Article
During a big remodeling project this spring, I became more familiar with the options available for electrical receptacles these days. These include new features, like adding USB charging ports that do away with the need to track down the right adapter for every phone, smart watch and earbud charger. And now there are smart outlets you can control remotely (so, if you’re afraid you left the iron on, you can double check from your phone).

Puzzled by Outlet Placement? Try Getting Floored

Chuck Ross
During a big remodeling project this spring, I became more familiar with the options available for electrical receptacles these days. These include new features, like adding USB charging ports that do away with the need to track down the right adapter for every phone, smart watch and earbud charger. And now there are smart outlets you can control remotely (so, if you’re afraid you left the iron on, you can double check from your phone). Then, there’s just the idea of flexible placement – putting power, neatly, right where it’s needed.

I learned to think outside standard electrical box placement when it came to hanging a small TV in my kitchen. The TV was to go 18 in. or so above an existing junction box that included a couple light switches and an existing outlet. I just assumed we’d use that outlet for the TV, tying up the slack in the cord behind the TV so the cord would run straight down to the outlet. Then my electrician suggested an obviously more attractive solution: bring the power right to the TV so the cord was entirely out of view. Since the wall was going to be opened up anyway to install new insulation, this was a no-brainer of a decision for me.

This got me thinking about other situations where not having power where it’s needed could create both aesthetic and safety concerns. My house totals a modest 1,200 sq. ft. or so, so having regularly spaced wall receptacles in the living room and den works just fine for me. But many of today’s new homes are designed with large and open kitchen/entertaining areas, where homeowners might prefer to place furniture in the middle of the room, away from walls and outlets. Floor boxes can be a great option in these settings, eliminating both the clutter of cords traveling across the floor and the tripping hazard they can create.

Now, you might think of floor boxes as strictly a commercial-building product. They’re a regular feature, for example, in offices and convention center settings. But they can also be a design saver in a customer’s home, as well. Working with homeowners as they’re planning a renovation – and learning how they want to use the space and place their furniture – can help electrical contractors understand where a solution like a floor box might make sense. Plus, these boxes are highly customizable, so they can bring together both standard electrical power with USB charging and, in high-end, structured-wiring applications, networking connections for TVs, speakers and other hardwired, networked devices.
Photo courtesy of Arlington Industries
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