Friday, October 2, 2020

Wiring Nightmares

Computers and technology create more and more needs to plug in more and more devices into our old electrical outlets.  In the old days we had a few outlets in a room and that was it.

Our apartment is not that old but it still has only one outlet in each wall, usually in the middle.

One of those outlets is switched, which makes it undesirable for many uses.

So a single outlet was needed to service a TV, a cordless phone, a modem, a router, wireless headphones, power for various TV sticks, and a power recliner which has two plugs, not to mention an Amazon Echo.
So nowadays you too may need to power six or more devices from a single outlet.

That can be complicated by an outlet in the middle of a wall where furniture is usually placed in the way.
I prefer outlets in corners at about chair height for easy access.  I required that at work as a management information director.

Having also been director of a company which was accredited as a hospital, I also prefer nothing on the floor, which accreditation mandated. That avoids electrical exposures and also infection control problems.
But the way as technology has developed, over the years there's a tendency in homes to add surge bars and then plug in surge bars to surge bars and create a disaster.  It is a very bad idea.

So, facing a renovation, I needed to figure out a better way.

My first effort was to eliminate plugins wherever possible. That meant doing away with smart home hubs for smart home switches and bulbs.  I switched to smart bulbs and switches.

It was also desirable to plan for plugging Amazon Echo directly into an outlet as opposed to using a cord. The device hangs directly on the plug.

So now I need an outlet adapter which plugged into the hot receptacle to provide six outlets.

I went through several such devices until I found one which could accommodate the sometimes bulky plugs associated with various devices.

The best solution was a Phillips adapter which provides plugins at the side and on the face along with slots for charging a cell phone and tablet or laptop.

Since I would be out of the apartment during a short renovation, I needed to label power plugs for the appropriate device, to avoid getting them confused.

I picked up a Dymo computer labeler which spits out labels quickly.

The end result was that I could accommodate nearly everything off the ground directly from the outlet.
Where I needed to plug more than six items in, I added a surge bar on the shelf or table.

I needed to throw out all the old surge bars which could only accommodate a very narrow plug, and replace them with newer surge bars which offer plenty of space.

One such surge bar is used for my modem, router, and ethernet hub which then plugs into a remote switch which reboots the system remotely.

That makes it easy to restart the system after an electrical outage, which happens often in a storm..
More frequently our cable goes out in a storm, and I need to rely on internet to watch TV.

In doing all this I realized that the future is likely to offer outlets with many widely spaced receptacles and more devices which plug in without an extension cord like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
That will free up shelf and floor space for everybody.

The side effect of getting everything off the floor is that our Robovac does not get snarled up in wires.
I no longer need to place something in the way so that the Robovac does not get into trouble.  That was a nuisance.

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