There’s no covering it up—overturned coffee mugs, mop bucket floods, and other accidental perils face table and floor boxes every day.
Altinex’s preconfigured Pop ‘N’ Plug PNP417 is preconfigured with two DS901-120 sectional plates that have four power receptacles, two VGA connectors, four RJ-45 connectors/cable, two RJ-11 connectors/cable, and two 3.5mm audio connectors/cable. These mainstays of the AV industry provide connections and integrity to all sorts of rooms, but must be built to endure themselves. From following best practices to clever design tricks, we asked manufacturers to spill their secrets for end-user proofing an AV installation. Here’s what they had to say.
What is the best way to end-user-proof an AV installation with table and floor boxes?
The overall goal is to protect signal integrity and cable connections while ensuring reliable power and safety. The process starts with all cable entry points in the application. Use only floor boxes or poke-thrus with scrub water-rated covers (note: rating only applies when connections in the box are not active). Protect the cable pathway from the floor box to the underside of table with a transition tube, or by locating it within the table pedestal. Protect signal/ AC wires by following best practices when organizing the cables underneath the table, i.e. keeping them tight to the surface while still allowing access. Specify tabletop boxes with UL-rated, spill-resistant, gasketed AC receptacles that have been tested for shorts using a saline solution in one-minute dialectric tests. Use boxes with robust and reliable cable retractors capable of ensuring thousands of pulls.
—Mark Tracy, Director of Product Management and Business Development, Middle Atlantic
We know drink spills are inevitable. For that reason, we designed our AMX HydraPort table solutions with specific features, including a lid that can close, channels on the side of the connection ports to catch any liquids, and a modular design for each connection, so any damaged modules can be replaced individually and easily without having to replace the entire enclosure. While we can’t prevent a spill, we have taken steps to minimize damage to the connection port and make it quick and easy to repair.
—Scott Webb, Architectural Connectivity Product Manager, AMX
We’ve seen several customer pitfalls to traditional table and floor boxes. Not every customer wants an open lid or cover sticking up when connected; they also run into issues when recessed because different laptops cannot plug in seamlessly. The best ways to end-user-proof an installation with table and floor boxes are to keep it simple, clean, and highly functional. We introduced a new product at InfoComm that addresses some of the pitfalls outlined above. The new Crestron Connect It presentation interface is a cost-effective, simple-to-use tabletop presentation interface offering connectivity and one-touch control in a compact, stylish device that’s easy to install. Crestron Connect It is not a flip-top device. It sits flat on the table. The plug is flat with the table and can fit any size power adapter.
—Dave Silberstein, Director of Channel Development, Crestron
FSR introduced its new Power Coaster Mini Table Box Series at InfoComm 2013. The table box covers protect and conceal
the connectors below and resemble a high-end coaster when closed. The covers are available with either black or aluminum anodized finishes. By far the best way to ‘user proof ’ an installation is by selecting the right interface to start with! In the almost 15 years since we introduced the world’s first tabletop furniture AV interfaces, we have spent considerable time refining and improving them—and significantly, from a spill perspective. In our Tilt ‘N Plug and Pop ‘N Plug series interconnect boxes, we ‘raise-up’ the interfaces, so they aren’t flush with a table surface. Our Tilt ‘N Plug units are slanted to allow super quick draining and our Pop ‘N Plugs are vertical to protect connectors against accidental spills. You’ll even notice in our recessed Cable Nooks that we elevate the power connectors above the mounting panel to add safety while the overall design allows for rapid draining should an accidental spill occur. Over the past few years, we have further enhanced these interfaces by investing considerable time and expense to add the UL listing for electrical safety to most of our Tilt ‘N Plug and Cable Nook lines.
—Grant Cossey, Vice President of Sales, Altinex
Conference rooms, classrooms, and other meeting facilities are designed to be used; beverage spills have to be anticipated, so it’s important for table enclosures to be UL listed. Extron Cable Cubby and Hideaway Series enclosures mitigate the potential electrical hazard of a spill and are tested to meet or exceed the “spill” criteria established by UL. The other thing we commonly see with end-users is that very few of them carry AV cables now. Extron Retractor cable retraction modules are designed to mount within the Cable Cubby and ensure that the necessary AV cables are immediately available for use.
—Joe da Silva, Director of Product Marketing, Extron
The Wiremold Evolution Floor Box comes with gasketing around the edges to prevent water from entering when there are no cables coming out. Floor boxes, in order to carry a UL Listing, must meet UL’s “scrub water” requirements. This means that when the box is closed and no cables are plugged into the box, it must be able to prevent the entry of any water from carpet scrubbers or wet mops. Boxes typically use gaskets in conjunction with integral slide covers to prevent water from entering. Table boxes are not subject to the scrub water requirements. Pop-ups and boxes with flip lids are subject to damage from other items on the table, such as laptops. Boxes with covers that close around cables and have devices mounted below the table surface protect devices and connections while minimizing obstructions on the table surface.
—Mike O’Brien, Director of Marketing, Wiremold Electrical Wiring Systems, Legrand, North America
Floor boxes allow power, data, and AV connections to be placed anywhere in the floor, providing convenience, as well as safety, by eliminating the trip hazard created when running cords from the floor to wall. A well-designed floor box, such as FSR’s FL series, does this in an elegant and unobtrusive way with rugged all metal construction and water tight doors to protect the internals. The T3 and T6 families of table boxes simply extend the reach of the floor box to the table surface. They provide easy connections in a visually appealing manner without the need to crawl under the table.
—Jan Sandri, FSR President