Sunday, July 22, 2012

Twelve Feet of Power!

 Power strips normally woudn't be worth a blog post, but these are some serious power strips!  Our IDFs at work are getting an upgrade, and these were going to recycling.  My friend Zoe gave the the heads-up, and our IDF people very kindly let me take them.  They're 6 feet long and have 12 outlets each.
 Oops, they're wired for a 20 amp feed... will that be hard to change? I hope not... I've got the problem of having lots of little wall wart transformers to plug in.  None of them draw much current, but not too many can fit into a typical power strip.
 No problem, the external wiring is connected in this V-shaped part, which simply snaps off.  There's simple wire nuts attaching the power line in place.  This is going to be easier than I thought!
I clipped the end off of two heavy-duty extension cords for the power.  They fit right in with no problem. Be sure to check and double-check the polarity.  This is not something you want to get wrong!  Neutral goes on the large blade.  There should be approximately 120 volts between hot and ground, and approximately 0 volts between neutral and ground.
Here's the cover snapped back on and the power wire secured tidily.
 Here's the power strip being replaced.  It couldn't fit enough of the wall warts, so I had to put another power strip near the table for wall wart use.  I measured the current with everything plugged in, and it was quite low.  All the high-amp stuff is in the garage workshop.
Another extension cord up high for the flourescent lamps.  I took advantage of the space there for the laptop power supply as well.  All that will be gone!
The first power strip plugs into the wall outlet; there's nothing hard-wired.  The second power strip plugs into the first power strip.  I thought about making a Y-harness for providing power to the two strips, but that seemed pretty pointless compared to this solution.  The outlets on the power strip are 20A, but of course I know they're plugged into a 15A circuit.  They're the ideal height for attaching to the pier next to my table.
 And here's what it looks like.  I'm so pleased with it!  Everything is easy to plug in, and you don't have to crawl under the table to reach anything.  I can move the units around in future if necessary.
Here's the view from the workbench.

 Update: here's what the inside looks like.  I opened it up to take out a loose bolt from removing the mounting bracket.  It's well insulated inside as you can see.

Pry the cover off at the end; keep prying, moving 6 inches or so at a time and alternating sides.  The cover will curl a bit, but that didn't seem to hurt it.  Be careful not to bend it too much at the cutouts.
The end opposite the power can be tapped if you want to make a super-long strip, or go around a corner or somesuch.

Putting the cover on was easy; lay the cover in place, and use some vice grips to squeeze the cover back onto the tracks.  Be careful not to scratch things up if that's important to you.  It might pay to put a cloth in the jaws where it contacts the power strip.

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