Article
Yes, you guessed. Once again, we're talking about … poke-through devices. In boardrooms, auditoriums, and other meeting locations, they're vital to ensure power and connectivity are available when needed. What you use will depend on the flooring materials, whether the installation is old work or new construction, and the type of cabling necessary for the location.

Of Mop Buckets, Shampooers, and Technical Furniture

Steve Maurer, IME
Yes, you guessed. Once again, we're talking about … poke-through devices. In boardrooms, auditoriums, and other meeting locations, they're vital to ensure power and connectivity are available when needed.

What you use will depend on the flooring materials, whether the installation is old work or new construction, and the type of cabling necessary for the location.

Way back in my school days, extension cords ruled the floor, causing trip hazards and limited power options. The only thing we had to power up were film projectors and overhead projectors for transparencies. Do they even use those anymore?

These days, the necessary connections continue to grow in number and in type. Floor boxes supply more than just 120 VAC … there is a growing list of cabling requirements.

Boxes can be installed with audio-visual connections, network connections, AC power, telephony, and more. Many are configurable, allowing for multiple types of connections to be installed in one box.

Depending on the requirements for service, they are available in prewired and unwired options. When using for power supply, they can be preordered with standard duplex receptacles or with an isolated ground, important for many of today's specialized electronics.

As many tables and desks are preconfigured themselves for computers and other electronics, the layout and type of poke thru devices must take this into account when designing the area. Technical furniture, as these tables, chairs, and desks are called, may necessitate a rework of existing floor boxes.

Poke thrus can also be configured with conduit elbows to allow cables to be run to permanent technical furniture, and termination or connections made within the furniture itself.

Sometimes, retrofits or upgrades are necessary. If the area beneath the floor is accessible, this shouldn't be too much of an operation. Demolition of old cabling and installing upgraded systems is fairly straightforward. Many times, a new floor box plate can be retrofitted with the appropriate connections, even for older boxes, instead of removing the old box completely.

The covers on these boxes have also evolved. I can remember metal covers that required a screwdriver (or in some instances a coin, like a quarter) to unscrew the cover to expose the outlet. Most covers now are simply slid or flipped out of the way, and pushed back when the connectors are no longer needed.

New UL standards now require that devices be protected against moisture, debris, and other contaminants. Gasketing materials, called scrub water gaskets, seal out spills from scrubbers, mops, and carpet cleaners. Be sure to check local codes to ensure installation of the proper seals and covers, of course.

New installs on existing wood flooring is fairly simple. The proper hole sized is drilled, the poke thru box inserted, and the appropriate fasteners are used to restrain the box. Conduit fittings allow piping to be installed to route the cabling.

However, existing concrete floors are more labor intensive. Core drilling is required, and depending on the depth, securing the box will require the correct fasteners. However, some poke thru devices are designed to wedge into the concrete, using pressure and friction to secure the box.

When pouring new concrete flooring, an appropriately sized sleeve is used to ensure the correct hole size is maintained until the mixture sets and dries.

Sometimes area configurations change and a poke thru device is no longer needed or will become inaccessible. While it can be left in place, the cabling to it may be needed at a new location. In that scenario, an abandonment cover and/or device can be installed. One benefit is that it leaves the spot available should the cabling and power requirements change again in the future.
Photo courtesy of Middle Atlantic Products
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