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Old Mar 2nd, 06, 4:48 pm   #1
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Plugmold







What a PITA.



I wimped out on the install and didn't use any of the conduit pieces as I could SEE what a pain they would be to use, and honestly, we didn't need them. Having installed one now I definitely understand some of the problems folks have reported in wiring it up. It's not TOOO hard, if you get it right the first time. If you screw up, I can see it getting harder and harder to do as the metal bends a bit. Susan asked me to take pictures as I went (I've got lots more, but this one shows most of the wiring bits)and write up some lessons learned, so here's what I found out.

  1. The directions, while not totally useless, are among a handful of the most dangerous (as in likely to get you into trouble)for the uninitiated I've seen, mostly because they do NOT explain several key points and only with substantial effort can you infer what is left out. Basically they're pretty good once you know what you're doing.
  2. The illustrations are REALLY irritatingly incomplete. ONE good picture would have answered almost all my questions.
  3. Do it right the first time, or you'll regret it.
  4. If you're not sure how a particular part will work, do NOT start until you are.
  5. Wiremold, the company that makes the Plugmold system, has in my limited experience, the WORST knockout cutting equipment in the industry.
  6. Umm... Did I mention that the instructions suck? They actually refer you to page three for important information prior to cutting and stripping Hot and Neutral wires for the W30 connectors. Umm... My instructions were a single sheet, front and back. I count reel goot up to 2, don need ta take off muh socks or nuthin!

Ok. Onto the meat of the explanation:



I only wired the plugmold strip to an electrical line coming in the back of the strip, so those of you using it in a different configuration will need to do things differently, but hopefully this will help provide enough insight to make it a bit easier to understand the supplied directions.



Step by Step:



Take everything apart. The chained together outlets should be completely removed from the metal casing before you start.

  1. Depending on where your electrical line is coming in, you may well need to splice in wires to the runs connecting the outlets.
  2. The white plastic boxes on the back of each outlet have little channels to allow a wire to pass over them and still allow enough clearance for the back to snap onto the front cover. Note that there are only TWO channels provided in each, and you have three wires. So the ground wire has to come through from one side, and the Hot and Neutral wires from the other. I suppose you could switch them around and it wouldn't make any difference, but that seemed to be a logical grouping to me.
  3. When splicing the wires, you simply cut the wire, strip ½ inch of insulation off of each cut end (the W30 connectors can be used as a gage for length of insulation to strip) and insert the two newly stripped wires into a W30¯ connector, 2 of which should be provided with your plugmold. You *MAY* be able to handle the splicing another way, but the clearances are REALLY tight, I strongly advise keeping track of the W30 connectors and using them. When you have the plugmold lying flat so that the outlets are facing down and the white boxes are on top you should be able to insert both ends of the wire into the holes in the W30 closest to the tabletop. The wire that you are adding (12 AWG ONLY) needs to go into the top hole so that the wire is mostly lined up with the channel that it will be going through to get past the outlet fixture.
  4. Use pliers to bend the wires into position so that they are moving parallel to and lined up with the channel that they need to go through. It's important that there be little to no tendancy to spring¯ out of the channel as it's a pain to get the outlets and all the wires BACK into the front cover, and if you're fighting wires that want to pull out of place it will, very likely, drive you mad. You might try using blue painters tape to tape the wires in place, I didn't think of it in time, but I think it would make it a LOT easier when it comes time to put the plugmold back together.
  5. The ground wire ( I used bare wire as that was what I had, but if you have green 12 AWG wire I'd use that) needs a bit more extreme bending, but the same rules apply.
  6. You can use wire nuts on the end of the wire runs to cap off the bare wires after cutting off the excess, and to splice in the piece you need for (or make the connection for) the ground wire, just be careful to stagger the lengths of the wires so that the wirenuts will fit tightly together.
  7. SLOWLY and CAREFULLY put the wire runs/outlets back into the front of the plugmold. Take your time with this step, and make sure the wires remain in their channels throughout, again painters tape may help here.
  8. At this point I already had the back of the plugmold attached to the side of the island we were mounting it to, and a hole drilled where the wires would be coming in though the back of the plugmold. The back CAN be mounted right up against a horizontal surface by the way, you will still have enough room to attach the front/outlets and wires.
  9. Attach the end fittings to the back of the plugmold, hooking the bottom of the end fitting over the bottom lip of the plugmold back and then pushing the top in, this may require some force.
  10. Carefully insert the wires through the hole/wire them to the supply wires coming out of your wall box, getting all the slack out that you can. Then rest the bottom lip of the plugmold front in the back cover and rotate the front cover/outlet assembly up to snap it into place. You will probably need a deadblow hammer or similar non-metallic whacking instrument to get it attached. Be careful and make sure it's all lined up right first.

One final note:



I'm NOT a professional electrician by any means, but I've installed a few outlet boxes and added a few breakers to a distribution panel. I know how the little metal disks (knockouts) are supposed to come out. And I have NEVER had to use a hammer, drift punch, screwdriver and a LOT of work with pliers just to get one of those suckers to come out. Normally you bang it once or twice with a punch, pry it up and then twist it off, no problem. Not so with these, the one I tried to get out was attached by thick sections of metal 180 degrees apart and getting it out chewed up/bent the surrounding metal badly enough that I took it out to the shop to flatten it back out before proceeding with the install.

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Last edited by Tigratrus; Oct 22nd, 07 at 7:52 pm..
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Old Mar 2nd, 06, 5:00 pm  
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Wow...I got frustrated just reading the tutorial, I can't imagine how frustrating it was to actually do all of that!

I was a little bummed thinking that I should have put plugmold somewhere in my kitchen...but now I am glad I didn't. My electrician drove my DH crazy enough (since DH seemed to know as much, if not more, than ol Sparky) without throwing something like this into the mix.

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Old Mar 2nd, 06, 6:39 pm  
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James,

Reading that taught me 2 things...1. they're really cool and useful and 2. DeDe's too dumb to do it! Tee hee!

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Old Mar 2nd, 06, 9:10 pm  
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I have to confess that the word "plugmold" sends shivers of inadequacy through me! Some of you know I took a fairly casual approach to the kitchen remodel, and plugmold was one of those things that kind of freaked me out over on the gardenweb forum. I'd see people waxing eloquent about it, and I would think "Why didn't I know about this? I've never even heard the word. What else don't I know about? Why didn't I know that it is cool to make your island a different color from your regular cabinets? etc., etc. Am I going about this all wrong???" Just another form of paranoia, I guess, eh Dede?

At the end of the day, though, I figured out that I only needed a couple ofoutlet locations in my kitchen, and if I had that many places to plug things in, my circuit breakers would be breakin' all day. Guess I didn't need what I didn't know I needed after all.

Kathy

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Old Mar 2nd, 06, 9:15 pm  
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Kathy, I'm not paranoid...just have a healthy fear of electricity. I mean I already have curly hair!

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Old Mar 7th, 06, 7:55 pm  
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Thanks Tiggr - About the time I brought up plugmold my DH mentioned calling an electrician... I have a feeling he's going to earn his money with our house, especially after reading your directions

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Old Oct 22nd, 07, 7:36 pm  
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Re: Plugmold install tutorial draft

That was a scary description. I just went to Fry's and got a 31 inch not-surge-protected strip. We had the cord go up between the cabinet and the high cabinet. We drilled a big hole in the high cabinet and a shelf to plug it in inside the cabinet. Had to drill a bigger hole to expose the plug that the high cabinet covered. Also had to get a ONE FOOT extension cord since the 3 foot cord that came with it didn't quite reach. The strip came with brackets that we screwed to the studs so I can unplug easily.

Oh and I spray painted the strip white to match the cabinets.
Joyce in Oregon

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Old Oct 22nd, 07, 7:58 pm  
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Re: Plugmold install tutorial draft

Heh. Probably a good call!

I just wanted to clarify that it's really NOT an impossible project (and hey, *maybe* the instructions have gotten better and they do a better job cutting the knockouts now! But then again, maybe it's still the same PITA ), it's just the type of project that you really have to sit down and spend some time looking over all the steps and making sure you understand what happens when and why *first*.

I imagine that an electrician that's used to working with it can probably do it quickly, and relatively painlessly... But from what I saw it's *NOT* the type of project you want to just jump into with both feet and try to figure out as you go... which I'm not ashamed to say is my preferred method .

James

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Old Jun 20th, 08, 12:13 am  
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What is plugmold?

Looks like a surge protector strip, (installable in the wall flush?) but I assume more complex than this?

Advantages? Disadvantages?

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