plenty of powered furniture available, and has been for decades. Those crazy "As Seen On TV" powered folding beds have been around for ages. My new couch has push button electric recliners. Most cars today have powered seats; many of those electrically heated.
The problem I'd have with furniture based power supplies is similar to the problem I have with built in electronics and adapters in vehicles. The lifetime of my furniture and vehicles greatly exceeds the probable lifetime of any consumer electronics power adapter installed in it. I used to work at a high end auto dealership. I installed dozens of iPod adapters (at around $400 a shot. Insanity!) and all of those adapters are worthless to the new generation of i devices that these customers are likely to have. Some of my customers had older vehicles with build in analog cell phones which are now junk that just rides around with them.
Furniture is even worse. Decent furniture should last a lifetime. By putting a consumer electronics power port into a piece of furniture you're basically admitting that it's going to be trash in less than 10 years.

Re:Torts lawyers would greatly benefit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771283)

I'm pretty sure some of the fancy La-Z-Boy type things have 110V outlets.

Re:Torts lawyers would greatly benefit (2)

nabsltd (1313397) | about a year ago | (#43771349)

Furniture is even worse. Decent furniture should last a lifetime.

Back in 1987, when I was in college, I bought a fairly cheap couch at JC Penney. Last year, I donated it to charity, as it was a little too worn for me and I didn't have a good spot for it anymore.

Among other things, that couch lived through parties every Saturday night for 4 years, and later had to deal with 70-150 pound dogs using it as a takeoff and landing zone.

Admittedly, all furniture was made better back then, but to get 25 years out of something that cheap says that if anything, your statement about how long furniture lasts can't be emphasized enough.

wired furniture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771101)

Oddly I was just thinking the same thing yesterday. I am surprised somewhere like Ikea which tends to try to be forward looking hasn't come up with some integrated furniture yet with these capabilities. I know they are starting to sell tvs and stuff. Having access to ethernet and power ports in desks at work all day in most offices, its a bit jarring to find our furniture options for the home could mostly pass for stuff sold in the 18th century.

What the point? (2)

slugstone (307678) | about a year ago | (#43771143)

Why? Get off the couch and plug it in. It will be more expensive having the couch wired then buying the extension cords you need. What if there is some new cabling needed? New couch time?

Re:What the point? (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#43771567)

That's why double-gang divided NEMA boxes and conduit exist. Build the plastic box and conduit into the furniture, ship it with both ends covered by screw-on plates, and leave it up to the end users to wire it as they please (a pair of outlets, a single-gang outlet plus a low-voltage keystone, or whatever).

With a divided double-gang box fed by separate 1/2" conduits, you can run just about anything. At the other end of one conduit, they could put a 15A 120v RV-type "inlet", like this one: http://inverterservicecenter.com/Marinco-150BBIW.RV [inverterse...center.com] (if you wanted to wire both gangs for power, instead of using one for ethernet/fiber/whatever, you'd pull out the box divider at the outlet end and feed both from the same conduit). Carlon ENT conduit is perfect for this purpose ( http://www.tnb.com/ps/endeca/index.cgi?a=nav&N=3819+601+3818 [tnb.com] ). Worst-case, they could use Hubbell's funky JLOAD single-gang multimedia outlets, which pair a single 120v power outlet with a pair of low-voltage keystones, designed for use with a special box that shields the high-voltage power away from the low-voltage wiring. ( http://www.cesco.com/b2c/product/447768 [cesco.com] )

Don't (1)

jofas (1081977) | about a year ago | (#43771149)

There is a reason furniture doesn't have power cables running all through it.... FIRE. Just don't, please.

It's not exactly new, you know. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#43771319)

Hotels have offered power outlets, network connections and (sometimes) usb connectors on desks and tables for years, now, both in rooms and in their lobbies. I don't remember seeing any on couches, but they often have easily accessible outlets in the wall, or on the floor. The last time I can remember having to get under a table to get to a socket in a hotel lobby was back in 2010. It's not exactly hard to do, you know, you just have to take the same precautions you'd use if you were putting a new outlet into the wall, and make sure your work is up to code.

Perfectly Safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771159)

Please, carry on; the 2013 Darwin awards are fast upon us.

Hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771171)

A few ideas:
+Spills - definitely use wet location hardware and wire. Also GFCI that shit.
+Tripping - it would be challenging to get power to the furniture if it is not against a wall. If you want a 15 amp outlet, you need a 15 amp cable going out there. And if you want to do it right your sending the ground too.

Specialized hardware:
There is lots of wet location hardware and wire out there. There is also tons of surface mount stuff to run wire. Again - GFCI.

Other idea:
You could potentially supply power to something using a male to male cord and then plugging it into one of the plugs on the piece of furniture. This would give your flexibility on where it can be plugged in (ie a movable power cord - you can switch which side of the couch or which table leg it is on). However you'd need dedicated plugs for this purpose if you want GFCI protection - your dedicated plugs would be on your line side and the protected plugs on the load side. Different outlet colours are available for this purpose.

Re:Hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771187)

And proudly ignore the hubbub from the masses who always say NO.

Re:Hmmmm (1)

yurikhan (1922146) | about a year ago | (#43771455)

A male-to-male cord seems to be a bad idea. Suppose you plug it into a wall socket before plugging into furniture; then you have an electrocuter device.

If you are going to need dedicated plugs/sockets for power source, you might as well switch gender on dedicated connectors.

This is a stupid idea (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771195)

You should feel bad for proffering it. /Moron

5 volts, 1 amp (USB) only (0)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43771207)

Cell phones, tablets, etc. take 5V DC from USB and draw no more than 2.5 watts (500ma).
That's not a lot of power, so it could be safe and convenient to run two devices from a 1 amp supply that's fused at the wall plug.

  120V and 240V AC wall power is dangerous. It can provide 2500 watts - a THOUSAND times as much as a USB charger. You might screw up and it be okay, leading to nothing more than a startling shock, or it might kill you. Don't mess with it.

Re:5 volts, 1 amp (USB) only (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771393)

Most >7" tablets use way more than 2.5W; examples with which I'm personally familiar include:
5V 2A over a USB port, including iPad (with USB-A -> custom cable) & HP Touchpad (with standard USB-A -> USB-microB cable)
15V (!) 1.2A over a USB port, Asus Transformer series including the TF700 I'm typing this on (with USB-A -> custom cable)
12V 1.5A over a barrel-plug charging cable, Motorola Xoom.

Now the iPad, Touchpad, and TF700 will all slow-charge at 5V 0.5A if they don't recognize a USB port as being 2A capable (or in the TF700's case, if it's providing 5V instead of 15V), but with the power consumed by the backlight alone is uses most of it, so it's very easy to end up using more than 2.5W and slowly draining the battery even while it's plugged in if you don't use a compatible high-power charger.

Some furniture is already widely available (4, Funny)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43771219)

They've been making custom powered chairs [wikipedia.org] in the US for a hundred years.

Re:Some furniture is already widely available (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771707)

Edison was way ahead of his time. He was wiring up home furniture before he even had a cellphone to tell his BFF about it, LOL.

wired furniture is dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771235)

Have you not heard what electric chairs are used for?

Already exists in some furniture, but... (4, Informative)

i22yb (1273254) | about a year ago | (#43771249)

I happen to work for a furniture store. This feature already exists in a lot of office furniture and, occasionally, in some living room furniture. You will find it more often in an end table because those are usually placed closer to a wall. You will only find it in sofas and chairs, once in a while, if the piece already contains a motorized reclining mechanism. Otherwise, it's just not a practical application to add to those pieces of furniture. Not many shoppers would pay an extra $100 to have a power outlet pre manufactured into their sofa when they can just plug their device directly into the wall, or get a cheap $6 power strip that will do the job. Also, it would not make sense to put these into a coffee table, because coffee tables are usually placed out in the middle of a room and you would have to run a cord across the floor to power the table. Furniture makers do not want to be sued for tripping hazards.

This needn't be complicated (2)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43771251)

Look at a Plugmold [legrand.us] or similar power strip, mount along the front of the couch. (Underneath, for aesthetic reasons.)

Something like this means you're not doing the wiring (if you were qualified, you'd just do it, rather than ask), all you need to do is the mechanical mounting (a few L brackets should do nicely).

Caveat: If you have small children about, this is putting outlets in their reach.

If you want something like this in a coffee table (or if your couch isn't against a wall), have an electrician install a floor outlet in an appropriate spot.

Take a lesson from science labs (3, Informative)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year ago | (#43771273)

The college where I teach just renovated its science center. I'm very happy with the tabletop power we have in our new physics classroom, and I think the "lessons learned" apply to a kitchen too:

  Don't do low-voltage DC. It'll never be the voltage you want, and plug standardization is a nightmare.
  Don't put outlets on the top of the table. You'll spill, drop crumbs, and ruin the outlets.
  Think about spilled liquids. A lot.
  Make sure you can move the table to the other side of the room without cutting wires.

Our new physics lab classroom has long, heavy wooden "butcher block" tables with a top that overhangs the edge by an inch. The outlets are on the front edge of the table, protected from liquids by the overhang. The outlet boxes run to a heavy-duty cable with a male plug on the end: you plug the tables into a recessed floor box.

Re:Take a lesson from science labs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771383)

in my shop I have 1.5" butcher block surfaces. close to the lip I have metal power strips mounted
underneath, so that the plugs face down. its very easy and i've never had a problem with shorts
even though the air is filled with chips and steel dust. it dont know why you would mount them
on the side

and never ever have a receptacle in the floor, for exactly the reasons you mentioned.

i was at a client the other day and the floor receptacle had a little spring in one of the socket holes,
i can certainly imagine worse...the power strip on our welding table was arcing over the dust and
blowing the internal breaker for a while, but eventually it just stopped resetting

Pointless article. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771291)

Hi, um, I'm a furniture manufacturer. I currently sell kitchen tables ranging in price from about a hundred to several thousand dollars each. My profit margin per unit is already on the order of a few cents to maybe a couple dollars (after all the sizable overhead I already have). Should I assume the millions upon millions of dollars in potential legal liability to give my customers something that NONE of my competitors is giving them (for this very reason,) or just continue making money hand over fist (on the volume) because people don't want to eat sitting on the floor, and periodically replace or update for style reasons, change in family size, or because they destroyed their old furniture during a rage (or rage-er) and have to buy all new dining room furniture?

Same question goes for living room furnishings.

Should I do all that just so you don't have to walk a couple feet to the wall where the outlet already is...?

Tough call. I'll get back to you on that. For now though, just assume until you see EVERYONE selling furniture with this idiotic feature, that no one will, and if you want you can always rig it up yourself, which is really what you should do if you're so very desperate to have your precious outlets.

Re:Pointless article. (3, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#43771341)

For myself, the reason I don't buy furniture with this feature is that nobody offers it. Period. The problem with wall outlets is that they're all too often behind the furniture where people will be needing the power. So I end up with power bars everywhere, often attached permanently to furniture where power's needed.

You'll notice that in office environments all furniture is equipped for power. There's outlets in the floor, and every desk and counter and a lot of fixed tables have power bars along them or underneath them. My office desks at home have cut-outs for power and provision for attaching power bars. And everybody I know asks one question every time they're looking at a house: "Are the circuits 20A?".

Let me ask this: if nobody needs power outlets, why do power strips and boxes sell so well and why do so many homes have so many of them? Answer: because people need outlets that aren't 2-outlet wall boxes, and few people have the skills and the workshop to actually create furniture equipped for what they want so they cobble together what they need from what they can get.

Re:Pointless article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771869)

I'm in the commodity sector of a large industry. Should I invest in a USP for my product? HELL NO - NOBODY ELSE IN THE COMMODITY SECTOR DOES.

Power Bars and USB Hubs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771295)

Most Power Bars and some USB hubs already have notched holes to slide over screw heads. It's not uncommon to put them on the underside of desks in office/school environments, I would do the same for coffee tales and similar furniture. I would suggest having kid-safe versions in case you have a toddler with a fork however as people might not expect there to be overhead receptacles for the little rug-rats in those places.

Mockett (1)

geekboybt (866398) | about a year ago | (#43771329)

At the office, we've retrofitted a few conference tables with simple parts from Mockett . Pretty straightforward stuff - cut the proper holes, drop in the receptacles, and plug them in.

Re:Mockett (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about a year ago | (#43771495)

Mockett is just awesome. They have some of the greatest furniture-tech integration products on the market.

Electric Chairs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771381)

They are nothing new. Build one that actually works and it just might land you in one.

Croudsourcing Slashdot for your new cheesemo enterprise is a good start.

watch out for domestic animals chewing wires (3, Insightful)

ridgecritter (934252) | about a year ago | (#43771463)

I had started to babysit a wonderful dog for a friend. The dog liked to sit under my desk when I was working. One day, my Mini wouldn't boot. Dog toothmarks were evident on the low voltage (thank heavens) side of the power block, making it pretty easy to troubleshoot. As he got used to his new surroundings, no further wire chewing, but it could have been a disaster for all concerned. My animal house friends tell me rabbits are the worst, like frustrated EEs with buck teeth...

Anyway, think about animals, little kids, etc. when you're electrifying your furniture.

Flame Retardants (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771481)

Hey guys - while you are dreaming of making Star Trek bridge settings with your home entertainment furniture, you might turn your attention for a moment to the idea that flame retardants are actually wrecking havoc with our biology, and we don't know it.. its possible but unproven that it has something to do with autism too.. look up "body burden".. I really wish we could make a clean, safe world instead of an increasingly poisonous one, you know?

Will be irrelevant someday (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#43771485)

Some offices don't even bother with Ethernet cabling anymore; they just use WiFi. This was unheard of 15 years ago, when Slashdot users were no doubt grousing about their homebuilder's oversight for not incorporating Ethernet into their homes during construction.

I predict 15 years from now, the constant need to be tethered to A/C will be obviated, either through wireless recharging, through improved device charge capacity, or through increased energy efficiency.

Re:Will be irrelevant someday (1)

blackpaw (240313) | about a year ago | (#43771525)

Some offices don't even bother with Ethernet cabling anymore; they just use WiFi. This was unheard of 15 years ago, when Slashdot users were no doubt grousing about their homebuilder's oversight for not incorporating Ethernet into their homes during construction.

I predict 15 years from now, the constant need to be tethered to A/C will be obviated, either through wireless recharging, through improved device charge capacity, or through increased energy efficiency.

Or the next GFC/Global Warning/Asteroid strike will have reduced us to scrabbling in the ruins for AA batteries to drive our Nintendos

Re:Will be irrelevant someday (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43771733)

Or the next GFC/Global Warning/Asteroid strike will have reduced us to scrabbling in the ruins for AA batteries to drive our Nintendos

Don't lose hope. Just because the population of the earth is reduced to 500 million it doesn't mean the government black ops in their bunkers won't keep the power plants running.

Under the Rug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43771573)

Extension cords that run under a rug really will burn a house down. You also need to pay more for extension cords and stay away from discount stores for such items.

It would require everything be custom (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#43771597)

The thing about furniture is that its generic. Its not for you or your room or your precise purpose but for "someone" with "a room" that might want to do "something" with it.

That lack of specificity requires things be vague. Furthermore, there is an extreme emphasis on lowering initial cost as regards these sorts of things. And due to the way we manufacture things it is understood that after it has left the factor it won't be upgraded or changed or modified.

To get what you're talking about implemented you'd need to change the industrial relationship between the things we own, the people that produce them, and how we use them.

Where am I going with all this? We are entering a phase when the information revolution transforms the industrial revolution. Automation. Micro scale manufacturing. What we get from that is the feasibility of making things for YOU at a price you can afford. What we also get potentially is the ability to modify or alter things over time so that if our needs change we modify the article rather then simply discarding it.

Imagine if you could buy a generic house with generic furniture but over time build into everything you want without going broke. That's getting more and more reasonable.

No standard for anything (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about a year ago | (#43771735)

Seriously, we cannot even decide about what plug to use, let alone where to put that plug. There is literally nothing standard about any of these devices which you could build upon.
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