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Ask Slashdot: Wiring Home Furniture? 235

Posted by timothy
from the for-a-couch-that-seats-1 dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: Wiring Home Furniture?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 19, 2013 @10:18PM (#43771083)

    Please elaborate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 19, 2013 @10:43PM (#43771195)

    You should feel bad for proffering it. /Moron

  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday May 19, 2013 @11:04PM (#43771263) Homepage Journal
    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?

  • by ridgecritter (934252) on Monday May 20, 2013 @12:02AM (#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.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday May 20, 2013 @12:05AM (#43771467) Journal

    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:Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday May 20, 2013 @12:20AM (#43771509) Homepage Journal

    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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Monday May 20, 2013 @01:24AM (#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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 20, 2013 @03:34AM (#43772007)

    That's what always happens with safety technology: People get reckless. The purpose of a GFCI isn't to allow you to spill water on a power socket. It's to prevent injury and death in case of an accident. It's not an accident when you put in a countertop socket where people will regularly handle liquids.

  • Re:Easy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Monday May 20, 2013 @05:18AM (#43772243)

    There is a reason my most furnature isn't teched up.
    Longevity, most good furnature is meant to last for years and possibly be passed down to generations.
    Technology gets old fast and the latest and greatest, is usually that much better.

    Just think about it this way. If my parents had a digital countertop in the 1980. It would be a vt100 terminal either amber or green screen. And would need 9 or 25 pin serial cable to a PC. And a bulky keyboard.

    Who knows what will be around in 30 years to make our slick multitouch screen seem so out of date.

  • Re:Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlambert (566799) on Monday May 20, 2013 @06:29AM (#43772337)

    Running a conduit horizontally in a wall decreases the stability of the wall. Electricians are very wary of doing that.

    Whereas drilling a hole and just running a 12 gauge Romex through it horizontally makes the wall more stable?

    The ability to do horizontal runs is why there exist "wire protection plates" / "conduit protection plates. Obviously, you do not want a large number of horizontal holes in load bearing 2x4 walls, but then that is why you use 2x6 for them instead of 2x4, at least for stick-built houses. If you use metal studs, they typically have either punch-outs, or just have pre-punched holes (depending on brand) that line up horizontally.

    Almost all plumbing off a vertical stand-pipe requires horizontal holes through the studs, particularly if you are going to a "free standing" or "pedestal" vanity, so that they water cut-offs and hookup pipes are not in the open, and they don't end up looking like hell. Anyone who doesn't hide this stuff in the wall is someone who is either flipping the property, or really doesn't give a damn because they plan on renting the property.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Monday May 20, 2013 @08:06AM (#43772715)
    As I recall, in the Mythbusters experiment, the stream broke up after 12-24 inches or so. The "dog on couch" scenario, or "passed out drunk guy" might be within that distance.

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