Kind of woodworking, but mostly a question about electricity...


Dolmetscher007
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I built a very Mid-century Modern "Bookcase." And I will be hanging it on my living room wall, using the french-cleat method, directly under my flatscreen television that is mounted on the wall. 

So it will be a bookcase that also houses my cable box, modem, and wifi-router. Yay! :-(   The bottom of the television will literally only be 3/4" off the top of the  bookcase, so I will be drilling a half-circle hole into the back edge of the bookcase, so that I can feed the TV power cable, and the HDMI cord into the bookcase where the boxes will be. I have a really nice 4-outlet extension box that also has two USB sockets. I'd like to mount it to the inside-right side of the bookcase so that everything can plug into it, and I can have a little phone charging station all right there. So... this concludes the woodworking portion of today's post, and segues into the electrical aspects. 

My house was built in 1950, and the electrical has only had minor upgrades over the years. There is only 1 outlet in the whole living room that is a 3-prong outlet. It is about 7 feet away from the television and where the bookcase "outlet" will be. The outlet extension box that I have, has two three-prong-plugs, and a screw, so you are meant to remove the face plate from an outlet, and screw this thing in over and inside of the existing outlet.  

I've attached a Sketchup file that I made to illustrate what I need to know.

  • Image 1. is just to show you how far away the outlet it from the Bookcase. 
  • Image 2. is to show you how I would buy a blue plastic outlet box, and an outlet, and wire it up inside the Bookcase. (the three cords that seem to be cut in mid-air, are the three power cords from the TV, Router, and Cable Box. I just didn't feel like making the look real) 
  • Image 3. The red circle shows where I don't know exactly what I should do. The end of the "Outlet Extension Cable" could just be a male 3-prong-plug. But is there some product out there that would plug into both outlets, screw in, and just have an "extension chord" going over to the bookcase?

BookcaseOutletProject.jpg

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In situations like that, I have taken the baseboard off, run the wires in the wall through the middle of the studs that were behind the baseboard, an re-install the baseboard.  For new outlet boxes in old wall, I like the heavy duty, blue plastic boxes sold in Lowes or Home Depot.   Cut the hole for the box in the wall carefully, using a pattern piece of plywood that the box will barely fit in.  Those HD boxes have an "ear" at each corner.  Lube the little keeper/flapper threads, and don't over torque the screw.  Surface mounting will work, but will you leave it there forever?  

 

What type of wiring is in your walls?  Does it have a metal sheath over the outside?

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5 minutes ago, Tom King said:

In situations like that, I have taken the baseboard off, run the wires in the wall through the middle of the studs that were behind the baseboard, an re-install the baseboard.  For new outlet boxes in old wall, I like the heavy duty, blue plastic boxes sold in Lowes or Home Depot.   Cut the hole for the box in the wall carefully, using a pattern piece of plywood that the box will barely fit in.  Those HD boxes have an "ear" at each corner.  Lube the little keeper/flapper threads, and don't over torque the screw.  Surface mounting will work, but will you leave it there forever?  

 

What type of wiring is in your walls?  Does it have a metal sheath over the outside?

I don't want to get into, "the wiring in the walls." I know absolutely zero about electricity, and I'm fine with that staying that way. I am essentially just talking about finding a surge protector strip, with a long enough cord, plugging it in to the wall, and then screwing it to the inside of the bookcase box. BUT... I would be making the extension strip myself out of an outlet receptacle box that has one of these screwed in as a faceplate...

ge-surge-protectors-33646-64_1000.jpg

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No need to worry about using a surge protector if it's not going to be grounded.   A two slotted outlet does not provide a ground.  If you change it to a three-prong outlet, the ground needs to be connected all the way back to the service.  If the wiring in the wall is shielded with a metal jacket, the metal sheathing should be providing the ground.  There may also be a third wire (ground) connected to the box, but not the outlet.  If that is the case, the wiring in the wall will need to be accessed.  Otherwise, forget about a surge protector providing any major protection.

House wiring is as simple as it gets.

Google "ungrounded surge protector", and you should find plenty of information.  Here is the best conversation I found on the subject with such a search:

https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/surge-protectors-in-older-houses-with-only-2-wires-384087/

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Buy a little 3 prong receptacle  checker. It has 3 lights and will tell you if that outlet is actually grounded. Wise investment of $5

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Southwire-Analog-Voltage-Detector-Meter/50129728

The device Isaac linked to has a 10 ft cord.  Is the 7 ft distance diagonal or wall hugging ?  They sell adhesive mounting squares that would let you zip tie the cord along the baseboard. 

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The tester is a good idea.  I would bet that someone just changed the outlet in the box though, and not run any kind of ground to it, since are the others are two prong.  If you have a multimeter,  testing from the hot slot to the ground will show 120V if the ground is good, just as it would from hot to neutral.

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3 hours ago, Isaac said:

THIS... is 100% exactly what I was looking for!!! Thanks man!

 

Jut as a childish... giggle... did you by any chance see the name of the company that makes that thing?!? Baah ha ha ha!!!

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Haha glad it helps. Another option that actually appears to have a surge protection switch. I'd scan around Amazon a bit, you might find one in a specific shape and color you prefer, there seem to be many options.

https://www.amazon.com/Conference-Recessed-Socket-Outlets-Meters/dp/B072FRLY77/ref=pd_sbs_60_5?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B072FRLY77&pd_rd_r=2KQD5D1WC8Z2X72Y36YM&pd_rd_w=Ox4Zi&pd_rd_wg=v8hj5&psc=1&refRID=2KQD5D1WC8Z2X72Y36YM

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We have one of those battery back up suppressor things for the TV too.   I've been surprised how long it's lasted.   I remember buying it when a lightning strike did us a favor, and blew out the last CRT TV we had.  I don't remember how many years ago that was, but the TV that I replaced the old CRT one with has since given up the ghost, and the one we're using now surprised me the last time our power went out by staying on.  I just looked at it, and the brand is APC.  It must be the longest lasting battery we own.

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Mine are APC as well. My brother bought a pallet load of old ones cheap. Gave me 2 of them. A couple years later this intermittent beep was driving me nuts. Battery was dying. Local commercial battery supplier had new ones for $25 each, gel lead/acid I think. It's about the size of a shoebox. New APC unit is around $85.

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14 hours ago, Tom King said:

The tester is a good idea.  I would bet that someone just changed the outlet in the box though, and not run any kind of ground to it, since are the others are two prong.  If you have a multimeter,  testing from the hot slot to the ground will show 120V if the ground is good, just as it would from hot to neutral.

You don't need a voltage tester or multimeter to check for ground. All you need to do is remove the face plate and count the wires. Three wires it's grounded two wires it's not. Please turn off the power first for safety.

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In some of those old systems, the metal box may be grounded, either by the metal sheathing on the cable, or by a ground wire being attached to the box but not the receptacle itself.  In other words, there may only be two wires to the receptacle, and it stlll be grounded by the screw holding the receptacle to the box.  This may not be the best ground though, since many times the connection is not a really secure (tight) one.  It that case it could test as being grounded, but still it might not be a really good ground for the type of surge protector that dumps excess current to ground.  Any ground is better than none though for most things.

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